Your Star Wars memories: Phil Olson

Even little sisters can’t ruin the magic of The Empire Strikes Back

The first in our incredible series of Star Wars memories, written by you as a testament to the incredible power of the saga to transcend age, genre and cynicism. If this inspires you to submit your own, check out the details here!

“Luke Skywalker and Han Solo rescued the Princess, destroyed the Death Star but their story didn’t end there!”

My mother had to hold me down in my seat to stop me from running around screaming like Macaulay Culkin  – I hadn’t seen the original Star Wars at that point, only had a solitary R2D2 action figure and had no idea who Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru were, but the mania I was subjected to at school had me in an uncontrollable Star Wars frenzy!  Pre-internet, this viewing of the trailer for The Empire Strikes Back was the first time I’d seen the Star Wars universe on the big screen.

A few weeks later, on a Saturday afternoon, I literally dragged my family from the car park to the entrance of the ABC Cinema in Newport.  This sight of a 7 year old shaking with excitement must have been replicated around the world.  Stacked up with popcorn, Revels and pop, I braced myself for the most anticipated moment of my life so far as the lights dimmed.

And that’s where the near-destruction of a dream began.

My sister, aged 4, had a fascination with public toilets.  Don’t ask me where that came from, she just did.  The public lavatories in the ABC Cinema had carpets.  So, when faced with a choice of the most anticipated movie of my 7 year old life versus carpeted toilets – the toilets won every time.

Initially it didn’t bother me so much, she only asked for “Toilet!” three times during the adverts and ‘coming attractions’, but then the film started.

The whole film was punctuated with requests for the toilet.

The first time I saw Darth Vader on the big screen – “Toilet!”

Luke crashes his snow speeder  – “Toilet!”

Luke meets Yoda  – “Toilet!”

Lando stabs Han in the back (I never forgave the bastard) – “Toilet!”

“Luke, I am your…”… you guessed it, “Toilet!”!

Now, at 7 years old I was more into the explosions, gun battles, funny looking aliens and R2D2 than following the plot. However, what made the constant calls for “Toilet!” even worse, was that my dear sister, completely oblivious to the life changing event unfolding in front of me, would squeeze past me to get to this magical, carpeted Utopia.  I had only recently graduated from sitting on the seat folded up, to sitting like a “big boy” with the seat folded down (this was pre cinema booster seats). I must have missed seeing a good third of the film.

The end credits rolled, and with a final “toilet” we left the cinema.  I spent the journey home jabbering excitedly about what I’d seen, denial forcing its way into my head that I’d actually missed anything important (it was only when I watched Empire for a second time that I saw how Luke had escaped the Wampa on Hoth).  More importantly, I was able to go to school and say “I’ve seen Empire Strikes Back!”

Empire laid the ground for a lifelong devotion to sci-fi and will always hold a special place in my heart.  I’ve never managed to recapture that original excitement, whether it’s nostalgia or the bitter taste of the re-releases, that first viewing (whilst marred by “Toilet”) will stay with me forever.

As a footnote, three years later I took my sister, now 7, to see Return Of The Jedi.  She’d had beaten her addiction to toilets, replacing it with Care Bears, so I innocently thought we were in for a quiet ride.

Ewoks.  F8$%£g Ewoks.  Every single time an Ewok appeared on screen, my sister would screech “Awwww!”.  Every single time, and believe me – they’re in that film a lot!!

I hate Ewoks.