'That's the way Irvine wrote it'
The author of 'Trainspotting' is under fire again. Has Irvine Welsh gone too far in his depiction of God as a foul-mouthed Edinburgh drunk?
Sunday 03 August 1997
The Granton Star Cause is based on a short story of the same name, originally published in Welsh's second book, The Acid House (1994). It's about the worst day in the life of Boab (Stephen McCole), a young Edinburgh ne'er- do-well, who is summarily dropped from his local football team, kicked out of the parental home, dumped by his girlfriend - and meets a contemptuous God. The language is faithful to that of the original story, and to real- life Edinburgh street speech. God appears to Boab as an unkempt, drunken old "mannie" in a rough north Edinburgh pub.
Already, complaints have been heard from a Church of England spokesperson, and from Mary Whitehouse, who has said that the film "will be a blasphemy and a gross offence". But Robin Gutch, renegade.tv's commissioning editor at C4, is confident that the film does not contravene Independent Television Commission guidelines. "We feel that with a warning about content and language, and in a late-night slot, this is a perfectly defensible piece of broadcasting," he said.
The Granton Star Cause has long been a favourite item on the bill in Irvine Welsh's live performances of his writing. It is an extremely well- constructed story, lewdly hilarious, but with a serious twist. "For me," says Robin Gutch, "it's a sad story, about unfulfilled expectations and waste." "The Church people are shocked to see God coming back as one of their own," says the film's Scottish director, Paul McGuigan. "But if Jesus had been from Edinburgh, he'd have been talking the way God talks in our film."
Mr Usborne bought the rights to Welsh's stories in 1994. The Granton Star Cause will be one part of a feature-length Acid House film trilogy. The other parts are currently being edited, and will star Ewen Bremner (Spud in Trainspotting), Jemma Redgrave and Martin Clunes.
"Right at the beginning, we decided not to compromise," says Paul McGuigan. "Our film has that language in it because that's the way Irvine wrote it. We see it as Irvine's signature piece," Mr Usborne adds. "It's Irvine's passion, Irvine's vision, Irvine's language. It's coming from the horse's mouth."
WARNING: the following script contains strong language words in here
Irvine Welsh's The Granton Star Cause, to be shown on Channel 4 tomorrow at 11pm, follows a bad day in the life of Boab. These two extracts cover his return to his parents' home and his subsequent meeting with "God".
Boab Sr and Doreen are in the front room of their home watching television. The house is a shrine to the Seventies, with an abundance of teak and a sunhouse gas fire. The television and video equipment is state-of-the- art though, the monitor has a large, flat screen. A new video camera is connected up to it on a tripod.
DOREEN: That'll be him now Boab.
BOAB SNR: Aye, Doe, ah'll tell um [as Boab enters, his father casts his newspaper on the table and gives his mother a brief conspiratorial nod] Awright son? Ah want a wee word wi ye.
BOAB: Aw aye?
DOREEN: S'no likesay we're tryin tae git rid ay ye son, s'no likesay that at aw.
BOAB SNR: [to Doreen] That's enough Doreen. Lit me speak tae the laddie.
BOAB: What's aw this about?
BOAB SNR: The thing son, it's time you were oot ay this hoose. Yir twinty- three years auld now, which is far too auld fir a laddie tae be steyin wi his Ma n faither. Ah mean, ah wis away tae sea wi the Merchant Navy at seventeen... it's jist no natural son, d'ye understand?
Ah mean, ye dinnae want yir mates tae think thit yir some kind ay queer felly, now dae ye? Anywey, me n yir Ma's no gittin any younger. Wir enterin a funny phase in oor lives son, some might say... a dangerous phase. Yir Ma n me son, we need time tae sort oot our lives. Tae git it the gither, if ye ken what ah mean. You've goat a lassie, wee Evelyn. You ken the score! Yir problem is son...
BOAB: Naw bit...
BOAB SNR: Hear ays oot son.
DOREEN: [to Boab Snr] It wisnae meant tae like this Boab.
BOAB SNR: It's no like anything though Doreen. Thir's nae hassle: jist a faither-tae-son talk. Aw ah'm sayin tae the laddie, aw ah'm saying tae ye Boab, is thit yir huvin yir cake n eatin it. N whae suffers? Ah'll tell ye whae: muggins here. Yir Ma n me. Now ah ken that it's no that easy tae find somewhair tae stey these days, especially when yuv hud somebody else, like muggins here, runnin aroond eftir ye. Bit we'll no say nowt aboot that the now. Thing is, me n yir Ma, wir prepared tae gie ye two weeks grace. Jist as long as yir oot ay here within a fortnight.
BOAB: Aye... right...
DOREEN: Dinnae think thit wir tryin tae get rid ay ye son, it's jist thit yir faither n me think thit it wid be mutually advantageous tae both parties, likesay, if ye found yir ain place.
BOAB SNR: That's it Doe! Mutually advantageous tae baith parties. Ah like that! Any brains you n oor Cathy've goat son, they came fae yir Ma thair, nivir mind muggins here.
Boab is dejected and turns to leave.
DOREEN: Dinnae jist rush oot again though son. Sit doon n watch bit ay the telly.
BOAB SNR: Doe! Lit the laddie go oot! He'll want tae be oot wi his mates or wee Evelyn. He'll no want tae sit here watchin the telly wi us! We're... jist, eh... huvin a play wi the new toy son.
Boab Senior gestures at the video camera. A lecherous glance flits between him and his wife which Boab does not quite understand but which still makes him uneasy.
BOAB: Aye... see yis.
Boab leaves the flat.
Boab phones his girlfriend - who ditches him - and heads for a pub where he meets a man with white hair and beard.
MAN: Yuv fucked this one up, ya daft cunt.
BOAB: Eh? What?
MAN: You. Boad Coyle. Nae hoose, nae joab, nae burd, nae mates, polis record, sair face, aw in the space ay a few ooirs. Nice one!
BOAB: How the fuck dae you ken ma business! What's it goat tae wi you!
MAN: It's ma fuckin business tae ken! Ah'm God!
BOAB: Way tae fuck ya auld radge!
GOD: Fuckin hell; another wise cunt. Robert Anthony Coyle, born on Friday the 23rd of July to Robert McNamara Coyle and Doreen Sharp [...]You have a sickle-shaped birthmark on your inner thigh. You attended Granton primary school and Ainslie Park secondary, where you obtained two SCE O'Grades, in Woodwork and Technical Drawing. Until recently, you worked in furniture removals, lived at hame, hus a bird called Evelyn, whom you couldn't sexually satisfy, and played football for Granton Star, like you made love, employing little effort and even less skill.
BOAB: If you're God, whut ur ye daein wastin time oan the likes ay me?
GOD: Good question Boab, good question.
BOAB: Ah mean, thirs bairns starvin likesay, oan the telly n that. If ye wir that good, ye could sort aw that oot instead ay sitting here bevvyin wi the likes ay me.
GOD: Hud oan a minute pal. Lit's git one thing straight. Every fuckin time ah come doonn here, some wideo pills ays up aboot what ah should n shouldnae be fuckin daein. Either that or ah huv tae enter intae some philosophical discourse wi some wee undergraduate twat about the nature ay masel, the extent ay ma omnipotence n aw that shite. Ah'm gittin a wee bit fed up wi aw this elf-justification; it's no for youse cunts tae criticise me. Ah made youse cunts in ma ain image. Youse git oan wi it. Youse fuckin well sort it oot. That cunt Nietzsche wis wide ay the mark when eh saus thit ah wis deid. Ah'm no deid; ah jist dinnae gie a fuck. Nae other cunt gies a fuck, so how should ah? It's no fir me tae sort every cunt's problems oot.
BOAB: How's it no! You're a fuckin toss! Se if ah hud your fuckin powers...
GOD: If you hud ma powers ye'd dae what ye dae right now: sweet fuck all. You've goat the power tae cut doon oan the pints ay lager, aye?
BOAB: Aye, bit...
GOD: Nae buts aboot it. You've goat the power tae git fit n make a mair positive contribution tae the Granton Star cause. Ye hud the power tae pey mair attention tae that wee burd ay yours. She wis tidy. Ye could've done a loat better there Boab.
BOAB: Mibbe a could, mibbe ah couldnae. Whit's it tae you?
GOD: Ye hud the power tae git oot fae under yir Ma n Dad's feet soas they could huv a decent cowp in peace. Bit naw. No selfish cunt Coyle. Jist sits thair watchin Coronation Street n Brookside while they perr cunts ur gaun up the waws wi frustration.
BOAB: S'nae ay your business!
GOD: Everything's ma business. Ye hud the power tae fight back against that fat cunt fae the cafe. Ye jist lit the cunt panel ye, fir a few fuckin pence. That wis oot ay order, bit ye lit the cunt git away wi it.
BOAB: Ah wis in a state ay shock...
GOD: And that cunt Rafferty. Ye didnae even tell the cunt tae stick his fucking joab up his erse.
BOAB: So what! So fuckin what!
GOD: So ye hud they powers, ye jist couldnae be bothered usin thum. That's why ah'm interested in ye Boab. You're jist like me: a lazy apathetic, slovenly cunt. Now ah hate bein like this, and bein immortal, ah cannae punish masel. Ah kin punish you though, mate. That's jist whit ah intend tae dae.
BOAB: But ah could...
GOD: Shut it cunt! Ah've fuckin hud it up tae ma eyebaws wi aw this repentance shite. Vengeance is mine, n ah intend tae take it, oan ma ain lazy n selfish nature, through the species ah created, through thir representative. That's you. (God stands up. Boab is scared and is trying to buy time.)
BOAB: Ye look jist like ah always imagined...
GOD: That's cause you've nae imagination, ya daft cunt. Ye see ays n hear ays as ye imagine ays. Now you're fucking claimed radge.
BOAB: Ba ah'm no the worst ... whit aboot the murderers, the serial killers, dictators, torturers, politicians... the cunt's thit shut doon factories tae preserve thir profit levels... aw they greedy rich bastards... what aboot thaim? Eh?
GOD: Might git roon tae they cunts, might no. That's ma fuckin business. You've hud it cunt! Yir a piece ay slime Coyle. An insect. That's it. An insect! Ah'm gaunny make ye look like the dirty, lazy pest thit ye are!
(God looks Boab in the eye, and projects a force of energy out at him which pins him in his chair. It's over in seconds, and Boab is shaken but unharmed. The whole thing seems to have taken more out of God who staggers away from the table.) Ah'm away hame tae ma kip...
God departs wheezing. He is hitting the side of his head as he exits from the pub.
Some fuckin day this...
The Acid House Trilogy screenplays will be published by Methuen next year to coincide with the release of the feature film of the same name.
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