Ferris Bueller – End of an Era

There is a moment in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Ferris tells his girlfriend that soon they will be leaving school and he will no longer see so much of his best mate Cameron. Their lives will go different ways and maybe they’ll see each other once or twice, from time to time, but it won’t be the same.

For the first two years of my secondary education I went to Redruth Grammar School in Cornwall. It was a relatively small place, only 600 pupils, some of the ‘masters’ still wore gowns. And though it’s a cliché  those days were some of the best of my schooling life. By the time I had reached what we then called ‘the fifth year’ I just wanted to get out. By then I was at a much bigger comprehensive school in Weston Super Mare. No slur on that school, I just had my best days in RGS in Cornwall and never quite recovered from first going comprehensive in 1976 and then moving to Weston in 1977. In the two years in RGS I felt part of something. I never really did again.
I can still remember my feelings one July evening in 1979 on the day I finished my schooling. That sense of elation that I would no longer have to go in and sit at those desks. I was and still am fairly shy and found classroom scenarios embarrassing and difficult sometimes.

In my hurry to escape school however I failed to recognise I was losing a small community of mates. Friends I had been ‘forced’ 🙂 to spend my days with. Most of them were going on to sixth form, I went off to count rather a lot of money in NatWest bank. We weren’t allowed to call it NatWest back then though – it was National Westminster – you more or less got fired for abbreviating it. It was of course another community of people, and we had some good times, usually when we should have been working… but it was an adjustment to find myself effectively losing that world of school friends (and holidays!). I was no good at staying in touch I’m afraid.

It struck me this time that Ferris Bueller is partly about the end of that part of life. Ferris tricks his parents and takes the day to live it up. Doing some extraordinary things. A teenager’s dream come true. It is a kind of glorious parting shot to being a school kid. The freedom to rebel and define your world by pushing the boundaries. When you move on all kinds of responsibilities seem to come your way. Often things that seem to belong to someone else when you’re at school. I did my best to stay in that rebellious attitude of mind for a while through my banking days. My first pay check went on a ‘hi fi system’ and I sometimes got into trouble for serious crimes against the banking world. Everything from not doing up my top button on my shirt, to pretending I was paying in money to my account from a bank raid. ‘What the bloody hell’s this?’ Was the manager’s cry when he found it.

I’m not really going anywhere with all this, so apologies if you were hoping for a pithy one liner at the end. Just some thoughts after watching Mr Bueller and his day off. Ferris’s mate Cameron has a huge blow out in the movie – rebelling against his fearful father by trashing the family Ferrari  A courageous if wasteful act, so it seems. However we do not see the scene where Cameron faces his dad and the cost of what he’s done. We applaud his breaking out of the unhealthy hold his dad has on him, but we’re spared the possible bloodbath that might follow. Movies are like that, they can lead the viewer to some heroic battles, but avoid the messy business of having to fight them to the end.

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Comments

  1. Tim Childs says:

    I felt the same way when I watched ‘American Graffiti’. It’s a funny joyous and even silly film, yet it’s heavily underpinned by a sense of nostalgia and a sense of loss, and a sense that once youthful vigour and joy are gone, nothing will ever be the same and nothing in your life will ever reach those innocent youthful heights again.

    Yes, it’s possible to feel happiness and sadness at the same time, and to be loud and bombastic and carefree but still be introspective and pensive and thoughtful; such is the nature of human beings.

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