Rick Wakeman's Caped Crusades: When Charity Beings At Home...

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NOW I LIKE to think of myself as a reasonable caring man, and like many in the music business, have charities and fundraising events which I support. But, in recent years the number of requests has exploded with expectations bordering on astounding.

Here are two fictitious examples, but based on true instances.

Request One: “We’d like you to open our fête at 2pm.”

No problem. I love village fêtes. I’ve planned to spend half an hour there, and then go off to fulfil the other appointments for the day.

I arrive and am met by ‘Mrs Dick’, the head of the organising committee. “Thank you so much for coming, Mr Wakeman. The children are thrilled.” > That’s a lie. Only three of them have the vaguest idea who I am, and that’s because Granny has told them that there’s a fat bloke coming who she likes on Countdown.

Then I’m handed a schedule .

“You’re judging the fancy dress under-eight’s at 2.45pm, the rudest vegetable at 3.15pm, ‘Guess the weight of the cake’ at 4pm and you’re taking part in the egg and spoon race for Senior Citizens at 5pm.”

I politely explain I have to go at 2.30pm. Mrs Dick is crestfallen.

“If you’d asked me beforehand…,” I mumble . I open the fête and vanish. Now hated by all and sundry.

Request Two: “Could you perform at our fundraising dinner in Newcastle. Bring your keyboards.” I telephone the organiser.

“Could you tell me your budget, please, for my crew to get my equipment to you, and the hotel information?”

Organiser: “Errr, there is no budget for you. We’re a charity.”

“So you want me to pay for a crew, truck hire, diesel and hotels?”

Organiser: “We are a charity.”

“Is the hotel giving its banqueting suite free of charge? Is the hotel giving meals for nothing? Are the PA and lighting free?”

Organiser: “Of course not. We have to pay for all that.”

I would like to write more, but I’m just off to play on someone’s album for nothing.

(Am I f###).