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Literature: Glue
"Spice ay life!"
Terry

Glue is the fourth novel by Irvine Welsh, published in 2001, concerning friendship, drugs, sex and getting by in a working class neighbourhood of Edinburgh. It charts the development and camaraderie of four ragtag lads at the beginning of four consecutive decades each; 1970 through to the Turn of the Millennium.

They are Billy Birrell, honourable street smart champion boxer; Terry "Juice" Lawson, easy going sex crazed layabout; Andrew "Gally" Galloway, Troubled, but Cute heroin addict who is estranged from his family; and Carl "N-Sign" Ewart, chemical DJ prodigy who supports Hearts, much to the dislike of his Hibee mates. We follow them through childhood upheavals, small time theft, casual battles with Scotland's teams, drug experimentation, holidays to Europe, struggles with the local scheme gangsters and the all-important pursuit of women so as "to get their hole" and perhaps more besides. The long reaching consequences of our actions and the permanent, devastating effects they have are explored from the outset.

Switching between the four protagonist's viewpoints and those of supporting characters, the novel features many of the stylistic and tonal devices employed by Welsh in Trainspotting. The accents are thick, the tone is claret black and the cynicism can be infectious. But counterpointing the despair are frequent moments of levity and optimism. Catharsis and redemption is the concluding theme. Carl's father provides ten fundamental guidelines for surviving in the scheme, which prove to be the novel's Arc Words.

Glue features the Trainspotting crew rather more frequently than some of the other works in Welsh's Shared Universe, for example a comedic meeting with Spud during a house break-in. In turn, the former's sequel Porno features Terry in a prominent role, along with Billy's brother Rab. Several other characters make cameo appearances. The Glue lads received a short story in the Reheated Cabbage anthology several years later.


Glue contains examples of:

  • Big Bad: Alex "Dozo" Doyle and his limited, schemie aspirations of a criminal empire.
  • Dirty Coward: "Polmont" McMurray is clearly kissing up to Dozo and the big boys for protection in a harsh, bleak scheme. He won't try on anyone harder than him without backup. He also barges his way in on Gail, taking Gally's daughter for himself in the process.
    • To a lesser extent, Dozo clearly relishes in having Gentleman as his bodyguard. By no means is he afraid to get his hands dirty, however.
  • The Dragon: Martin Gentleman, a hulking monstrosity of a man who serves as Dozo's right hand.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Gent won't let Polmont dare to attack an old, frail watchman during the copper bale heist.
  • Football Hooligans: The boys meet up with Dozo's gang, the Begbie brothers and Tommy from Trainspotting and infiltrate the Rangers ranks as casuals. What follows is a truly breathtaking battle with dozens of Hun supporters and a lucky escape from retribution. However, Franco, Gentleman and Terry are lifted by the police, which only serves to give them enhanced "hard bastard" street cred.
    • Subsequent encounters between Hibs and Aberdeen/Dundee in '90 and 2000, respectively, form the mayhem laden backdrop of more immediate drama for the lads.
  • Violent Edinburgher

    • Its worth noting what everyone does in the brawl against Rangers as an indication of their characters:
      • Renton and Spud chicken out and head to the safety of the Hibs end.
      • Gent hammers various fans so fast and viciously they have no chance to react. He also attempts Grievous Bottley Harm but the glass doesn't break.
      • Terry rushes in with snide punches, for him its all just for the rush and to laugh about afterwards.
      • Billy smacks as many different Huns as he can and then boxes with a guy in his forties. Billy is fifteen years old.
      • Dozo decks a guy with a kick and bull charges a large group.
      • Franco cracks a Hun with a surprise elbow to the face, hinting at his future sneak attacks in which he will utilise a barbaric arsenal of Improvised Weapon tools.
      • Gally just rides the surges of the crowd as best he can, taking his shots where available.
      • Carl holds back until he gets spat in the face, at which point he goes absolutely mental on his assailant.
      • Polmont takes the cowardly route, avoiding all of the violence.
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