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Star Wars Experience Ė About Old Friends and Happy Memories
by Embra and Joris DeSmet

One Day in 2004
Not much, really Ö

When I was a kid, back in the mists of time, I had a huge collection of the original Star Wars figures, vehicles and other precious tat. My bedroom walls were festooned with pictures, posters, cuttings and drawings. My bed was never without its Star Wars blanket, which had to be washed and back on the bed the same day. A Star Wars figure (usually Artoo) would go to the cinema with me so it could report back to the others and show them the film while I slept.

You all know the deal though, yeah - I grew up and moved on, the collection being left with others, or passed on by a well-meaning parent to ungrateful others. Well, not quite. I passed on the whole lot to a friend whose collection rivalled mine. The satisfaction of seeing a truly mammoth collection all together in the same place will never leave me.

Now, years on, I still have something of a collection. It is smaller, more compact, but no less precious. Iíve been hugely fortunate to work, however tangentially, in the galaxy far, far away. My collection tends to relate to work ... books, cards, more books, magazines, and some books on top of them ... but there is one item that is truly special to me.

I used to be involved with a few conventions here and there, usually in guest procurement and in looking after them once they got there. I know a lot of people feverishly collect autographs, having seen the queues first hand, and it never really appealed to me. Iíve seen fans at events with books, scripts, toys and even model kits signed by dozens and dozens of the cast and crew. Those items are precious to those people, and I admire their dedication. Itís just not for me.

It may seem odd, then, that my favourite collection piece is a signed Star Wars poster Ö the long, tall one advertising the UK release back in 1995 of the THX digital re-master of the original trilogy.

Compared to the great slew of signatures obtained by others, my own collection of 16 siggies may seem a little tame. However, each one is special as each one (with one exception) comes from a guest with whom I have had the enormous pleasure of having worked an event. Occasionally Iíve even worked with them beyond the convention hall.

The list of names runs thus: Don Henderson, Cam Kennedy, Kenny Baker, Jeremy Bulloch, Dave Prowse (the exception, as Iíve never had the pleasure of working directly with him), Richard Le Parmentier, Paul Blake, Peter Diamond, Angus MacInnes, Warwick Davis, Michael Sheard, Mike Edmonds, Garrick Hagon, Peter Mayhew, and brother and sister team Benedict and Femi Taylor.

Don Henderson and dear Peter Diamond are, of course, no longer with us. I can look at the poster, with melancholy smile, and remember clearly the days their names were writ there. I interviewed them both, and worked with Peter on a couple of projects thereafter ... what an honour.

I see Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker and a few other names, and remember a fantastic UK Gen Con line-up, listening to Kennyís innumerable shaggy-dog stories and admiring his fantastic cars.

I remember Femi Taylorís initial convention nerves. She had nothing to worry about - isnít she just a fantastic guest?!

I remember Angus and Michael arguing good-naturedly over whether Angus shot Michael after Michael shot Angus in ĎForce 10 from Navaroneí, or whether Harrison Ford got in there first.

I remember Warwick learning the Harry Potter CCG and laying the slap down on all-comers not long after.

I could go on, and I do in my head when Iím sitting here at my desk wondering what to do next. Iíve been very fortunate, of that I have no doubt. My little autograph collection reminds me of that, and of some really great times.

Hereís to old friends and happy memories.

~ Embra

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