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Literature / The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs

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The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs is the sixth novel from Irvine Welsh, published in 2006.

Danny Skinner and Brian Kibby both work for Edinburgh's restaurant-inspection team as environmental health officers.

The plot describes Skinner's relationship with alcohol and his search for his unknown father. Gradually it dawns on him that the damage that ought to accrue to his body from his lifestyle is instead inflicted on Kibby. For a while he enjoys this, particularly relishing his promotion at work, but when Kibby becomes mortally ill he realises that he needs him. When Kibby comes out of hospital after a liver transplant, they both realise that their dependency is mutual. However, if you think this is where things move on to happier times remember this is an Irvine Welsh book.

Provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The Alcoholic:
    • Skinner. His alcoholism causes him to lose his girlfriend Kay.
    • Kibby becomes a heavy drinker in his own right after his liver transplant, no less.
    • We find out from his diaries that Kibby's father was one, though gave up the drink for the most part after disfiguring Donnie Alexander with hot cooking oil.
  • Book Within A Book: Skinner is reading a book by Edinburgh chef Alan de Fretais called The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs.
  • Dark Humor: An Irvine Welsh speciality, probably most prevalent when Kibby is suffering at the hands of Skinner, who gleefully undertakes drinking sprees, drug binges, and even being anally raped, and offering Kibby a hard chair the next day in work.
  • Disappeared Dad: Skinner never knew his father and there are a number of possible candidates that he eliminates as the book goes on. Keith Kibby does seem to have wanted to be in Skinner's life and even congratulated him on a goal he scored in a football match as a child.
  • Freudian Excuse: A large amount of Skinner's actions are in aid of finding his natural father - be it his personal life, his travels, his work, or even his death, where he dies happy due to finally knowing.
  • Football Hooligan: Skinner is a supporter of Hibernian F.C. (often known as Hibs). One passage even describes him enjoying a fracas with opposition supporters, not minding the brutal kicking he gets - courtesy of Kibby picking up the health tab.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Skinner and Kibby are strongly alluded to being half brothers at the end of the story.
  • Magical Realism: At some point, the damage that ought to accrue to Skinner's body from his lifestyle (the hangovers, the failing liver, the bruises from post-football skirmishes, etc.) is instead inflicted on Kibby. Kibby eventually figures this out and begins dishing out the damage to Skinner in return.
  • Mistaken for Gay: While generally being teased for his effeminate nature by hyper-masculine Skinner at work, Kibby attracts the attention of a gay pervert at a sci-fi convention, who even follows Kibby outside trying to hook up. Continued later when Kibby's best friend thinks Kibby did hook up with said pervert for rough sex - leading to a declaration of love to Kibby, who is not amenable to the assumption, or the offer of a homosexual relationship
  • Product Placement: Kibby drinks Horlicks and obsessively plays Harvest Moon.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Kibby and Skinner eventually bond somewhat, though at the climax Kibby ends up killing Skinner after being unable to shift his hatred for Skinner, realising he's absorbing Skinner's lifestyle. Somewhat averted, in the sense Skinner dies giving Kibby a thumbs up, as he has finally found out the identity of his father and genuinely is happy, and shows no outward enmity towards Kibby.
  • Wicked Cultured: Skinner relaxes by reading Hugh MacDiarmid, Rimbaud, Verlaine and Schopenhauer, and watching Federico Fellini films.