OPINION: Messed up by my Tutu lecture

Peter Stanford, a writer and broadcaster. He chaired the trustees of the national disability charity Aspire and now sits on various trustee boards

I've had a sleepless weekend. Or, to be more accurate, just when I would drop off at around 5.30am, the kids would wake up and come into our bed for what they laughingly call "a bit of extra sleep" - for which read wriggling, giggling, shuffling, talking. In short, anything but sleep.

What has been spinning my mind round like Robin Cousins on acid is the charity lecture I am organising this week. To make it accessible, the trustees insisted the tickets be free. So we had assumed that, without a financial commitment, a fair percentage of ticket holders won't show.

That has been our past experience. And so we have handed out a few more tickets than there are seats.

We made our assumptions, unfortunately, without taking into account our speaker Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Nobel Prize winner is simply such a phenomenon that everyone with a ticket appears determined to use it, and many who don't insist they are coming along more in hope than expectation.

All of which leaves me with images of a stampede, chaos, and many fingers of blame all pointing at me as the hall collapses under the collective weight of this outsized crowd. Each night (by about 4.30am) I keep coming back to the same old question - why do I put myself through this? True, I'm paid a tiny consultancy fee and do it out of love for the man in memory of whom the lecture was set up. Next year, I keep thinking, no more.

But then there's the buzz. It contrasts with most of my work that pays the bills in that it is great fun, and somehow doesn't hold out any prospect of changing the world. And there's something else that is hard to define but (in case you think I'm blowing my own trumpet - would that I had the energy!), which you find in the very many who give their time to third sector organisations. The world, I've come to believe after years of touching friends for favours for charities, divides into those who can say no and those who can't.

Wish me luck. If I'm not here next week, you'll know I've been lynched - or hospitalised.

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