The Number One Bestseller

Mark Renton has it all: he’s good-looking, young, with a pretty girlfriend and a bright future. But there’s no room for him in the 1980s and when his family starts to fracture, Mark’s life swings out of control. The way out is heroin. It’s no better for his friends – Spud Murphy is laid off from his job, Tommy Lawrence finds himself sucked into a life of petty crime, violence and the world of the psychotic Franco Begbie. Only Sick Boy seems to ride the current, scamming and hustling his way through it all. Exhilarating and moving, Skagboys charts their journey from likely lads to young addicts in a decade which changed Britain forever.



The copper stares at us in utter contempt. Nae wonder; aw he sees in front ay um is this mingin cunt, twitchin n spazzin oan this hard seat in the interview room. -Ah’m oan the program, ah tell um. -Check if ye like. Ah’m aw seek cause they nivir gied us enough methadone. They sais they hud tae fine-tune ma dosage. Check wi the lassie at the clinic if ye dinnae believe us.

-Boo-fucking-hoo, he sais, a mean expression oan his face. -Why am I not tearing up on your behalf, my sweet, sweet friend?

This cunt has cold black eyes set in a white face. If he didnae huv a dark pudding-basin haircut and his neb wis bigger, he’d be like one ay Moira and Jimmy’s budgies. The other polisman, a louche, slightly effeminate-looking blonde boy, is playing the benign role. -Just tell us who gives you that stuff, Mark. Come on pal, give us some names. You’re a good lad, far too sensible tae get mixed up in aw this nonsense, he shakes his heid and then looks up at me, lip curled doon thoughfully, -Aberdeen University, no less.

-But if ye check yi’ll find that ah’m oan the program…at the clinic likes.

-Bet these student birds bang like fuck! In they halls ay residence. It’ll be shaggin aw the time in thair, eh pal, the Pudding Basin Heided Cunt goes.

-Just one name, Mark. C’mon pal, begs Captain Sensible.

-Ah telt ye, ah say, as sincerely as ah kin, -ah see this boy up at the bookies, ah jist ken him as Olly. Dinnae even know if that’s his right name. Gen up. The staff at the clinic’ll confirm-

-Ah suppose prison’s like the halls ay residence, apart fae one thing, Pudding Basin goes, -no much chance ay a ride thair. At least, he laughs, -no the sort ay ride ye’d want, anywey!

-Just gie the clinic a quick phone, ah beg.

-If ah hear the word ‘clinic’ come out ay your mooth again, son…

They keep this shite gaun fir a bit, till a legal aid lawyer, whae’s been appointed for us, thankfully comes in tae end the torment. The polis leave n the lawyer gadge gies us the news ah want tae hear. It’s a stark choice: basically either jail (at least remand until it goes tae court) or rehab, in a new project, which ah huv tae sign up tae for 45 days, or ah’m charged wi the original offence. -It’s not the easy option. It means being drug free, he explains, -even your methadone will be stopped.

-Fuck...ah gasp. -Ah’m no sure tae definately get a prison sentence, am ah? No jist fir thievin a poxy collection tin?

-Nothing’s certain at all these days. It doesn’t look good though, does it? These were monies collected by an elderly shopkeeper for an animal welfare charity.

-Ye pit it like that...ah feel ma shoodirs hunch north in acknowledgement.

The boy takes his specks off. Rubs at the indentations they’ve left oan the side ay his beak. -On one hand the Government are encouraging the authorities to come down hard on drug use, on the other they’re acknowledging the growing problem of heroin addiction in the community. So there is the strong chance of a custodial sentence if you don’t co-operate with this rehab program. Your parents are outside, and have been informed of the situation. What do you want to do?

Decisions, decisions.

-Ah’ll sign up.


“Masterful… its banter, outrage and razor wit sing off the page”

- Independent

“Brilliant and even more thrilling than its predecessor”

- Mail on Sunday

“Quite simply a masterpiece”

- Scotsman