The Inventory: Irvine Welsh

Irvine Welsh, 53, has written books, plays and screenplays, including the novel Trainspotting, its sequel Porno and its recently published prequel Skagboys.

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What was your earliest ambition?

To be an astronaut. I switched to inner space rather than outer space.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

Ainslie Park High School, then straight to work as an apprentice audiovisual technician, fixing radios and TVs. I hated every school, college, university and workplace I’ve ever been in, though I liked the camaraderie. I went to university later on in life; it got better but it was always a struggle for me to sit and listen.

Who is your mentor?

Outside the family and close friends, the person that’s influenced me most is Iggy Pop. I’m working with him now, he’s a really wise, smart guy.

How physically fit are you?

Better than most men in their fifties. I go to the gym three or four times a week and I still do boxing, sparring and circuit training.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Luck is a big part of it. But out of the two, ambition.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

When I was younger. The score was either pretty high or extremely low – it was just another test for me, I can’t remember.

How politically committed are you?

I would prefer to be more committed but, like most people, I haven’t got a clue. Politicians and pundits are as clueless as the rest of us.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

I don’t, no. My wife’s really ecology-conscious and always going on at me about it.

Do you have more than one home?

Yes, four. I live in three and rent the other one out.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

Nothing. The only reason I’ve got four homes is because I like a change of scene, I’ve got no desire to stuff them with trinkets.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

The four homes; it’s an obscenity when some people don’t have one, I’m aware of that.

In what place are you happiest?

When I’m just arriving somewhere.

What ambitions do you still have?

To write a book or be involved in writing a film that will blow me and everyone else away.

What drives you on?

I always want to do better. Anything you’ve already done doesn’t count.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

Being with the person I’m with now. If you’re happy in your own life, that gives you a tremendous platform to do other stuff.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

I’ve lost a lot of fantastic people before their time, especially my father, who died when I was in my early twenties. He didn’t see all the things I’ve done since then. He was a great guy, I miss him big-time still. Also my friends Paul Reekie and Tich Grant. They’ve left a huge gap.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

I’d have the conceit he’d think I was cool, but he thought everybody over 24 was a nonentity.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

Start again. What else is there? And hopefully make different mistakes.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

Not for myself. But if someone wants to cancel the gig, it’s their decision.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

I like to hope so. But if there is a creator, I’m sure they’d rather we got on with things here and made the world a beautiful place. We’ll all know soon enough.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

100. I’ve already had 10 times better and fuller a life than I could have predicted.

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