On the road reading: Trainspotting

What’s your most memorable reading moment while travelling? That’s the question being asked by The Works in their travel blogger competition. There’s no doubt about mine – “The best book ever written by man or woman”, while on the train to the city where it is set…

On a sub-zero but sunny January morning in 1995, I left my student digs in Hull and caught the train to meet friends in Edinburgh, armed with a bag of Opal Fruits and a copy of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting.

The journey took four hours, with a change in York. While waiting for my connection, I dug out my book and realised it was quite an appropriate read – York station is home to the National Railway Museum, and the platforms were crawling with notebook-wielding trainspotters.

It took me a while to get into the book as it’s written in the colloquial vernacular of an Edinburgh “schemie” with its “jaykits” and “boatils”. But by the time we’d passed Newcastle and its majestic Tyne Bridge, I was almost fluent in Scottish slang.

I became so engrossed in the misadventures of Sick Boy, Spud and Renton that I barely noticed the track was inches from the North Sea at times.

I passed Lindisfarne and Holy Island, chuckling as Spud and Renton try their best to fail their job interviews.

Berwick-upon-Tweed was somewhere I’d heard lots about, and I was keen to see the town from the window. But on the approach I was more interested in the pub brawl Begbie had started.

As I crossed the border into Scotland, I was feeling a little apprehensive and was wondering what I’d let myself in for. Could this city, which everyone had told me was gorgeous, really be so rough? Would I be looking over my shoulder in fear of Begbie and co?

Irvine Welsh had certainly painted a pretty grim picture of the city of his birth, one full of junkies and lowlifes. Edinburgh’s tourist board wouldn’t have been happy.

I remember thinking “there’s no way Trainspotting will ever be made into a film”. As well as being extremely rude and littered with drug references, it is made of many short, seemingly unconnected scenes – perfect train reading, but not ideal as a movie.

One year later, not only had Danny Boyle succeeded in translating from book to cinema, he’d made my favourite film of all time and one that will always remind me of that sunny trip up the east coast.

The competition rules

“We’d like to hear about the book you read and how it made you feel and exactly where you were when you read it. Please describe your surroundings and situation and explain why the moment had such an impact. Within your post be sure to mention the competition page http://www.theworks.co.uk/travelbloggercomp so that your readers know what it’s all about.

When you’ve finished writing your post, nominate at least three other bloggers to share their ‘on the road reading moments’ by listing their blog sites.

The winner will receive a £250 book voucher so that they can stock up on more travel reads. You do not have to be nominated to enter.”

I’d now like to pass the baton on to the following three bloggers:

Andrew from Have Bag Will Travel

Jo from Restless Jo

Suzanne from The Travelbunny

Categories: UK and IrelandTags: , , , ,


  1. AaaH! Loud scream, Richard. I haven’t got a clue, so will have to think (always painful). There I was enjoying the read …

  2. Great entry to the competition Richard. A nicely written article. And it is about my home city! Best of luck. Have you been to Corrour Station in Scotland- this is where they film the scene in the countryside when they get off a train in the middle of nowhere?

    • A cool place to live – very jealous! No, I’ve not been to that station but remember the scene well. I love Edinburgh and went to Leith to look for some of the pubs in the film, not as scary as Welsh made out.

  3. Haven’t read Trainspotting yet, most of my reading around Edinburgh involves Inspector Rebus and as yet I haven’t ran into any Murrrrders

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