Rage

Irvine Welsh's latest novel The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs is published by Jonathan Cape/ Vintage. His new novel Crime will be published in July.

www.irvinewelsh.net

Well-measured explosions and exit strategies

It's been a long and occasionally painful life lesson, but I've learned that rage, like fear, is an emotion best denied public expression. I now seldom go in for that sort of outburst unless it's absolutely essential. I believe in the truth of the old maxim: losing the rag usually means losing. In my youth, I recall several half-arsed fights spent rolling around in gutters with unremarkable strangers over some real or imagined petty slight that I'd either suffered or issued. With violence, like other things, you tend to find your own level, and I was a crap fighter who usually fought (thankfully) other crap fighters. Nonetheless, there's something very demeaning about it. And it's never a good idea to give away what makes you angry. It only encourages people to wind you up.

I've generally ceased challenging those who make racist remarks in pubs as I've realized that they tend to be simpletons. Most real racists (those with fascistic or supremacist beliefs) now have more sense than to do monkey chants or verbally abuse black footballers – at least in the UK. This is now solely the preserve of educationally subnormal half-wits, desperate for some sort of reaction. It's better to either ignore them or laugh in a way that lets them know that they are the fitter target for derision.

It's interpersonal rage, when the anger you have for some sort of injustice or state of affairs, piece of music or art (there's always something to be enraged about) is manifested on a tangible human target. It needn't be the obvious ones. If you're anti-racist, the mealy-mouthed politician who babbles on with ceaseless insincerity about "multiculturalism" may just get your goat more than the thick bloater who makes a knee-jerk, bigoted remark. Similarly, if you detest global poverty, your anger might be directed at the self-sanctifying millionaire pop star preaching at you, before the silent, corporate WASP-like businessman. After all, how many times can an egotist tell you we can "make poverty history" by going to one of their pop concerts before the penny starts to drop?

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