Evening Times: Welsh will visit Waterstone’s in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow to talk about The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs. He will meet fans of his work to discuss his life, work and his new title which focuses on the modern day obsessions with food, sex and minor celebrities. The event begins at 6.30pm on Wednesday, August 11, and tickets cost £3, redeemable against the purchase of the book.
“If you put four dwarfs in one room with enough opium and alcohol, it’s bound to end in tears…In 1935, MGM studios embarked on a movie adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. The production called for the casting of many dwarfs to play the Munchkins of the mythical Land of Oz and the studio began recruiting ‘small persons’ from all over the world. During production, rumours spread around Hollywood of wild Munchkin sex orgies, drunken behavior and general dwarf debauchery. More sinisterly, a Munchkin is said to have committed suicide by hanging himself on the set during filming – what appears to be a small human body is clearly visible hanging from a tree in the Tin Woodman scene. It is a claim that has passed into Hollywood legend. Set in a hotel room in Culver City, California, “Babylon Heights” is Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh’s scabrous and hilarious imagining of what could, very possibly, have led to that dwarf suicide. “Babylon Heights” premiered at the Exit Theatre, San Francisco, in June 2006.”
The Scotsman: “Veteran television presenter Melvyn Bragg is to visit Leith for a South Bank Show special tracing the life and work of Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh.
Lord Bragg will interview the best-selling novelist, who was born and bred in the area. A string of locations which inspired Trainspotting, his famous debut novel, are expected to feature in the programme, which will be shown on ITV in the autumn.
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Researchers have been interviewing a number of local luminaries in preparation for Lord Bragg’s visit, including Mary Moriarty, landlady of the Port o’ Leith, one of Welsh’s favourite watering holes, John Paul McGroarty, artistic director of Leith Festival, and Tim Bell, the tour guide who leads Trainspotting tours around the port.
Among the locations expected to feature in the programme are the site of the former Leith Central Station, now home to the Scotmid supermarket, which inspired the title of Trainspotting.” [Read more]
Welsh writes in The Guardian about his motivations for writing his latest play, Babylon Heights, which is about the munchkins in the Wizard Of Oz and which opens in Dublin next month:
Last week, a disability group representing people of restricted growth attacked the production, which is very disappointing. I am sure that if they see it, they’ll change their minds. The play certainly doesn’t ridicule small people. Anybody turning up expecting to see Mini Me from Austin Powers, or the “baby” star of the current hit film in the US, Little Man, will be highly disappointed; none of the characters evoke these tired stereotypes.
The play resolutely attacks the spirit of discrimination, including the type actively practised by the studio at the time. It does this not by painting the characters as perfect and virtuous, but by making them real people. We have assumed that they have a sexuality, are influenced by carnal needs and experience the drives common to most human beings. I have yet to see any dramatic representations of persons of restricted growth that acknowledges this very basic fact.
Irvine Welsh – the former heroin addict, one-time socialist and best-selling novelist who famously chronicled the dying days of Thatcherism – has revealed himself as an unexpected convert to the Conservative cause.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, the author of Trainspotting spoke warmly of David Cameron’s attempts to revive his party in the wake of three shattering election defeats. He said of Mr Cameron: “What’s attractive about him, for me, is he is very much another Blair, but without the weariness and baggage.
“With Cameron, things feel very much like they felt when Blair was coming up to take over from Major. Just as Blair did for socialism, so I think Cameron is doing for traditional Toryism, or at least Thatcherism.” [Read more at The Daily Telegraph]
Irvine Welsh is celebrating a noisy addition to the list of interest groups offended by his literary oeuvre. A month shy of its European premier, disabled rights groups have launched an unlikely campaign against the Scottish author’s play Babylon Heights.
The show, which opens in Dublin, portrays the backstage “debauchery” of four of the “dwarfs” who played Munchkins in the film The Wizard of Oz. It has caused offence on two fronts. Disability groups reckon the script is disrespectful, citing PR bumf that describes: “wild Munchkin sex orgies, drunken behaviour and general dwarf debauchery”. [The Independent]
D&C;: I read somewhere that you’re a big Jane Austen and George Eliot fan. Some people might be quite surprised to hear that.
IW: I’ve kind of outed myself recently with that. What I hate is that when we think of Jane Austen, George Eliot, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, people think about Emma Thompson and costume dramas and people talking in these stupid fucking voices. But it was fuck all like that. They’re England’s equivalent of Braveheart: Scots dressing in fucking tartan. It’s edited exploitation for the American market. People wouldn’t have talked like that, they wouldn’t have looked like that, dressed like that, they wouldn’t have acted like that, flounced around like that. It’s fucking offensive fucking marketing, to sell to gullible Americans.
Full interview here
From The Herald:
Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting, is to make a move into television with a new series based around four drug addicts in Edinburgh.
Wedding Belles, written by Welsh, is to be produced for Channel Four. It is based around the lives of four women in Edinburgh who are addicted to drugs, “but not in a Trainspotting kind of way”, said a source close to the project.
It follows four female friends who have known each other since childhood and their escapades over one weekend.
One of the actresses in the show, playing a character called Rhona, is Shauna Macdonald, who currently appears in the series Spooks. She said: “Irvine Welsh has written the show and it’s quite like Trainspotting, but not as dark and really funny. Rhona is a crack-cocaine-smoking ex-model.”
The series is expected to begin shooting in Edinburgh this year, and Channel Four are to release more details next week.
There’s a similar news piece in The Scotsman as well, which claims Wedding Belles is based on Trainspotting – surely that’s not right?
Guardian: “JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie, Irvine Welsh and Jacqueline Wilson are among 150 authors who have pledged to help galvanize support for public libraries and combat their growing image problem.
The Love Libraries campaign published details today of all the authors and celebrities who have agreed to support the initiative by appearing in libraries or speaking about the contribution libraries make to public life.”