School’s out for summer
Britannique installé en Corrèze depuis de nombreuses années, Mark Preece propose cette chronique hebdomadaire à tous les amoureux de la langue de Shakespeare. Aujourd’hui la fin de l’école.
Today is the end of my ordeal. No, it’s not the day when people stop talking to me about “Brexit” (I wish) ; or moreover that they make dubious sporting jokes about England leaving Europe twice after Monday’s defeat ; but the day my daughter has her last exam for the French part of her Baccalauréat. The oral exam which lasts 20 minutes and for which she has been preparing for the past two weeks complete with sharing her stress with us, her parents. That’s OK, after all. That’s what we’re here for. She has invited friends over for the night to celebrate the end of the school year and this reminded me of what is probably one of my favourite rock songs ever, by Alice Cooper. It came out in 1972. I was 11 and it was the year I left junior school and went on to the Judd Grammar School for boys, in Tonbridge, Kent, after successfully passing my 11 plus exam. I was proud because I had my first new uniform : blazer with breast badge, white shirt and tie and I wore long trousers ! The song was from the album School’s Out, was released as a single in April’ 72 and went to the top of the UK charts in the same year. Alice Cooper, in certain of his interviews, said he was inspired to write the song after being asked : « What’s the greatest three minutes of your life ? ». He replied that there were two times in a year, one was Christmas morning and the other was the interminable countdown to the end of the last day of school : « You’re sitting there and it’s like a slow fuse burning, if we can catch those three minutes in a song… ». It’s been covered over twenty times and used in half a dozen films, in particular by Alvin and the Chipmunk ; and even figures in the video game Guitar Heroes. Curiously, the image of the clock ticking on to the end of school was fully exploited at the start of the film High School Musical 2, a teen movie, with the opening sequence song asking the question “What time is it ?” and the answer resounding out “Summertime… School’s out, scream and shout”. The summer holidays are synonymous to winding down and having fun, the making and breaking of seasonal couples and the activity camps that are popular here in France and in America. From here, I wind down by wishing our friend’s from over the pond a great Independence Day (ironic) to come, my father a happy 80th birthday for Sunday and my Nephews courage, because they aren’t released until the 19 of July !