The previous summer my dad had taken me to a Test Match at Lord’s, England v Australia. While we were there seeing Bob Massie take 16 wickets, Dad saw Jim Laker coming out of the Radio 4 booth and got me his autograph on a scorecard. At 8, I didn’t really know who this old guy was (Laker was 50!) – but my father was excited and it made me think about autographs. I was duly given a red autograph book for my birthday or Christmas – and waited for someone halfway famous.
For some reason I had the book with me the following year – still unautographed – when I visited the Wrathall grandparents where they lived in Ledborough Lane, Beaconsfield. We went to Bekonscot, the model village on the next street, and there, in front of us, was none other than Doug McClure! He was my favourite tv star at the time on the strength of The Virginian, in which he played Trampas. I got his autograph. Number 1!
Even aged 9 I thought it curious that Doug McClure should be at Bekonscot – alone, if I remember right. Later I worked it out. The Land That Time Forgot was shooting at Shepperton around that time and I imagine its leading actor had ventured out on a grey day to see the sights. He took a day off from model dinosaurs to see some model villagers.
That was the last autograph I ever got.