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Why the name Trainspotting?

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message 1: by Johny (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Johny Does anyone have any theories?

message 2: by Paul (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:07PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Bryant If you've read it you will know there's a section called Trainspotting in which Begbie and a couple of others go to the train station with the sole idea of finding some poor lone random joker there and giving him a profound kicking. They jocularly call this outdoor hobby of theirs "trainspotting" after the weird practise of train fans in the UK. Wikipedia describes train spotting as follows

"Those who are "trainspotters" make an effort to 'spot' all of a certain type of rolling stock. This might be a particular class of locomotive, a particular type of carriage or all the rolling stock of a particular company. To this end, they collect and exchange detailed information about the movements of locomotives and other equipment on the railway network, and become very knowledgeable about its operations.

The equipment of a trainspotter consists of: a data book listing all the locomotives or other equipment in question, in which locomotives seen are ticked off; a notebook and pens, to note sightings for transfer to the book at leisure, and an infinite supply of patience. In the UK, this aspect of the hobby was given a boost by the Ian Allan "ABC" series of booklets from the 1940s onwards.

Some trainspotters now use a tape recorder instead of a notebook. In modern times cellphones and/or pagers are used to communicate with others in the hobby, while various internet mailing lists and web sites aid information exchange. Railfans can maintain private computerized databases of spotting records as well. Radio scanners are common equipment for listening to railroad frequencies in the US to follow rail traffic."

Paul Sarte It is also slang for trying to find a vein to shoot in.

Dave I read it as a metaphor for the pointlessness of their existence. A chapter title is "Trainspotting at Leith Central Station", a disused/derelict station.

Richard Dave's right as far as i recall, i think Wikipedia gives the same explanation

Rebecca I sort of saw it as a metaphor for heroin addiction. Trainspotting is more of a lifestyle than a hobby, and it's something that people on the outside of it just can't see the appeal of at all, similarly to the 'junkie' lifestyle. At least, those were my thoughts.

Darren Steven I beleive it relates to the Chapter mentioned above. Begbie and Renton are walking past or throiugh the old Station when a jakey asks them if they are trainspotting. The jakey turns out to be Begbies Father, although Begbie does not state this I think Renton confirms it during his narration. This then leads to Begbie giving a random person a good kicking.

message 8: by Paul (last edited Feb 21, 2014 04:12AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Bryant I agree, this title is unnecessarily obscure. Like many titles - The Postman Always Rings Twice, Straw Dogs, etc.

Sean Paul wrote: "I agree, this title is unnecessarily obscure. Like many titles - The Postman Always Rings Twice, Straw Dogs, etc."

The hobby may be obscure, but it's metaphor, and not a particularly abstruse one. Like any well titled book there is payoff once you read it.
To learn that it is slang for finding a vein makes it even more effective.

David Streever I disagree Paul, I don't think it is 'unnecessarily obscure' at all. I thought the obscurity was completely necessary.

message 11: by Ken (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ken Pomarco Welsh explains it near the end of Skag Boys.

message 12: by Matt (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Williams Irvine Welsh is a genius! A friend of mine that I met travelling gave me Porno last year. I'd given him my novel to read, and after reading it, he came back with Porno for me. Honestly, I was flattered that my writing had even triggered him to think about such a fantastic author. When I finished Porno, I went onto read Skag Boys; I was not disappointed. I'm trying to get a hold of Trainspotting at the moment but it is proving to be difficult in Cambodia.

If you'd like to check out my book, here is my website:

message 13: by Matt (last edited Apr 28, 2015 11:46AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Williams P.S. In regards to why it is called 'Trainspotting' it is because when Welsh was growing up in Edinburgh there was a abandoned train station that drug addicts used to use to pin up in. When they'd go there they'd often say they were going 'train spotting'

Blastronaut There's an area down near the train lines close to where I live where trainspotters would (probably still do) park up to see the trains; H users would also go down there at night (probably still do) to do a bit of 'Trainspotting'. Also, for what it's worth, 'Mainlining' is a term for intravenous drug use... or at least around here it is.

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