I was born in 1973. Although the memories are hazy at best, I would have gone to the cinema to see “Star Wars” when it was originally released. I can vaguely remember “The Empire Strikes Back”, and can clearly remember “Return of the Jedi”. More than the movies, I remember the experience of visiting the cinema with my Dad and brother – the feeling of exhilaration while walked out into the night air afterwards, and the excited conversation during the car journey home.
In the years that followed, each Christmas brought another spaceship from the Star Wars universe, and one or two more figures for my collection. I vividly remember the year the AT-AT arrived, towering over the assembled rag-tag fleet of spaceships that assembled under the stairs before lunch.
I spent countless hours playing with the Star Wars toys during my formative years. Bookshelves became space stations, with books pulled out to provide blast doors. Darth Vader remained the villain throughout – although he only ever had one or two storm-troopers under his command in my stories – because that’s all I had. I never had an Imperial Tie-Fighter either, so most stories involved the theft of the X-Wing, or my brother’s Snow Speeder.
It’s funny – the more I write, the more I remember.
One day in my early teens – after computers had entered my life and swept all toys before them, my Mum told me about a fund-raiser for a local children’s home that was happening – and would I like to donate the Star Wars toys. I didn’t hesitate.
Collectors are probably grimacing at this point, but my Star Wars toys were played with – not locked in glass cabinets and admired – and they went on to be played with. We found out years later that the children’s home didn’t sell the Star Wars toys – they kept them. Countless children in their care shared them, and created their own memories with them.
Fast forward thirty years, and I (of course) took my own children to watch the new movies – to cheer as Rey awakened the force, to cry as first Luke and then Leia died, and to walk into the night air exhilarated all over again.
For several years my youngest daughter went everywhere dressed as a Jedi. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.