My Modelling Life (an edited version of my 'welcome' message in 'The Airfix Tribute Forum') 

My first Airfix kit was given to me by my father at age 7, so it must have been 1958. It was some kind of USAF jet - probably the Douglas A4D-1 Skyhawk 1.72, but I do remember not knowing how to attach the transfers (decals), so I cut them out, backing paper and all, and stuck them on with polystyrene cement. Did I not understand the instructions? Perhaps I didn't read the instructions, or possibly there weren't any? In any case my father was uncharacteristically patient with me, and demonstrated the correct procedure on my next kit. 

I'd got the bug, and my pocket money for the next few years went mostly on Airfix kits, with an occasional Revell for variety. In my teens I discovered the wonderful world of balsa (did you know that balsa is classed as a hardwood?) and, at about the same time, a magazine called 'Model Cars'. This magazine was primarily devoted to slot car racing, but published a set of plans every month that enabled me to carve balsa bodies for a whole range of automobiles through the ages. In keeping with their slot car provenance I motorised these creations, and they mostly survived the rigours of 200+mph scale speeds - all except for my favourite, a painstakingly detailed Chevron GT that lost its front end when it came off at the first corner! 

In my later teens Rock music took over my life (bad news for my A level results) and, when I went to college in 1970, I discovered the other two members of the unholy trinity (as described by Ian Dury), and that left no room at all for model-building ... 

So the years went by, and when I wasn't playing very loud music in a rock band I managed the occasional foray into the world of models. The 1980s, with the advent of 'Dungeons and Dragons' into the bohemian set that I was part of, gave lots of opportunity for the construction of settings and the painting of the little lead figurines that populated them - but there were, as far as I remember, no plastic kits involved. 

In 2009 I took early retirement when the Hi-tech firm that I had worked at for 20 years made me an offer I couldn't refuse. At last I had time to play my instruments, do the garden, watch DVDs, research mythology and ancient history - all the things that working for a living got in the way of! Sheer bliss - I can recommend retiring as early as possible to everyone who isn't interested in wealth. 

Then a few months ago I was talking to Chiff, a saxophone player friend of mine who I had known for 37 years, and discovered that he too had been an avid 'slot-racer' in his youth. Amazing what you find out about people that you've known for so long, but later I started thinking - why had I been so interested in slot-racing when I am not at all competitive? This was a puzzler, until I realised that what had interested me was the modelling, not the racing. The typical slot-car of the '60s was a vac-formed blob, indifferently finished, with very thin 'bicycle' wheels at the front and fat orange sponge tyres at the back. My cars mostly looked like cars even if they didn't break any speed records. So, modelling was the thing, I got online immediately and ordered a Spitfire Mk Vc and the appropriate paints. 

My first kit for 35 years went fairly well - I made quite a few mistakes and learned that my hands were nowhere near as steady as they used to be, my eyesight had lost its sharpness, but I countered that with a lovely lamp/magnifying glass combination and the patience that had come with age. 

So in 2010 I have built quite a few kits, acquired a stash (that I thought was getting out of control until I saw what some people had), spent quite a large percentage of my disposable income on an airbrush that I'm still learning how to use, and I'm now wondering where on earth I'm going to put all the models, let alone the diorama that I've set my heart on... Airfix, I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next! 

Click here for photographs of my models

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