Monday, 22 June 2009

Grumpy Old Rock Star - Althorp Part Three

Sunday 14th June was another gorgeous sunny day. It's the first time Nige has ever attended a literary festival event and what a brilliant introduction. Despite the chaos at the entrance to Althorp house (form an orderly queue unless you're sixty-plus and very posh), we managed to get a front row seat for Rick Wakeman courtesy of a young couple who got to the front of the queue and saved us a seat.

Nige was a big Yes fan in the 1970s, so was keen to see one of his rock heroes in the flesh. I must admit I was rather shocked when this scruffy bloke with a paunch took to the podium. However, I was relieved that he wasn't going to be interviewed or read from his book (I find the latter so boring!), but was going to stand there and regale us all with his wondrous stories.

I haven't laughed so much in ages. Rick Wakeman isn't grumpy at all. He's hilarious. His comic timing is impeccable. A professional musician of 40 years, Rick has plenty of funny stories to tell. If something bizarre is going to happen, it'll happen to him. He's smuggled a KGB uniform out of Iron Curtain Russia; worn Biggles-type goggles and WW1 flying helmet singing the Dambusters theme tune while coming into land on a Lufthansa flight to Munich and unwittingly shared the same plane as Alexander Litvinenko on a flight to Moscow and back.

You couldn't wish to meet a more likeable, witty and intelligent rock star! At the signing he joked around as I tried to get Nige's camera to work, then engaged Nige in a long conversation about playing in a band, and was genuinely interested in Nige's band, what sort of music they played and so on. They were rattling away like old buddies. Two grumpy old musicians who obviously share the same outlook on life and music. They look like best mates in the photograph! Definitely an affinity there.

Nige was buzzing afterwards and realised why I love literary festivals so much. Roll on next June!


Anonymous said...

Did he tell you the story about eating a curry on stage?

I'm still a Yes fan!

Jo said...

No, he didn't tell that one, but he did mention a dodgy curry he had before he got stopped by police and breathalysed. He had to commandeer a toilet in a nearby house and while he was on the throne, they were passing Yes albums through the open door (policeman had his foot in it) for him to sign! Sorry I still haven't commented on your piece on the Wannabe site. I'm having trouble accessing the right page since my PC went up the swanny, and my comments don't seem to appear. Must make time to sort it out.