HE spent decades carrying around hilarious stories in his head about his deprived life growing up in Pilton in a family “bigger than the Broons”.
Now James Dean Divine has finally put pen to paper and written down his lifetime of tales – after being inspired by his friend Irvine Welsh.
My dad wired the electricity to a lamppost outside so come 5pm we could use the cooker and put the heating on. It was quite ingenious for a family who were struggling when you think about it.James Dean Devine
Mr Divine, from Newtongrange, said he was compelled to take the plunge after first meeting the Trainspotting author at a Hibs away match in Gothenburg, Sweden. The pair became good friends, with Welsh even performing the wedding ceremony of another mutual friend at Craigmillar Castle.
Mr Divine, 56, has published his memoirs of life growing up in the 1970s on the tough Pilton housing estate – just half a mile from Muirhouse, where Welsh grew up.
And his book, The Lost Tornado – a reference to Turnbull’s Tornadoes, the team of Hibs’ 1970s glory days – has become such a surprise hit that it even knocked Olly Murs’ new biography off the top slot in Amazon’s biography five-star review chart.
It starts off with a sad yet highly amusing account of the abuse his eight-year-old self received at the hands of the foster parents he was packed off to whilst his mother had another baby. It then follows the hilarious and turbulent life of the young Divine boy and his numerous siblings as they tried to fit in with neighbours and classmates despite crippling poverty.
“There were five boys and five girls all living in the same house,” said Mr Divine, who is creative director at a marketing and advertising agency in Leith. We had more family members living in the same house than The Broons. At one point we only had two bedrooms.
“My dad wired the electricity to a lamppost outside so come 5pm we could use the cooker and put the heating on. It was quite ingenious for a family who were struggling when you think about it.”
A big fan of Welsh’s novels and his unique writing style, Mr Divine became inspired by his new-found friend and decided to finally write down all the stories which had been brewing up inside him for years.
“He was definitely the catalyst, no question,” said Mr Divine.
“I had read Trainspotting quite a few times and loved the way he had done it, how he had captivated people by using the Scots language.
“It’s funny because Irvine grew up just half a mile away and Muirhouse was where I first played football, strangely enough. We probably played football there at the same time but it wasn’t till all those years later in Gothenburg that we actually met and became friends.”
As well as encouragement from Irvine Welsh, Mr Divine received practical help from Edinburgh author Tony Black – who just happens to be Welsh’s favourite crime writer.
Mr Divine added: “I had never written anything before, but people kept telling me I needed to write these stories down.
“I always had these stories in my head. When you grow up with nine brothers and sisters, things happen.”