At around that time, Mike gave me a 1/5th scale Sunbeam Talbot 90 that had been produced for Rootes group for the Duke of Gloucester when he were a lad. The tool room foreman saw it and decided he could do better, so he did and the first model was quietly disappeared to a manager's child, whilst the Royal laddie got the better one. The model found its way to Chuffs in Portobello Road where it was swapped for a Green Chesterfield and a box of Hornby tinplate.
It was by then lacking a bonnet, boot, one wheel and tyre and its petrol engine. My brief was to replace all, but the engine and give it back in Talbot metallic finish. "No rush", said Mike.
27 years later I phoned an understandably shocked Mike Richardson and told him the Talbot 90 was finished.
So delighted was he that he came to pick it up from me in Norfolk all the way from Eton Wick and, unknown to me, left Chris with the Roadster master, the only one they kept of a range of about 50 they had sold, with instructions to give it to me on my birthday as a thankyou for finishing the Talbot 90 and only charging what I had quoted 27 years before. Alas, such gentlemen are rare in the model industry these days.
I had, to my shame, forgotten where I'd put the master, until yesterday, when, needing some documents from a small potable safe I inherited from my Mum, Chris tapped in the numbers and nothing....We'd overlooked the fact that if it beeped, it needed batteries. They'd run out. No keys came with it, so we had to pay a locksmith to come and break in to it, which he did in seconds. Ch-ching, £35 please guv. Nice young ex Bomb Disposal chap with an artificial leg and a ticket out of Afghanistan. But he'd trained as a locksmith and started a flourishing little business and came 7 miles to help out at 6-30. He'll do well, methinks and rightly so.
The door swung open and in one of my old Guild Master Models kit boxes was the Roadster master.
The light was fading so the pictures aren't much good, but this is what one of the first ever brass masters looks like. I still think it's not bad, but I did get better, honest. And yes, John Nettles has one of the models painted as Bergerac's maroon Jersey cop car.