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Features - Irvine Welsh
simon skinner

Irvine Welsh At Filthy McNasties

Tuesday 9th November 1999

Another stonking Vox and Roll at Filthy McNasties with the main "Filth" man giving a secret reading of a prose poem written in verse (more of that later.) Your intrepid Oilzine reporter and friend to the stars headed out into the November night (first sign of cold in the air.) Instructed to get there early by erstwhile DJ, screenplay writer and novelist Dean Cavanagh, the night started strongly with Oilzine regular Paolo Hewitt giving a fluent reading from his upcoming guide to Modernism - Soul Stylists. Then the surprise slot of the evening unknown and unpublished poet Ronan Walsh, a name dear readers, you'll be hearing a lot about in years to come I'm sure, literally forced himself onto the platform. All night he'd been wandering around peddling a kind of Brendan Behan line about just getting off the boat from Ireland and drunk and needy, clutching a poem in his potato-famined hands (Uh what year is this - Ed?) and he accosted your dear Oilzine reporter by the bogs.

Do you know Irvine?

No, I said.

You're in his crowd.

No I know people who know him, that's all. Why? What do you want?

I want to read tonight. One poem. I've just come over from Ireland and I've just got to read this poem tonight. I'm not leaving until I do. I'm not taking no for an answer.

All right. Let me look at it.

I stood in the McNasty famous latrines and read the ballad 'Fitzroria… (something) - straight away I could hear its lyric quality, a beautifully captured musical cadence in the rise and fall of the line.

What do you think?

It's good. I'll see what I can do. I know the promoter vaguely and a couple of the other writers. They won't mind.

Anyway to cut a long story short I lost my mind as he read. Full of that kind of crazed - this is the moment I've waited for all my life - energy the author took the platform and his Fitzrovian ballad sang out and won over the 'who the fuck's this guy?' audience. After the cheers subsided Dean Cavanagh took the stage (actually an actor he had reading for him) and read a section of prose around the theme of R.E.S.P.E.C.T - the language stuffed with similes and marauding metaphors - the laughs came thick and fast. Finally the main man himself, Mr Irvine Welsh - to you sonny - took to the stage. He read a short piece of verse based around the idea of a very fat man with way too many E's in him imploding on a dancefloor! Irvine read confidently and got off quick. I spoke to him later and he explained the poem (which was greeted enthusiastically by the crowd) as a move towards a more structured approach. He said he wanted to collaborate more, learn from others, be told what to do - maybe even told what to write for a while. He said too much freedom can turn you nuts and you get self-indulgent. He then told me which pub to meet for the Scotland England game and that was that. I left.

Vox and Roll is every Tuesday at Filthy McNasties, Hanwell Street, Angel, Islington


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