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Mike Batt performs Wombles song at Pete Paphides book launch

Broken Greek - a story of chip shops and pop songs

A one-off supergroup performed songs including Remember You’re A Womble at the launch event for Broken Greek, the childhood memoir of music journalist Pete Paphides.

In the book, Pete writes about growing up as a shy and anxious boy in 1970s Birmingham, where his Greek Cypriot parents ran a chip shop, and how he developed his love of pop music.

He remembers the feelings evoked by the “otherwordliness” of children’s television music, from Bagpuss to Camberwick Green and Ivor the Engine, courtesy of “avant-garde library musicians, left-leaning folk enthusiasts and experimentally-minded classical musicians”.

He was particularly struck by the “oddly melancholy collection of songs” on the Wombling Songs album, his first experience of the “ineffable Englishness” of certain records. He writes: “Wombling Songs remains, to the best of my knowledge, like no children’s album before or since.”

And like many people, he thought the theme song went, ‘The Wombles of Wimbledon / common are we’. “Why would I know there was a Wimbledon Common? Why would I even know what a common was? In Birmingham, we only had parks. And so I’d keep an eye out for Wombles, common as they were.”

Pete Paphides will be appearing ‘in conversation’ on a book tour around the country, in some cases with special guests performing songs referenced in the book.

At the London launch on 6 March, alongside Mike Batt on vocals and keyboards were Helen O’Hara (violin), Eos Counsell (violin), David Arnold (guitar), Andy Lewis (bass), Sean Read (sax) and Adrian Sheehan (drums).

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