Sunday, 18 December 2011

THE PASSION AND THE PIFFLE (a blog for the moment) DEC 2011

I thought I might try to write a SENSIBLE blog for once. Then I thought, “fuck it”. So here comes the usual wonky mixture of passion and piffle. If you want sensible, go to my mate, Sunday Express editor Martin Townsend’s weekly column (that he COMMISSIONED HIMSELF to write). It’s usually about the cost of school shoes and the state of youth nowadays. You’ll love it. He does. I wonder if he pays himself for it. If so, however much he gets it’s too much. Far better to hire someone like me to write an irreverent 2,000 words on everything from Chris Hitchens’ views about God to my personal recipe for a miniature fry-up starter to excite your dinner guests. His loss.

So let’s start with Chris Hitchens, who died a couple of days ago. Our loss. He can’t have been the first to point out (as I have many times) that God and Afterlife aren’t joined at the hip. I rarely pray (turbulence in planes sometimes sets me off,) – and I’m not so much an atheist as a “how-the-hell -should-I-know-ist”. There is no instruction manual. Not an official one, you’ve just got all these books written by prophets and stuff. In fact, my own personal religion is available now online. It’s usually free but we’ve gone one better than that this Christmas and halved the price. . Seriously, Chris and I had/have (what with him being dead and all) a point. IF there is a god, why does that mean there’s an afterlife? What optimist connected those two ideas? What if God, when she created us, gave us one life only. If you fall off a cliff aged two before you get converted to Catholicism, at least you don’t go to hell. What if there is a god but he’s an evil git? Loves watching road crashes and earthquakes, in fact rewinds them and watches them slowly. Records them to watch later. (Otherwise why does Sky TV exist, answer me THAT).

What if there’s an afterlife – purely naturally, - and no god? Perfectly feasible. We crawled out of the sea, grew legs, - unless you don’t believe in Darwin and think Adam actually did nick an apple – because a SNAKE told him to – as if (!!!!) and condemned us all to a life of punishment (see above) and then, when our souls matured enough, that is to say not when we were Newts, some time after that – we got the key of the door and there IS an afterlife, but obviously not for newts, just us. Yay! Keep out the riff raff.

Ok so for the fry-up recipe for eight guests you just need 16 quails eggs, a few small Hovis miniature loaves, those mini-schmini ones, eight cherry tomatoes and some very streaky bacon. You’ll need to cut the quails’ eggs open with nail scissors beforehand because the little membrane inside is too thick to allow the clean cracking of the egg – and each egg needs to be stored on a soup spoon, a line of which should be ready near the frying area. (This is TRUE). The reason for this is that when your guests are sitting down, you can’t waste about half an hour opening 16 quails’ eggs, they’ll be going home in that taxi afterwards holding up a big number two. Should I re-phrase that? No. Plough on.

Cut the streaky bacon into mini-sminchy little rashers.

Slice the micro hovis loaves into thin, toastable slices (and don’t forget when it comes time to toast them, do NOT put them in the toaster, you IDIOT) – put them under the grill. Cut the tomatoes into two.

When the guests arrive, tell them a joke, show then your knob, if you’re a bloke, or whatever you do to greet them, put on some Christmas music, tell the chef you’ve hired to cook the main course (because I haven’t given you the recipe for that and you may not have the ability to think ahead all by yourselves and cook three courses) – that you are about to serve the starter. While he or she is liquidising the live snails for the main course, get ripping with your mini fry-up starter.

Use at least two frying pans – so you can control the heat of each item separately. A bit of olive oil. The two halves of cherry tomato per person go into one pan, the toast AND THE BACON go under the grill, and voila! The eggs go one at a time, slipping happily off their soup spoons into the fat AS CONTEMPORANEOUSLY as possible.

Serve two bits of micro-toast per person, one with 2 fried quails’ eggs and one with two halves of fried tomato, the bacon on the side. When you get up to grade eight I’ll show you how to make miniature baked beans using red lentils and the sauce from real baked beans. That’s cheating but I don’t care because I’m not religious. We non-religious people have no morals and are completely devoid of feeling for fair play or the comfort and well-being of our fellow man. Or maybe I AM religious, I just don’t know.

So another year ends. I’ve Wombled at Glastontury in 82 degrees in a Womble Suit but don’t tell the kids. They get very very angry if they think there might be people in the costumes and it could completely fuck their Christmas up, if not their lives. I survived that without doing a “Tommy CoopER” on stage. In fact it was exhausting but tested my endurance and increased my pelvic floor strength.

We’ve made a new album with the “at-the-top-of-her-game” Katie Melua, and I’m dying for you to hear it. It’s got lots of songs and stuff on it. She’s in a happier place than ever. The album is called “SECRET SYMPHONY”. It’s available to pre-order on Amazon and iTunes etc already (*plug!*) – coming out in first week of March.

We’ve “broken” the fabulous Caro Emerald in this country, (Google her) taking her Platinum last week – or maybe she took US platinum. Either way, we like Platinum. Congrats to my fabulous cottage-industry team of about a dozen at Dramatico records, led by my passionate and impeccable Managing Director, Andrew Bowles, and in Germany (Dramatico GmbH) by our smart and arty MD, Sven Meyer. We say a sad goodbye to our New York office, with great thanks to our US company boss Josh Zieman, who is moving to pastures new, - and team. Re-structuring and re-positioning is taking place there, and our new Dramatico USA incarnation will pop right back up again in 2012.

We’ve started animating the new, CGI Wombles series. Really good fun. Animation was what I would have done if I hadn’t become a musician, so I’m hoping to become the next Walt Disney before I die. Afterwards would be too late.

This isn’t supposed to be a review of the year, but as probably my last blog of the year, inevitably is a bit like that. I wish you everything you would wish – and I hope you all have lovely Christmases. In fact the same Christmas, but lovely in plural when viewed from your own individual and, in a sense, collective points of perception.

Maybe I am religious after all. Bloody Hell.



PS: Apologies to those who have seen the recipe before

Friday, 16 December 2011


Hi Kids,

There has been some talk that the Wombles “aren’t real” because of the apparent removal of a “Womble costume head” at the end of their appearance on the Simon Mayo Show on Radio 2. Some parents have claimed the removal of a Womble “head” has “ruined Christmas” for their child, - as if! Everybody knows a Womble can’t take his head off.

I would like to explain what happened, because, I can assure the Wombles are VERY REAL INDEED and did a splendid job on the show. Before their first song, Wombling Merry Christmas, and just after it, Simon interviewed Orinoco, - but after the song Orinoco sounded completely puffed out and many people suggested to me – as their manager – that the show should be stopped and Orinoco given medical treatment. However, it was too late for the show to be stopped when Orinoco launched straight into “Underground Overground” and we management-team-humans were very worried that he might hurt himself or have a heart problem.

Luckily, I carry a fancy dress Womble costume with me to all Womble appearances, so if the real Orinoco is too puffed out (because he is the fat one, and hardly does any exercise) I can run in, like a substitute in a football match) and take over, - which is what I did. We managed to get the real Orinoco off, during a cut in the camera coverage, and he was given oxygen and some nettle tea.

I jumped on stage and took over, just for the goodbye bit. When Simon cued an Amy Winehouse record I asked if we were clear and was told that we were – whereupon I took my “head” off. Little did I know that one camera was still “live to air”. It wasn’t anybody’s fault, just a misunderstanding Anyone watching would have seen that THE OTHER WOMBLES DID NOT TAKE THEIR HEADS OFF. Why? Because they are real. I was the one who did it, because I was taking Orinoco’s place in a fancy dress costume made to look like a Womble. Everybody knows a Womble can’t take his head off. Bungo, Wellington, Great Uncle Bulgaria and Madame Cholet didn’t, did they!? They all just walked sensibly to their dressing room, and Orinoco soon recovered and joined them. I packed away my “emergency costume” and put it in the medical kit we carry with us.

So, kids, that’s how your Mum and Dad might have thought the Wombles weren’t real. Tell them you know the truth, It was their manager, Mike, saving poor Orinoco from falling over because of the heat in the studio!

Meanwhile, everybody at Radio 2 and Wombles - @Womble_HQ (on twitter) are the best of friends and have happy memories of their Wombling afternoon!

Merry Christmas from

Mike Batt
(Friend and manager to the Wombles)

(Those interested in the appearance can check it on It was a lovely, funny interlude enjoyed by all the Wombles and Simon and his team)