Welsh's brutally honest prose and gallery of likeable ne'er-do-wells are in full display here, but the novel feels somewhat superfluous. Porno adds little insight into the characters or events of Trainspotting and fails to match its invention or sense of purpose. However, the author's obvious affection for these characters and dedication to authentically rendered dialogue and setting elevate Porno above mere slapdash reworking. As the novel builds momentum, Welsh wonderfully communicates the intense bravado driving his reckless characters. During such moments of vitality and humor, Porno is superficial but undeniably charming. --Ross Doll
Scam # 18,732
Croxy, sweating from exertion rather than from drug abuse for once in his life, struggles up the stairs with the last box of records as I collapse on the bed, gaping through a numb depression at the cream woodchip walls. This is my new home. One poky room, fourteen foot by twelve, with an attached hallway, kitchen and bath-room. The room contains a built-in wardrobe with no doors, my bed, and just about space for two chairs and a table. I couldn't sit in here: prison would be better. I'd fucking well go back up to Edinburgh and swap Frank Begbie his cell for this frozen hovel.
In this confined space the stench of old fags from Croxy is suffocating. I've gone three weeks without a cigarette, but I've passive-smoked about thirty a day just from being in his proximity. - Thirsty work, eh, Simon? You coming down the Pepys for one? he asks, his enthusiasm seeming like a gloat, a calculated sneer at one Simon David Williamson's reduced circumstances.
On one level it would be sheer fucking folly to go down Mare Street, to the Pepys, so that they can all snicker, 'Back in Hackney, Simon?' but, aye, company is what's wanted. Ears must be bent. Steam has to be let off. Also, Croxy needs an airing. Trying to give up fags in his company is like trying to come off gear in a squat full of junkies.
- You're lucky to get this place, Croxy tells me, as he helps me unload the boxes. Lucky my fuckin arse. I lie down on the bed and the whole joint shakes as the express train to Liverpool Street hurtles through Hackney Downs station, which is about one foot outside the kitchen window.
Staying put in my state of mind is even less of an option than going out, so we're cagily descending the threadbare stairs, the carpet so worn that it's as hazardous as the side of a glacier. Outside, sleet falls and there's a dull aura of festive hangover everywhere, as we make our way towards Mare Street and the town hall. Croxy, with absolutely no sense of irony, is telling me that 'Hackney's a better manor than Islington, any roads. Islington's been facked for years.'
You can be a crustie for too long. He should be designing websites in Clerkenwell or Soho, rather than organising squats and parties in Hackney. I put the cunt wise to the ways of the world, not because it'll do him any good, but simply to stop nonsense like that filtering into the culture unchallenged. - No, it's a step backwards, I say, blowing on my hands, my fingers as pink as uncooked pork sausages. - For a twenty-five-year-old crustie, Hackney's fine. For an upwardly mobile thirty-six-year-old entrepreneur, I point at myself, it has to be Izzy. How can you give a class bit of fanny in a Soho bar an E8 address? What do you say when she asks, 'Where's the nearest Tube?' - The overland's orlroight, he says, pointing up to the railway bridge beneath the turgid sky. A 38 bus chugs past, spewing its toxic carbon. These fucking London Transport cunts, they whinge on in their expensive pamphlets about the damage the car causes to the environment as they blooter in your respiratory system at will.
- It's no fucking awright, I snap, - it's shite. This place'll be the last part of north London ever to get the Tube. Even fuckin Bermondsey's got it now, for fuck sake. They can build it out tae that stupid fuckin circus tent, which nae cunt wants tae go tae, and they cannae do it here, that's well fucked.
Croxy's narrow face twitches in a sort of smile and he looks at me through those big, hollowed-out eyes. - You're throwing a right farkin moody today, aintcha, he tells me.
And it's true. So I do what I always do, drown my sorrows in drink, tell them all in the pub - Bernie, Mona, Billy, Candy, Stevie and Dee - that Hackney is just a temporary switch, don't expect to see me back on this manor full-time. No siree. Bigger plans, matey. And yes, I'm visiting the toilet frequently, but it's invariably to ingest rather than excrete.
Even as I'm shovelling it up my hooter, I realise the sad truth. Coke bores me, it bores us all. We're jaded cunts, in a scene we hate, a city we hate, pretending that we're at the centre of the universe, trashing ourselves with crap drugs to stave off the feeling that real life is happening somewhere else, aware that all we're doing is feeding that paranoia and disenchantment, yet somehow we're too apathetic to stop. Cause, sadly, there's nothing else of interest to stop for. On that note, rumours abound that Breeny's got a shitload of ching and a fair bit seems to be flying around already.
Suddenly it's tomorrow and we're in a flat somewhere hitting the pipe and Stevie's going on about how much it cost to purchase this load he's washing up and grudging crumpled notes come out as the stink of ammonia fills the air. Whenever that horrible pipe hits and blisters my lips, I feel sick and defeated until the toke sends me into another corner of the room: cold, iced, content, full of myself, talking shite, hatching plans to rule the world.
Then I'm out into the street. I didn't know that I was back in Islington, wandering around, until I saw the girl struggling with the map at the Green, trying to open it through her mittens, and reacted with a sleazy 'Lost, baby?' But the weeping tones of my voice, pregnant with emotion, expectation, and even loss, staggered me. I reeled back as much from the shock of this as from the hit of the purple tin I was holding. What the fuck was this? Who put this in his hand? How the fuck did I get here? Where are they all? There was a few moans and departures and I walked out into the cold rain and now . . .
The girl went as stiff as the stick of fleshy Blackpool rock in my troosers and snapped: - Fuck off . . . I'm not your baby . . .
- Sorry, doll, I brashly apologise.
- I'm not a doll either, she informs me.
- That depends on your standpoint, sweetheart. Try looking at it from my angle, I hear myself saying, like it's somebody else, and I see myself through her eyes: a smelly, dirty, purple-tinned jakey. But I've a job to do, birds to see, even a bit of money in the bank, better clothes than this stained and smelly fleece, this old woolly hat and gloves, so what the fuck's going on here, Simon?
- Piss off, creep! she says, turning away.
- I suppose we just got off oan the wrong foot. Never mind, the only way is up, eh?
- Fuck off, she shouts back over her shoulder.
Chicks, they can be a bit negative. I'm cursing my lack of knowledge with women. I've known a few, but my knob's always got in the way, come between me, them and something deeper.
I start to think back, attempting to recolonise my warped and overheated mind, stretching it out and breaking it down into units of perspective. It came to me that I'd actually been home, I'd got back to the new pad depressed that morning, having blown the last of the coke and started sweating and jerking off to a newspaper picture of Hillary Clinton in a power suit running for Senator of New York. I was giving her the old line about never mind those Jews, she was still a beautiful-looking woman and Monica wasn't in her league. Why, Bill needs his head looked at. Then we made love. After, as Hillary slept contentedly, I went next door to where Monica was waiting. Leith met Beverly Hills in a tasteful fuck of post-alienation. Then I got Hillary and Monica to get it on together while I watched. They'd resisted at first, but, obviously, I'd talked them round. Sitting back on that threadbare chair Croxy gave me, I relaxed to enjoy the show with a Havana cigar, well, a slim panatella.
A police car wails down Upper Street in a hunt for a slow civilian to maim as I shudder back into reality.
The bland but sordid nature of the fantasy causes me a bit of distress, but that's only because, I rationalise, that the comedown's making those ugly thoughts - that should be fleeting - stick around, clogging up the works, forcing you to engage with them. It's put me right off cocaine - not that I'll be able to afford any again for a while. Which is of no relevance at all when you're on it.
I'm on autopilot, but becoming slowly aware that I'm heading downhill from the Angel towards King's Cross now, inherently a sign of desperation if ever there was one. I hit the bookies in Pentonville Road to see if I can see any faces, but there's nobody I recognise. The scum turnover is high these days with vigilant polis everywhere around the Cross. They zoom about like powerboats through a swamp of sewage, only dispersing and displacing but never treating or eradicating the toxic waste.
Then I see Tanya come in, looking skagged. Her shrunken face is ash white but her eyes burn in recognition. - Darlin . . . she puts her arms round me. There's a skinny wee guy in tow with her, who I realise is actually a bird. - This is Val, she says, in the archetypal nasal whine of the London skag-bag. - Haven't seen you down here in ages.
I wonder why. - Aye, I'm back in Hackney. Temporary, likes. Been hittin the pipe a bit this weekend, I explain, as a squad of crackpot niggers jerk in: tense, rangy and hostile. I wonder if any cunt bets in this place. I don't like the vibe so we exit, that weird, anaemic-looking Val cow and one of the black cunts sniping something at each other, and head to King's Cross station. Tanya whinges something about cigarettes and, aye, I'm trying to stop but no way, needs fuckin must n all and I'm checking my pocket for slummy. I buy some fags, lighting up down the Underground. This fat, puffy, officious white cunt in one of those new light-blue, gay-stormtrooper London Transport uniforms tells me to put the snout out. He points to a plaque on the wall which commemorates the scores of people who died in a fire caused by some doss cunt's throwaway tab. - Are you stupid? Don't you care about that?
Who the hell does this clown think he's talking to? - No, I don't fucking well care, the cunts deserved it. You take that fucking risk when you travel, I snap at him.