It was the winter of 1997 and I was in London for the Watford show. Or to be honest: My life was a bit of a mess, and I was trying to escape from some difficult decisions that had to be made.
I had arrived a day early and was staying in a cheap and gloomy hotel not far from Paddington. The idea was to spend the day touring the model shops around London, but things were not going well: The weather was cold and windy, the shops were uninspiring and I couldnâ€™t escape my own thoughts.
So I caught a train down to Eastbourne. The warm carriage and gentle rocking of the train lifted my spirits a little. In Eastbourne I stood on the empty pier for a long time and tried to clear my head.
Then I walked over to the Train Times model shop to see what was on offer. I saw her almost immediately, and I knew I had to have her.
Sitting on a shelf was a 633 class loco, slightly scarred by life and hardly glamorous. Yet beautiful in her own way and longing to be loved.
I bought her and walked out into the streets of Eastbourne, feeling a little lighter. On the train back to the chaos of London, I finally made those difficult decisions.
So that was the story of the day I bought No. 643. I'm telling it here because I've just sold the loco, and I thought she deserved a proper goodbye. She'll be going off to another man now, but that's how it had to be. Here's looking at you, kid ;-)