Rick Wakeman's Caped Crusade: Toodle-loo!

An illustration of Rick Wakeman

“Is this the toilet?” I asked, as the theatre manager led me to a room backstage.

“No, it’s your dressing room,” he replied. “The toilet is two floors up, currently blocked and won’t flush. I don’t think there’s any toilet paper in there, but most bands use the sink anyway.”

“But there are 14 of us, including crew,” I countered. “By my reckoning, we’ll have needed at least 30 number ones and around a dozen number twos between us before the evening is over. Number ones are possible in the sink, but number twos may prove tricky unless you can supply a potato masher…”

“We get this problem a lot,” the theatre manager muttered, as he wandered off down the corridor.

While my band were enjoying a pre-gig curry down the road, I took a deep breath and ventured into the dressing room. There were two mirrors with 36 lights, but only six of them were working, and there were three chairs with only nine legs between them. In the corner, was a non-working fridge, and on the table lay four tea bags, a small jug of warm milk, four cardboard cups and a sort of Thermos thing with lukewarm water in it. There were also two bottles of water and a single plastic cup.

After a short while, the theatre manager returned and asked, “Have you got everything you need?”

I answered as politely as I could. “Well, milk that isn’t off and some boiling water, or a kettle would be a promising start…”

“I’ll ask,” he said, “but it wasn’t on your rider.”

“Sorry,” I replied, “I must have written: rancid milk, warm water and cardboard cups in error.”

I was still waiting when my band turned up, fresh from the curry house. My guitarist, Dave Colquhoun popped his head round the door and uttered the words I was dreading to hear: “Where’s the loo? Tony’s had a vindaloo and is desperate!”

“We have a problem,” I replied nervously, and explained the situation. But I needn’t have worried because, as is often the case, my wonderful crew came to the rescue.

“We’ve put an ‘Out Of Order’ sign on one of the two public loos in the theatre so that will be for us guys,” they said. “We’ve already informed Tony, who we think made it just in time… We’ve also organised tea and coffee from the petrol station next door, some sandwiches and more water for everybody.”

Believe it or not, this really happened a few years ago and after that, I decided to take charge of my own catering. It’s worked a treat.

I suppose the next thing would be to bring our own portable loos, but that wouldn’t be cost-effective or hygienic while Tony is still our drummer!