Irvine Welsh, Filth

by B Thornton- Harwood

I go back past the central admin unit, but there’s still nae sign of thon blonde piece. At the downstairs bogs I weigh myself on the scales. My Weight is still going down. I hope I’ve not got AIDs or something, from some fucking hoor. I can’t put on weight, never could, not like some of the blobs in this place. If it was up tae me, I’d weigh every cunt on the force annually and whoever didn’t make the weight would be out on their fat arses. Weightest? you fuckin well bet your sweet ass. I get a whiff from the canteen. I investigate and it’s fish pie. -Awright Ina? I ask the auld girl behind the counter


I’ve got the hump. There are a few contributing factors to this, I am hung over, I spent too much money last night, my laptop is off being fixed after I corrupted the hard drive, so I’ve probably lost a metric fuck-tonne of work including this review that I’m having to write all over again because I know for a fact I didn’t save it, and besides only idiots backup their hard drive, am I right?

So I’m currently using my sister’s ancient laptop that is about as fast as a big fat spastic girl and makes the same amount of bloody noise.

All of this has put me in a mindset that is probably quite conducive to writing about Irvine Welsh’s Filth. Bruce Robertson is a copper with a nasty case of haemorrhoids, a penchant for posh and prostitutes, and as corrupt as an African presidential election.

I was first introduced to Welsh’s writing with Trainspotting about 4 years ago, making a conscious effort to read the novel before watching the film, and after seeing the trailer for Filth starring James McAvoy and coming out October 4th thought I mayaswell do the same.

Bruce is on the cusp of a promotion at work, and if he can solve a case of a racially aggravated murder it’s probably his. Now it’s times like this I wish I didn’t use the word so much because it has lost the necessary emphasis but Bruce Robertson is the very personification of a cunt.

He goes out of his way to make his colleagues lives miserable. He uses his Masonic connections to manipulate his work superiors. He’s a drug addled alcoholic. He treats women in horrendous ways, committing vile, often insanely illegal acts that were at times extremely difficult to read. Whilst his racism would have even the most thorough, EDL-supporting, Stella-drinking, skinhead-scaffolders saying: “that’s a bit much mate.” Everything about Bruce urges you to despise him. And yet in spite of myself the more I read the more I actually cared for him in some perverse way.

I thoroughly enjoy Welsh’s style of prose, using Scottish phonetics throughout means that you’re constantly reading in a Scottish accent. This does mean you can’t really dip in and out of the book as it can take a little while to fall back into the swing of the text, which at times might as well be a whole other language.

The bulk of the book goes into details of Bruce’s sordid life, from a holiday to Amsterdam, to trying to bed his best mate’s wife, and a lonely Christmas day.

Until the final 100 pages or so when the gas gets turned right up and we’re told why he uses the term “spastic” so much, where his abhorrence towards black people came from, why he’s so hate-filled and unpleasant. This all builds up to a roaring crescendo and a beautifully abrupt ending.