Jack's blog

Teenager Jack has engineers for parents. And twin geek sisters. As the only member of the family who doesn't live for technology, he tries hard to fit in...

It was like the Spanish inquisition but with less stretchy parts. Mum went on and on at me to get my mobile fixed because every time she called me she got no dial tone. I finally confessed it had been pinched on the bus home from the shops last Saturday.

The tweeks were surprisingly supportive and immediately started planning how to hack into some online tracing service and track it down. "The only problem will be activating the phone itself," they mutter, making notes on the back of their physics course book.

"Don't bother," says Dad. "It's upgrade time! You did back up the Sim card, didn't you?"


"Honestly, you civilians, you don't know the first thing about data protection." Dad calls all us non-technologists civilians, because he's engaged in the War on Error and we're just collateral damage to him.

"Who was it, anyway?" asks Mum. "Were they big? Did they hurt you? Did you fight back?"

"Err, dunno, no, no and, err, no..." I say, feeling I'm not living through my finest hour.

"They were quite small, like little rugrats, really, and one of them swiped it and the others blocked my way and then they all jumped off at the stop laughing. It was quite a slick operation, actually."

The tweeks couldn't hold it in any longer. "Robbed by Year Sevens! Our big brother!" And they start shrieking with cruel 14-year-old Girl Laughter.

"And do you know the worst thing?" I say, hoping for a bit of sympathy. "One of the little sods was wearing a 'Star Wars' t-shirt. Don't they know about the code of the Jedi?"

I bow my head in reverend-like silence.

"Oh yes, I can see the Force was with them," says Mum, in a voice that made me realise I wasn't getting a replacement any time soon.

"Uh, no mocking the Force, please," says Dad. "It binds the galaxy together."

We all stare at him.

"What?" he says. "You think I don't know about the unifying Force that animates and explains our lives?"

"You're not talking about... God, are you?" asks Amy, who was permanently traumatised by Dad's explaining that if God did indeed have the whole world in his hands, as she had been singing, his fingers would be about 10,000km long and would contain enough blood to fill the North Sea. Which meant she took a vow at the age of seven never to travel by boat again.

"No! The Force! You don't think us technologists aren't on a permanent quest for it? Or for something that looks awfully like it, even if we can't measure it or even work out if it's really there?"

"I think you've been staying up too late reading up on the Large Hadron Collider." says Mum, edging towards the kettle. "Nice cup of tea?"

"Of course, the Force is probably a lot easier to explain than light sabres," says Dad. "Just milk, please.

"I mean, they carry their own power source, they never need recharging - you never see them run out in a battle scene, do you? And they can cut through anything - that's a lot of energy stored in one handheld device, and you know it's not going to weigh much more than one Wii remote. Or two, at a pinch."

"Well, it's a laser, isn't it?" I venture.

"No! Name me the laser frequency or wavelength that allows you to extend the beam to a predetermined length and gives you lateral radiation in rather unorthodox colours?"

"Well, how about bending the laser," I say. "What about a core you wrapped the laser around..."

"Nice thinking! You could maybe do it with plasma and an electromagnetic field, although your hand would get melted off as soon as you turned it on. And it still doesn't explain how you could knock a storm trooper's blaster bolt off course."

"Yeah," I say, "and it's not like the blaster bolt ever knocks the light sabre out of your hand anyway - what's going on there?"

"And, of course, it's all pretty pointless because why would you need a light sabre - primitive, hand-to-hand combat technology - when you've got the Force?"

"Yeah, and then why do you need a Death Star? Or death stars the size of planets? Just get a whole load of Sith together and mind-beam the rebels out of existence."

"Right! Of course you could argue it's more of a geopolitical statement than an actual weapon - I've never been convinced by that superlaser dish thing on the front..."

"And how come they built it so quickly? I mean, it's like the size of a moon and they build half of it in six months in 'Return of the Jedi'..."

"And remember, when it blows up those Ewoks are going to have to climb some pretty tall trees because they're going to be wet little teddy bears when the gravitational pull is switched off. Plus most of the Death Star bits are going to fall on them, not to mention the nuclear winter heading their way...."

We pause and gaze at each other in mutual admiration united across the generations by the Force and a common disbelief in the mechanics of the 'Star Wars' universe.

"For an old guy, you know a lot about 'Star Wars'," I say.

"Old guy my ****! 'Star Wars' is mine, you little thief. Why do the young always think they own everything?"

"Yeah, but Dad, about trashing all that technology stuff... I mean, it could happen, couldn't it? You could have light sabres, yeah?"

He looks at me, technologist at mere mortal. Will he dash my hopes?

"Nah," he says. "It's all rubbish. But let's put 'A New Hope' on the DVD player anyway."


Jack's blog was translated by Jane Maltby

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