On a recent visit to New York, I encountered my mortality - not in the more traditional area of its mean streets, but in one of its many cool museums, where I discovered that the toys I’d grown up with as a child now qualified as museum pieces.
One exhibited in particular leaped out at me like a long lost totem, and brought on a series of Linklater-like flashbacks: the moment I was ridiculed for sporting a Return of the Jedi pencil case one afternoon during first year at Mount Temple, that was it. Mazel Tov! I was officially a ‘man’. Star Wars had reached its original zenith that summer of ‘83, with the release of the third and final chapter in the childhood of many of millions of boys and future middle-aged men. It was a long slow trek to the world of girls thereafter (for some of us), so I didn’t stop caring overnight. I never really stopped caring. And, more importantly some would say, I kept EVERYTHING.
As the years passed, whenever life got that bit too much, I would retreat to the attic of whatever house I was living in at the time - for that is where most of my surviving Star Wars collection would spend their wilderness years. High above the rafters, I would crack open my case containing classic Kenner action figures, die-cast starships, and a giant Millennium Falcon. And suck in rejuvenating breaths of (hopefully asbestos-free) hardened plastic boyhood, some MIB (Mint In Box).
It’s supposed to be that, eventually, you become your parents. Wrong. Eventually, your parents become you and haunt you for Last Jedi tickets.
When Star Wars suddenly became relevant again it was quite a shock. God god, a Class of 1977-83 reunion! Han, Luke, Leia and I, together again for old time’s sake. In all honesty, it was a lot to take on board. When it was revealed Ireland itself, in the shape of Skellig Michael, would factor into the new saga, there was just no getting away from it. Literally.
In the end, how could I not be disappointed with The Force Awakens? Han Solo gets (SPOILER ALERT) his comeuppance at the hands of the guy from Girls. Luke is a depressed recluse who only comes out of his hole at the last possible minute, when it’s far too late. And Leia is left to carry everything alone. Something poor Carrie Fisher would not eventually survive.
When I left the cinema with my Mum and Dad - God knows, none of us are MIB anymore but I brought them to maintain a balance in the force of nostalgia. I discovered, to my surprise, they loved it. I mean LOVED it. Even my mother! I lied and said I did too. Ah, I did enjoy myself, but inside I was kind of empty. The post-credits scene of my boyhood had just played out thirty-two years after the pencil case incident had signaled the end, and - shockingly - it didn’t feature a final class reunion aboard the Millennium Falcon between the Skywalker siblings, the space pirate, and me. That’s all I wanted, really. That, and some cool space action. Of which there was surprisingly little. There was action. Lots of it. But it all seemed to happen below the atmosphere.
Semantics, it might be, but hey, it was my childhood.
Last Christmas, I had to explain to my parents that, yes there was a new Star Wars film out, but no, neither Carrie Fisher or Skellig Michael are in it. It’s a spin off. 'What’s a spin off?', they replied. Well, sort of what Bracken was to The Riordans, except with Peter Cushing instead of Gabriel Byrne. Yeah, I know he’s dead. You guessed it: I didn’t care for Star Wars: Bracken, AKA Rogue One. Gift space battles, and yeah Gabriel Byrne was good. But they spent too far much time setting up Glenroe.
It’s supposed to be that, eventually, you become your parents. Wrong. Eventually, your parents become you and haunt you for Last Jedi tickets. We’re booked for Sunday. My mum will be smuggling in the snacks in a secret compartment in her bag. While my my dad will be powering up their bi-focals. I’ll be the hairy one at the end of the row making Wookie noises about how it was much better in my day.
The Last Jedi (in case you hadn't heard) is in cinemas everywhere now.