A large family reunion was taking place in a restaurant. All my uncles, aunts, cousins and so on were gathered around a long table and the evening had progressed to the point at which seating arrangements had become ragged and disorderly as people holding post-prandial brandies pulled their chairs over to people they'd neglected earlier and would much rather have been sitting beside throughout the meal.
I had become a little detached from the main flow of the event and was talking to my five-year-old nephew off to the side of the room. He wasn't saying anything; instead, he was striking a series of odd poses that seemed to mean something to him, as he would repeat some of them. A sort of semaphore that he'd been taught in nursery or something? Some pre-school kids get taught sign language, so you never know.
Then I realised what he was doing. On the back of the packaging that Star Wars figures came in when I was a kid (a card with a plastic bubble containing the figure glued to the front), there was a picture showing all of the available figures. The earlier the card, the fewer the figures lined up in the photograph on the back. The earliest packaging, however, had photographs of the characters from the film in characteristic stances rather than the figures themselves -- that was where my nephew's poses were from. As soon as I noticed that, it was easy to see which pose came from which character. He was pretty good at it. Odd, though, that a boy who was born 25 years after that packaging was in shops should know it so well.
Notes for Freudian Interpretation
This is the sort of packaging I had in mind. Google came up with pages and pages of pictures loaded with unexpected Proustian potency. I even recognise the faces of the little kids shown playing with the toys on the boxes! I've just wasted about an hour in sentimental reverie; I really must get on with this post.
Yesterday, I was looking at some of the pictures of the most recent family reunion, which took place in a restaurant in Edinburgh. I've fewer pictures of the event than I might otherwise have because, in an effort to keep my nephew entertained, I gave him my camera and told him to go around taking photographs. Predictably, I ended up with a lot of dark, blurry shots with ribbons of lights streaming across them. Pretty, in a way, but not remarkably helpful.
The other day, my dad reminded me that my nephew is five, not four, as I'd just said. I explained that I'd got his age wrong because I knew he was about to go to school after the summer and I always assume that kids who are about to go to school are four, as that was how old I was when I started primary. But no, he'll be five when he starts -- another of the millions of ways in which we're not at all the same. Perhaps my being forced to acknowledge another dissimilarity between us caused me a small moment of anxiety, which brought about a dream in which family bonds are strengthened by my realisation that he has the sort of knowledge of Star Wars packaging that I had when I was about his age.
Could be, but I don't have the time to spend analysing anything right now: if you'll excuse me, the Google image search awaits.