‘A Decent Ride’ – Irvine Welsh

The ‘Trainspotting’ author retains his title as the honorary mayor of the seedy underbelly.

Upstanding chap, of solid moral character.
Upstanding chap, of solid moral character.
Being exposed to the worlds and characters author Irvine Welsh creates is an experience in itself; something unlike anything you may have encountered in real life (hopefully) or in fiction. In 2014 he unleashed the amusingly titled The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins, which was wholly ingenious in its depiction of a pair of the most unrelentingly deranged and broken individuals who ever walked the earth. But the way he wrote the narrative and how the thing unfolded was a quiet bit of genius. What you thought was going to evolve one way went the diametric opposite. One could not help but be fascinated by the literal and narrative insanity within his pages.

His latest work, A Decent Ride, returns to his Trainspotting/Filth-set Edinburgh from Sex Lives’ transplanted locale of Miami’s South Beach. But the sheer volume of fuckeduppitude remains, thankfully diluted across a small cortege of Scottish characters. The ‘ride’ of the title is twofold – our main protagonist is a cab driver, but he’s also packing some serious trouser gear and is 100% fixated on sexual conquest. As the story of cabbie/sometime porn actor ‘Juice’ Terry Lawson rolls on, we found out that the ‘decent ride’ of the title is also the modus operandi of his existence. It would be the thing that cures all which ails you, but as the excesses of his life catch up with old Terry, it winds up being potentially the thing that will send him off.

the book requires your mind’s narrator to adopt a deep, thick highland brogue allowing you to have the very first clue what’s being said and done.

We also meet wee Jonty, a boy with a good sense of right and wrong, but not much up top. He’s compensated by a whole lot down below, but the lack of wherewithal to know when it’s doing the right or wrong thing. So we have tales abounding involving incest, prostitution, drug use, beatings, pornography, and one particularly unsettling image of a morbidly obese corpse causing a crematorium to explode, showering a local thug in boiling hot human fat. And vomiting on a rotting corpse.

A Decent Ride is Welsh at his twisted, (shall we just call it what it is) perverted best. The book is written from the POV of Terry, then from Jonty, then from Terry’s cock, then from the third person omniscient, with occasional extracts from a diary or two, and a character modeled after Donald Trump, but with a mohawk. Much of it is written not in a Scottish parlance, but with a honey-thick Scottish accent, so the book requires your mind’s narrator to adopt a deep, thick highland brogue allowing you to have the very first clue what’s being said and done. Observe:

‘Wir lyin thaire in the kip, n wi order a boatil ay red wino n a sanny oan the room service. Shouldnae be drinkin n drivin, but ah’ve got a wee livener in ma tail tae sort ays oot.’

(Wherein the gentleman suggests that in a state of post-coital repose, a fine red wine is ordered with a sandwich from the hotel’s room service. He takes a measure of caution about the perils of operating his automobile while under the influence, but is reassured by his having some illicit chemical remedies waiting for him in the car, which he believes will counter-balance the effects of the alcohol.)

So what one must do to have any chance of understanding what’s going on and who’s saying what to who else, is adopt the voice of Robert Carlyle or (better still) Peter Capaldi in your head. Nobody swears like The Thick of It Malcolm Tucker. Casting the film adaptation of this piece ought to be a breeze…

It is quite ludicrously entertaining, and the rare commodity of being actual fun to read wherein the challenge lies in knowing exactly what’s going on because of the novelty accented prose. This is a clever, filthy book about some of the most messed up humans alive.  Ergo, a perfect Christmas gift for the whole family.

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