Trainspotting, despite the fact that it has been hyped as a walk on the wild side of Edinburgh’s drug scene is, in fact, a fairy tale, at the end of which the good guys live happily ever after. Mark Renton, the central figure, scarpers with the proceeds of a big drug deal (leaving a whack of the loot for Spud, his mate). The others involved in the deal are, ‘Sick Boy’ (played by Jonny Lee Millar – my current lust object – who manages to look rather porky, despite being a smack-addict) and the drunken hard-chaw, Begbie (Robert Carlysle). One of the remarkable things about this picture is the complete absence of Gay people.
Some years ago, I was listening to a programme on R TE (Radio I) about the AIDS/HIV problem in Edinburgh. A stream of “well-kent” people came on and claimed that the Health authorities had done all the work which I knew quite well had been done by SAM (Scottish AIDS Monitor, a Gay community body) long before any money was forthcoming from the state. This included the discovery of the “needle-man”, who took a needle for mainlining (inject ing into the vein) heroin. Sometimes upward of a hundred people used the one needle – is it any wonder the town was’ an AIDS disaster area? Our community took the sometimes heavily-macho, straight, PWAs under its wing, at a time when Thatcher’s government could only exhort such people to pull themselves together. Trainspotting has the same eerie effect, one character, played by Kevin McKidd (seen gratuitously naked at one point, and very nice it is too) dies of full-blown AIDS. He is found in his picturesquely squalid flat, some time after his death. His kitten is still very well-fed looking, but we are spared the consequences of the sight of all of this.
The film has been accused of romanticising drug-taking, the shots of people mainlining are surreal, sixties -pysedelic, poetic and issue avoiding. It is really a ‘kail yaird’ farce with some modern trimmings: the novel on which it is based may be different.
Scotland, like the Republic will have to be careful that its entry into the consciousness of world cinema does not trap it into a mixture of tartanry and would-be gritty, but essentially soft-centred “modernity” – admitting there are queers in Jessieburgh, of all places, would be a start.
We in NornIrl, will be cursed with the ‘Troubles’ play/ film/novel/thriller – not to mention fucking textbooks in every fake-academic discipline you care to mention – for generations.
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