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Trainspotting: Spud

Amiable, childlike loser who always gets the wrong end of the deal

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It seems surprising that the drug of choice for Spud (Ewen Bremner) should be heroin - he has the disposition of a hippie and the energy of a speedhead, but then it's probably just another bad decision in a life full of wrong turns. The film's most comic and sympathetic figure, he is nonetheless something of a victim, albeit through his own taste for excess.

Nothing goes right for Spud, and his life stumbles from one calamity to the next. When the friends initially kick heroin and their bodies start to function again, Renton's 'unblocking' occurs when the nearest toilet is the stinking hole in the local bookies. An unpleasant experience, perhaps, but nothing in comparison to the regeneration of Spud's bowels. After a night of excessive drinking, he passes out in his girlfriend's bed, only to wake up to discover that he's soiled himself. He admits the problem to his girlfriend's family and, in a tussle with her mother over who will clean the sheets, manages to spray the breakfast table and everyone around it with his faeces. Renton escapes prison while Spud gets ten months; when the others are clean, Spud's found wasted in a gutter - it's a continual downward spiral.

Laid back enough to always fall off the wagon, Spud is the ultimate suggestible type, to the point where you feel he goes along with the actions of his peers simply to avoid conflict. When Renton claims that he, Sick Boy and Spud make the "healthy, informed and democratic decision" to get back on heroin, Spud is presumably relieved to experience again the escape the drug offers. However, one wonders how much of a part he had in the decision, and whose idea it was to start using in the first place. It's hard to imaging Spud putting up much resistance.

Shambling and genial, Spud's loveable characteristics stem from a childlike innocence and a complete absence of malice. He never says a bad word about anyone - and this isn't just due to his consistently inebriated slur. Spud imbues the film with an unflappable humanism and, in a rogues' gallery, he is an ever-affectionate jester.

Paul Clarke

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