Mr Richards just suddenly appeared one day, looking pale. He greeted the receptionist, and walked towards his office.
He wasn't wearing his regular suit. He was wearing a pale blue polo with a turned-up collar over beige chinos and the kind of boat shoes that don't go on boats. He looked like he was on his way to lunch in Brighton. Perhaps he was. He was carrying a takeaway coffee.
But it wasn't coffee.
'This stuff actually tastes quite good,' he said, when I had followed him into his office and he had put it down on his desk. 'In a herby, grassy kind of way, and after you haven't had coffee for a week or two,' he added. 'You forget what coffee was like.'
'Who are you trying to fool?' I asked him. 'Me? Or yourself? These things go in trends. People used to drink a thing called Caro. It was made of mud or something. Before that was chicory. Now everyone is drinking chai, which is essentially liquid curry with tea in it. It will pass. It tastes like shit.'
'Thanks for the encouragement,' he said, bitingly sarcastic, 'I can see it's going to be an uphill battle getting you to do what I'm about to ask you.'
'Which is what?' I asked.
He paused. 'I've turned vegetarian,' he said, as if announcing his aunt was a terrorist.
I gulped. There goes another one, I thought. But I didn't say that.
'Nothing wrong with that,' I said. 'Nothing at all. History is full of vegetarian MDs.'
'And dead ones who didn't change their ways.'
That floored me.
'OK,' I said. 'Point taken.'
'I want to get a vegetable account,' he said. 'And you're going to help me.'
I just stared at him.
I went back to my office and started jotting down some ideas.
Cabbage. Just Eat It.
It was a bit of a joke. Hijacking all the old lines for a new purpose.
The Cauliflower Generation.
Are they copyright?
Spinach. Engineered like no other vegetable.
No-one would even recognise them any more, surely.
Radishes are forever.
That was good. The diamond people would have no reason to bring action. It would hardly infringe on their market.
Carrots. The other root vegetable.
We could do a joint advertising campaign with the meat and livestock authority.
Have you been parsnipped lately?
Hang on a minute. There's actually something in this, using send-ups of old ad lines to promote generic vegetables.
Get me the Vegetable Marketing Board on the line.