‘CHOOSE life. Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares. Choose reality TV. Choose slut shaming, revenge porn. Choose a zero-hour contract and a two-hour journey to work – and choose the same for your kids, only worse. And smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebody’s kitchen. And then? Take a deep breath…”

Well, put it like that, and it seems obvious we need a sequel to the Trainspotting movie, 20 years on. This is part of Ewan McGregor’s voiceover for the newly released trailer for “T2” (as they seem to want to call Trainspotting 2, no doubt for hashtag reasons).

Now we only have the promotional sizzle, and not the creative steak here. But even in this update of Rent Boy’s famous speech from T1 (OK, OK), it seems the spirit of alienation hasn’t changed, has maybe even intensified.

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The dog days of Thatcherism’s last decade, from early to late 90s, was when Trainspotting (and the works of its author Irvine Welsh) reigned supreme in this island’s popular culture.

The scene I always remember is sitting on public transport at some point in the mid-90s – Glasgow or London or Manchester, it didn’t matter – and looking across all the well-groomed young commuters in the carriage. Most of their faces would be scowling but rapt, lost in the writhing, transgressive pages of Welsh’s novels and short stories – Ecstasy, The Acid House, Marabou Stork Nightmares or Trainspotting.

Then they’d spring up, and get off at their appointed work stop, exercising their right to “choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments, choose a starter home, choose your friends”, as the original movie had it. No doubt with Welsh’s sulphurous excesses brewing away inside them, all the way till the mid-morning brunch break.

The readers and viewers of the Trainspotting generation weren’t being asked, as Timothy Leary asked in the 1960s, to “turn on, tune in and drop out”. That is, take drugs to deepen your consciousness, use that feeling to connect more profoundly with your environment, then commit yourself to an alternative lifestyle built from this new understanding. Nor was it quite the punk injunction to “destroy passers-by” as “Babylon burned” (to quote both the Pistols and the Ruts).

It was more that drugs of all kinds (and the intense digital beats that accompanied them) became a purely individualistic scrambling or numbing. A way to privately wriggle free from – but not necessarily confront – the very specific ways that retail capitalism was commanding you to be, perform and conform.

The Leftfield anthem still dominates the T2 trailer – those mournful cosmic chords, that “lagerlagerlager” chant, but most appropriately its title, “Born Slippy”. And “born slippy” is exactly what the Trainspotting universe asks you to keep being. You must try to evade all those delimited “choices”, as much as you can, within a system that gets ever stickier, ever more micro-controlling.

Yet Welsh’s characters aren’t always the human black holes that, say, the Scottish beat writer Alexander Trocchi specialised in (remember that Ewan McGregor also played the most notorious of these, in Young Adam). Welsh’s characters are often enterprising. They can reframe their circumstances, make something innovative or surprising happen for themselves.

Of course, their means of doing so deploys everything from wit to violence, business smarts to calibrated drug use, corruption to betrayal, creativity or destruction…whatever works to clear the next pathway ahead.

Welsh has said that T2 will sees his original characters trying their hand at various kinds of “vice”. From the trailer, this includes making Porno (the title of his literary sequel to Trainspotting), but also what looks like various hard-to-soft drugs schemes. So far, so familiar for all us commuters cruising the Welshian extremes.

There’s not much “commonweal” in the lives of Welsh’s characters, or at least any sense of nostalgia for a more settled era of work and community. Indeed, at the beginning of Skagboys, Welsh’s 2012 prequel to Trainspotting, Mark Renton is shown recoiling from his father’s political militancy, who has dragged his son to a violent miners’ strike picket in Yorkshire.

Welsh’s characters have sometimes been criticised for being just acquisitive, capitalist robots, poorly disguised by what Stirling University’s Scott Hames has called his “demotic speech and demi-monde slang”.

There’s an “ambivalence” in Trainspotting, Hames claims; a book that “rails against commodification, while rendering up ‘voice’ for touristic consumption … where vernaculars are systematically exploited for their cash-value.”

I don’t think that’s quite fair to Welsh – particularly if you expand your view to include his increasing piles of public commentary, book reviews and analysis over the last two decades. In 2001, I reviewed his book Glue, which attempted to launch another quartet of “radge” characters into the world.

It was then I realised that Welsh’s fiction is often dramatised social science. Two of them are Renton-like entrepreneurs, a cosmopolitan DJ (Carl) who says “ah belong everywhere”, and a boxer (Billy) who ends up excelling in business.

But Juice Terry and Gally are master-studies in masculine identity. The former measures the world against the perpetually straight line of his erection. The latter’s fragile mind has been scattered to the winds by one abusive, poverty-driven experience after the other.

The philosophers might call them “dividuals” rather than individuals. But if there is a better world in which Welsh’s wayward, incomplete selves might flourish, it’s won’t be one that points back to any kind of golden age.

In his political writings, Welsh has been the most pragmatic kind of independence supporter. Indeed, he has said in interviews that he would have been against indy when writing Trainspotting – yet he has enjoyed contributing to whatever sense of cultural self-confidence has helped get Scotland to this point.

But it was his rave review of the former Channel 4 economics editor Paul Mason’s book on post-capitalism, for the Bella Caledonia website that finally clarified for me what Welsh’s creative project is.

For Welsh, the book “dares to open up big, utopian thinking again, freeing us from the dreary dystopia of ‘nothing less than fully-fledged class war’ or ‘let’s just put up with it, as it’s the best we can do’. After three decades of the nihilistic and stultifying ‘end of history’ thesis, the pervading message is that the human spirit is alive and kicking”.

That’s exactly the trapped space that you sense characters such as Renton, Sick Boy, and even Begbie (in his recent incarnation in

The Blade Artist, Welsh’s most recent novel) have lived in for the last 20-odd years.

They’re always up for radical action – but can’t see any outlet for it other than ever more elaborate schemes for advancement, pleasure, cruelty, revenge.

Trainspotting 2 is going to be a major memory rush for an entire generation. Director Danny Boyle himself said he’d only come back to the movie when the actors had gotten “a lot more raddled by age” (they generally are, apart from Ewan McGregor who – going by the trailer – glows with Hollywood health).

In the dark of our movie halls,

I imagine there will be much puzzled assessment of the last two decades, both public and personal.

How did we get from there to here? To cite the famous Iggy Pop song from the first movie, how much of our “lust for life” remains – after the swan-dive of Blairism, the blootering of the Middle East, the crash of our economies, the meltdowns of our democracies, the distractions of our cyber-culture?

The last lines of the trailer are:

“So you were an addict? So be addicted. Just be addicted to something else … Choose the ones you love. Choose your future. Choose life.” Should we expect a note of collective optimism from the Radgemeister General, at the end of this rather nervously awaited sequel? And if we do, will we be able to cope with it? Maybe the most subversive, disruptive mentality of all is a hard-won hopefulness.

The Trainspotting 2 (T2) trailer is available at https://youtu.be/EsozpEE543w