Irvine Welsh: ‘I had a criminal record aged 8’

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Irvine Welsh has revealed his first encounter with the police came at the age of just eight, when he and a group of friends were charged for playing football on a grass verge on the then new Muirhouse estate.

The best-selling author, who has written extensively on the social exclusion faced by the poorest Scots in society, said it was a formative early experience for him.

Irvine Welsh at the launch of his Trainspotting prequel, Skagboys, in 2012. Picture: Greg Macvean

Irvine Welsh at the launch of his Trainspotting prequel, Skagboys, in 2012. Picture: Greg Macvean

Welsh, whose latest novel will be published next month, said he did not think the arrest would have taken place in one of “the leafier bourgeois suburbs of Edinburgh”.

“The James Bond matinees at the State Cinema in Leith and the Lion Adventure series of books from Muirhouse library might have shaped my worldview, but I’m formed by Edinburgh, specifically its northern housing schemes, a geographically short but culturally long distance from the historic city centre experienced by tourists and visitors,” he wrote in a short essay for the Guardian. “Growing up where I did, you encounter the city as largely a place of exclusion and containment.”

He continued: “My first exposure to the law came when I was eight years old. Some pals and I were kicking a ball around on the grass verge in front of the maisonette block of flats in Muirhouse we had only just moved into. We all knew each other as we came from the West Pilton prefabs. There were no “NO BALL GAMES” signs in evidence, but we were apprehended by the police and formally charged under an obscure council bylaw; a bunch of boys ranging from six to 10 years old. Humanely, they let the six-year-old go, as he was distressed and crying. The rest of us had a day out in the city, up at the court on the High Street, accompanied by our outraged, disbelieving parents. I recall my dad doing his nut at the judge. It was educative and exciting.”

The Trainspotting author revealed last year that he will kill off one of his most famous characters in his next book, Dead Men’s Trousers.

The Muirhouse estate, where Irvine Welsh spent much of his childhood, in 2004. Picture: Cate Gillon

The Muirhouse estate, where Irvine Welsh spent much of his childhood, in 2004. Picture: Cate Gillon

The writer will reunite Renton, Begbie, Sick Boy and Spud for a new adventure in the upcoming novel, which is out on March 29.

Welsh has previously hinted the story could form the basis for a third Trainspotting film following the success of T2 Trainspotting which was directed by Oscar-winner Danny Boyle.

The new book is set in Edinburgh against the backdrop of Welsh’s football team Hibs’ Scottish Cup Final victory over Rangers in May, 2016.

READ MORE: Irvine Welsh to kill off Trainspotting character in new book