#AMREADING David Gilmour’s The Perfect Order of Things
Autobiographies are often brag-sheets. This one is different. Gilmour revisits his failures.
One of life’s great pleasures lies in giving the bird to people and places where you were once a flop. Fuck you, May-Lou, and so on. But with the greying of my hair I have discovered that it’s a little more complicated than that. For one thing, your body remembers failures more easily than success – especially youthful failures:
She went up the Ferris wheel with me as my girlfriend and when she came back down, she was someone else’s. It was the first romantic betrayal of my life.
It’s doubly painful because having a beautiful girlfriend is a certain kind of delicious when you’re young.
Boarding school was another place of failure Gilmour had to live down. Suddenly he was one of those guys, along with the chronic masturbators and pimple squeezers and unloved children whose parents plied the civil service in Nairobi or Senegal or East Timor… those dandruffy, never-have-a-date, sad sack pooches you saw doing their homework on a Friday night!
Years later he meets someone at a reception who has climbed past him on the career ladder and remembers his mistakes: His face hardens with politeness…You don’t talk to guys like that, you banter.
Drinking is a great cure for what ails you, but what’s the cure for a hangover? For some people it’s great literature. I lay on my side like a wounded animal, waiting to be rescued by sleep’s second act which didn’t’ come. I opened War and Peace and, facing the white stucco wall, sweat already dribbling across my chest, began to read.
Gilmour still has his old copy of War and Peace. I have a check mark beside the paragraph where, even in the roller-coaster grip of a white rum hangover, I began to pay acute attention.