There are some childhood rites of passage that never made it to the Isle of Wight in the ’80s. Although we did have a Wimpy restaurant, it speaks volumes about the beautiful (ish) island I once called home, that the Wimpy is still there. Is your childhood Wimpy still there? Thought not.
I went to the cinema once as a child, to see Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I remember announcing I didn’t want to go, being told I had to, then falling in love with Michael Jackson. By the time I was a teenager I’d ditched MJ in favour of Keanu Reeves, who after a few years muddling along with a pot belly, is hot again, so I win the long game. #NeverForgetKeanu
A deprived childhood spent counting the dead cuttlefish washing up on the shores of the island (obvs I’m exaggerating my way to the point – my childhood was totes middle class) led me to spend my adult life failing miserably at the pop culture round of pub quizzes (alright, and the history round. And the geography round. Why was there never a dead cuttlefish round? I’d have smashed that) because I’d never seen Gremlins, the Goonies or Star Wars, the iconic films my mainland-brethren had grown up on.
Even the Star Wars prequels, churned out while I was STUDYING FILM at university, passed me by. My best mate was a Star Wars nut and went to the Guildford Odeon to watch The Phantom Menace with his face painted like Darth Maul, lightsaber in hand. Sometimes he’d say sentences back to front like Yoda, and while I’d had enough societal osmosis to know he was ‘doing Yoda’ I still never considered actually watching what was now a six film series. They’re films for boys and man-boys like my best friend, I concluded. Now leave me in peace while I study* Citizen Kane, damn you!
*study would be a strong, loaded word for my three year, £12,000 university stint.
My husband was similarly passionate, cluttering up our home with Star Wars memorabilia I neither understood nor liked. We battled over whether the postman would rather see a pretty little windowsill flowerpot, perhaps containing a sweet-smelling hyacinth in bloom, or a foreboding ‘toy’ with one arm outstretched ominously.
You can see where this is going. With the Force Awakens set to hit cinemas, Gaz insisted my initiation into the Star Wars world was long overdue and thus, we set about watching the films in this order: 456, 123.
Well hello Star Wars universe! So this is what a gazillion fans are banging on about. I loved the endless intergalactic possibilities and, holding the entire ensemble together (in my humble opinion) my absolute fave character, Artoo. That’s R2D2 to you.
I’d gone from not really understanding why two grown adults had to have a Darth Vader toy in the window, to begging my husband to get me an Artoo for Christmas. What a hero! (R2D2, but also my husband, for as you can see, he delivered.)
R2D2 saves the day repetitively and thanklessly, as the humans are soon on to their next mission without ever taking a moment to praise the little dude who just beeped and whizzed and oooooo cuddles!
I won’t waste your time surmising my thoughts on the disaster that was the prequels, for we are all in agreement. In short, what the shit happened there? But in salvage, I did think Episode 3 gave Anakin a satisfactorily dark transformation into Vader.
Gaz’s birthday fell just a few days after the premier and, as if he was seven years old all over again, his birthday had a Star Wars theme. He opened a smorgasbord of Star Wars related
tat presents, including but not limited to: a Star Wars mug, a Star Wars t-shirt, Star Wars chocolate and this Star Wars print (available here because I know you want it too):
I almost kissed him.
Fully up to speed on the space opera, I was by my husband’s excited side for his ultimate birthday treat, a cinematic showcase of the Force Awakens in glorious technicolour and 3D. A BB8 for the new generation (hands off R2, he’s mine) a Kylo Ren more complex and sinister than even Darth himself, and a husband so swept up in fandom (coupled with a massive crush on Rey and a minor crush on Ren) he actually went to the cinema TWICE.
I haven’t seen a film twice since I spent an entire summer watching Grease on repeat, while trying to fold my chin into a bum-chin like John Travolta’s. That’s what happens to children starved of popular culture. When they do finally get to see the films everyone else loves, they try and acquire a bum-chin.
Stopping just short of trying to turn myself into a droid, I am a newly converted megafan. Slow to arrive, I was. Here for life, I am.