David Gilmour: how to read like a guy

This won’t make any sense if you haven’t read the interview with David Gilmour published on 25 Sept 2013.

Twelfth Pissed Teen is a weekly measure of the gullibility and alcohol tolerance of blurred lovers, as told to Isabel Rogers. This week’s plank is Virginia, a first-year student at the University of Toronto, who has signed up for a modern short fiction course with Professor David Gilmour.

Yeah, we’ve got Professor Gilmour this year. He’s very enthusiastic. He loves teaching us about books he truly, truly loves. He’s an absolute natural in front of the camera. Oh, yeah – didn’t you know? – he had a camera put in at the back of the hall. I think it was just the one. He smiles at it sometimes when he’s talking. And winks. It’s kinda cool. I guess it’s a guy thing.

Sometimes when he gets out his treasure he lets us have the long version. Once we were there for 150 hours straight. We all took blankets and bedded down – there was no vanity between us. We were all very gay, in the Proustian sense. It was very, very funny. Also a bit trippy by the end, cos nobody had brought anything to eat and he wouldn’t let us leave until Proust had remembered, or passed something, I really can’t remember. Was it a gallstone? But it was very, very funny.

He’s a natural teacher. I mean, you can’t teach that. He knows how to talk. He says he only teaches the people that he truly, truly loves – he’s always saying that – which makes us all feel so special. That he loves us enough to teach us all. Well, except a couple of us: we have to sit at the side, on the pink chairs. He has the guys round him at the front, and that’s okay, you know? They do the real guy-guy things, like burp and fart I guess. I dunno – Jung and I are too far back to hear properly. Actually, we did one time, when he’d got indigestion trying to summarise the plot of Middlemarch when we queried it with him. There was this one huge burp, like he’d just cleared a restaurant. It was just that loud.

That reminds me actually of when Jung asked him about his novel A Perfect Night To Go To China and he got all shocked out of his pants when she asked him about the Chinese references. I think her Mandarin pronunciation of his name brought on some sort of fit. He started to do the loud guy-guy farting again and we just had to let it go. The air con wasn’t going to cut it.

Sometimes he brings in his own copies of texts, his “treasures” he calls them, with all his favourite parts underlined in different coloured crayons. It’s really cool to see those, to see how his middle-aged sexuality deals with eating menstrual pads. We offered to share some of ours for a practical session, to really immerse ourselves in the text, but he got that blotchy face again so we never did it. He looks well beyond his age. It can’t be good for him to have those spasms.

What stays with you after his classes are the hard facts. You gotta read. You gotta read like a guy. But read the right stuff, the serious heterosexual guys. And underline things a lot. I was so unbelievably inclusive when I started his course, but I know better now. Take War and Peace: I’m on my third time through it, and he only lets you use a pencil on the fourth time. He says we’re not sophisticated enough to do marginalia before then.

Oh yeah, I’m definitely going to take his class again when I get to the third year. He says he might let us look at one Virginia Woolf short story then, but his eye started twitching a bit when he looked over at Jung and me. He said we needed to be sophisticated, so Jung and I are going to spend our holidays getting cosmetic surgery to look like Grace Kelly. Maybe by our third year Professor Gilmour will let us back in. We sure hope so.