HOW I BROKE INTO COLONEL GADDAFI'S YACHT

An excerpt from my forthcoming autobiography…

HOW I BROKE INTO COL GADDAFI'S YACHT

While I was living in Hilversum in 1980 it happened that the Eurovision Song Contest was being held in Holland that year, - and I thought it would be fun to drive down to the Hague to be there. At the same time, I could take advantage of the fact that a potential skipper for the Braemar trip was in Holland, (his name was Ian, I can’t remember his surname) and the ship of which he was then Captain was docked at the Van Lendt shipyard on a stretch of canal, en route to the Hague from Hilversum. It was owned by the infamous Libyan dictator Colonel Muammer Gaddafi, and had fairly recently been used for a summit meeting of dangerous African leaders including Idi Amin.

When I arrived for my appointment, the entire yard was seemingly deserted. I presumed there would at least be someone aboard the vessel so I did what one does when approaching , and shouted the name of the yacht up the gangplank. No response. I stepped up the gangplank, and from the top of it, again called the name. There was a noise of a generator coming from the open door to the engine room. Taking off my shoes, I followed the noise, expecting to find an engineer or someone. Nobody. I ventured along the side deck and called again. Nothing. I entered another door and went down below, to find that I was in a magnificent stateroom with light beige suede wallpaper, luxurious fittings and what looked like an automatic weapon ,mounted on the bulkhead. I realised to my horror that I was in Gaddafi’s personal quarters! I legged it back up to the main deck pretty sharpish. Calling again , I seemed to find my way into the rear saloon, upper deck, where the French windows were open. I entered, closing the doors behind me. I couldn’t believe the yacht would be left like that, and I guess I must have been looking for a deckhand, or the skipper himself. Suddenly realising that I had, in a way broken into Gadaffi’s yacht, - and if discovered by anyone other than the skipper (who would know he was meeting me) it might be an unfortunate encounter, I decided to get out of there as soon as I could. Except when I tried to open the the French windows behind me they wouldn’t open! I tried for about five minutes. The plot was beginning to thicken! The headline “Womble Singer Wasted By Gaddafi Bodyguards After being Caught Breaking Into Yacht” flitted across my mind. Eventually I went further forward into the yacht and by a stroke of luck found a door that led to a service companionway ladder that enabled me to reach the main deck. I climbed down it and breathed a sigh of relief. At that moment, the captain arrived in a small vehicle and greeted me from onshore. “I see you found it then” He shouted.

We went to a restaurant for our interview and had something to eat. He was a really nice guy, and obviously a first class skipper, but he told me he’d had enough of being with Gaddafi, - it was all too tense. It didn’t work out between us when it came to the job, - I can’t remember why. I think I may even have offered it to him a few days later and perhaps he turned it down. I think dates and availability came into it. But the thing I CAN remember is that sudden panic when I realised I was trapped as an intruder inside Gaddafi’s yacht, and scrambling down a narrow ladder to make my escape!

SNARK UPDATE

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Stephane Grappelli and Mike Batt at CTS Studios, 1983

Dear Snark-Interested Bloggees,

SNARK UPDATE - MARCH 2019

Just an update re SNARK. I think we all know by now that PledgeMusic is, at least in the short term (and unless it gets rescued) up the Swannee. Most folks who pledged (by pre-ordering their copy of the album/merch/experience etc) won't have been charged on their card. If you HAVE - (Apple Pay is one that WAS apparently taken) - do get in touch with Pledge Immediately. If you just used a credit or debit card you can rest easy. If you prefer to negate the transaction just in case, you still have that option.

Anyway - so I'm continuing on what seems to be a longer-than-anticipated trek to get this BLOODY ALBUM made!

In anticipation of getting it made eventually, I have started cutting together a "dummy" version of the show using backing tracks from the original album interspersed with midi signals taken from my orchestra score (I use FINALE software to orchestrate and it plays back the score. I can assign samples to the midi sounds to approximate the orchestra and rhythm. I won't be issuing it like that but it does mean that if I have a star cast member in town, who can only make a certain date I'll have a backing track to work on, which will be at the right tempo and in the right key. The midi orchestra will never be heard on the final record. When we get funded, I'll add the real orchestra and it'll all sound lovely!

I can also do all the backing vocals (which are mostly me, stacked up like I always have done (plus some friends who identify as female) so that no time will be wasted when the dosh shows up.

This approach means I will creep up on the album gradually, like a Snark that happens to be looking the other way, or a Fumious Bandersnatch that has nipped out for a fag and is having a little kip on the way back to its nest.

All this is of course rather boring and it would be so much better just to run into the studio in my usual way and PLAY THE BLOODY THING in a week or so. But - it IS actually quite good for my soul to be chopping this template version together. My son, the brilliant singer-songwriter LUKE BATT (also known in Recordland as "Superheart") is helping me as engineer/programmer on a "day here and a day there" basis. I will probably do what I did on the very first album before my star performers were added one by one, and that is to sing it all through, myself, so they know what to sing and where.

So that's where we are. Why does EVERY project (or nearly every one) turn out to be so long-winded and uphill? It seems to be the story of my life. I am heartened by the fact that the ones that have taken the most effort and given me the most grief are the ones that often end up being the greatest successes, either artistically or commercially. Ideally both, but not always.

Lots of love

Mike

PS - The picture with myself and Stephane Grappelli taken in 1983 when we were making the first album, is to remind me to tell you that we are technically able to transfer his solo work off the old album, onto the new one. Same with George Harrison’s guitar solo. Hooray!

ONE DOOR CLOSES...


…AND ANOTHER ONE SLAMS IN YOUR FACE!

I’m sorry to report that PLEDGE MUSIC - the crowd-funding platform that has for so many years offered a route to market for independent artists, have reported that they are in a cash-flow crisis and seeking a buyer. That leaves us unable to fund our SNARK project (see “Dear Bloggees” Blog on this site). I’m so sorry. Particularly to stars Matt Lucas, John Partridge and Philip Quast, who have pinned, and have not yet unpinned their colours to my mast. In other words they have so far agreed to star on this new first-ever recording of the full West End show score, as stated in my previous blog entitled ”DEAR BLOGGEES”. I will get the project funded a different way. Just got to work out how. Gimme a moment!

More soon, when I get it sorted.

Forgive the lack of jollity in this announcement.

Anyone who has ordered their copy (that’s how Pledge Music works, you just pre-order - it’s not a donation or investment) - rest assured your money has not been, and will not be taken unless they are back on their feet and operating again, in which case you’ll get your album/merchandise/experience whatever. It doesn’t make it any more fun though, does it!??!!!

Thanks for your patience.

All the best

Mike


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