Like millions of people, I am a fan of the Star Wars films. I'm not so obsessed that I have every novel, unopened original comics from the 70s, nor do I know every little fact from the length of Sy Snootles snout to the average airspeed velocity of an unladened landspeeder. But the films are crafts of timeless storytelling and action complete with some of the best movie space battle and visual imagery still available on the telly. Though I guess I did buy all the Hasbro lightsabres I could get my hands on. Back on the subject, since I first saw the films, I thought Vader was the fictional world's most excellent bad guy.
My youngest brother, a ten year old little tinker, is profoundly autistic. In May 2000 he would have been about four years old, but we'd had the unquestionable diagnosis by the time he was two. People with profound autism have very limited imagination, social interaction and communication. There is a lot to this story, but let's just say that my parents were left with little more than a label. Traditionally, dealing with an autistic child meant strict routine and inevitable institutionalising.
In short time, they somehow came across a method of reaching out to an autistic individual, a way to encourage the desire to communicate and interact with his/her friends and family. The methods were developed as part of an American programme called Son-Rise. In essence, you the carer approach interaction with the child with positive and loving energy, seeking to enjoy the things the child enjoys. I imagine this method has its critics, but I personally witnessed a massive change in Asa as a result of their efforts. However, we needed money to build a decent play-room where Asa and his playmates could go, fully observable. Plus, they needed money to employ these playmates.
A number of fund-raising efforts were made by many excellent people and I wanted to do my part. I set about organising what would become my first taste of the Dark Side - "The Unofficial Star Wars Science-Fiction Fancy Dress Disco", or TUSSFFDD for short... yes, anyway, that event took place on May 5th, with the tagline "May the Fifth be with you!" I sent out invites to every human being I was remotely associated with, making it clear that this was a fund-raising effort for the Asa Ainge Autistic Appeal. Each attendee came in some sci-fi costume of their choice and dished out £6.00 to turn up. Due to the Star Wars nature of the event, I brought along all my £10 Hasbro lightsabres and set up a Battle Arena event-within-the-event. That is, anyone pays a quid and gets to battle the Sith Lord or Jedi of their choice. We had Obi-Wan, a dual-sabre wielding Jedi, Darth Maul, and Darth Vader.
Yep - that was me.
I suppose this has always been about charity.
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