Dead Men’s WORDs

WORD Christchurch is back for 2018 and once again we have a programme chock full of amazing opportunities to revel in the goodness of the creative use of words.

There’s such a wide array of interesting stuff to highlight too…

Perhaps the biggest for me is the conversation with Irvine Welsh on Friday 31 August at the Isaac Theatre Royal (6pm-7pm). Welsh debuted in 1993 with the now-modern-classic Trainspotting, the story of a group of heroin users negotiating life in Leith, Scotland in the early 1990s.

He’s revisited these characters often with his 2016 book The Blade Artist focusing on Francis Begbie and his new life as a contemporary artist in California – a great read! And his new book, Dead Men’s Trousers, brings the whole crew back together in a more substantial way. There’s betrayal and payback, drug use and abuse, and of course a high level of coarse language and violence.

And with mixed feelings I realise that there’s some events in Dead Men’s Trousers too that, without giving any spoilers, makes me think that this might be the last we’ll see of these characters. There’s some loose ends tied off and some revelations about the future for some of them, and if it is to be the last then it’s a great way to send them off – here’s hoping that they will come back as ageing and maladjusted senior citizens at some point though, that’d be a hoot!

Scottish author Irvine Welsh (image supplied).

It will be great to hear Irvine Welsh’s take on the happenings of Britain recently; he has strong opinions and regularly shares them through his twitter account @IrvineWelsh

His 2018 WORD Christchurch talk does have a cost of $34/32 and it is only for an hour but I’m dead keen!


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Deep fried book supper

Being Emily by Anne Donovan
Being Emily by Anne Donovan

Both at home and abroad, the Scots use Robert Burn’s birthday as an excuse to get quite extraordinarily drunk and mind bogglingly maudlin; I like to think we do it very well.

This year it was even better as Rabbie aka the Bard turned 250 on January 25th and gave the Scottish Government and tourist industry a chance to roll out Scots culture big time, celebrating whisky, golf, ancestry, Scottish inventors and innovation, as well as another opportunity for Scots everywhere to get pissed of course.

As a little side project “Reading Roots” has been developed to showcase Scottish literary diversity. Tartan-clad Scottish librarians have been playing hunt the haggis not with “puddins” but with books deposited in public places à la Bookcrossing. Hopefully copies of the Oor Wullie annual, Trainspotting and the Bard’s finest poems will find grateful homes.

The Reading Roots website also has a taster of titles celebrating Scots writers both old and new. The lists include:

  • Glaswegian writer Laura Marney, her latest title My best friend has issues is apparently “a romp through the fleshpots Barcelona”. I also suspect Nobody loves a ginger baby by her may too be worth a scan based, if for no other reason, on the sheer outrageousness of the title. How very un-pc.
  • Jackie Kay is a well-known poet, short-story writer and novelist, Wish I was here is her haunting collection of short stories on the eternal theme of love. She also wrote The trumpet a fantastic and surprising novel from 1998.
  • Christopher Rush’s Hellfire and herring: A childhood remembered records the authors 1950’s childhood in the small Fife fishing village of St Monans and sounds suitably “Wee Free Church” with a salty tinge.
  • To further reinforce that no one does dark as well as the Scots Lin Anderson’s Rhonda MacLeod detective series is described as “a heart-stopping sprint through Glasgow’s dark underbelly”, a welcome distraction now that John Rebus is no longing scooping pints at the Oxford Bar.
  • Finally Anne Donovan gets a mention; she is the author of Buddha-Da, strong in Scots dialect and strong in story, a tale of worlds colliding. Her latest title is Being Emily and follows the family life of Fiona O’Connell, a young girl whose mother has recently died.

Over thirty million people globally claim Scottish ancestry; prove your Scots credentials, grab a whisky, snack on a haggis and read a great Scottish novel.