Django was born in a house near New Beckenham Station. A ropy, semitone flat D'Almaine Piano was the most fascinating toy in the house. He found the clatter of railway workers working throughout the night comforting, but had reoccurring nightmares about a Hippopotamus head slowly moving from one side of the ceiling to the other, and of having fluttering moths stuck between his toes. When he was three and a half, Django and sister Paddy were taken by their parents, Frances and Ralf, on a tour of Europe. They travelled in a motorbike and side-car. The door kept flying open as they trundled through France, Austria, Italy, Romania and Yugoslavia. They lived on stolen maize blackened over fires, and Icecreams given to Django in exchange for having blond hair. At one point Romanian Gypsies gave the Bates family a wooden mug full of warm frothy milk which they had just pulled from a cow.
At eleven years old Django got himself several paper-rounds. At 6.0 a.m, an old radiogram would wake everyone in the house except Django: he would be shaken awake by whoever cracked first. After paper-rounds he'd cycle to Sedgehill Comprehensive School and receive a fully comprehensive education. Some of it he remembers still: James the First had a very big tongue and was the wisest fool in Christendom, the hanging gardens of Babylon looked amazing, ... er, that's it.
After school Django would go back to the houses he'd delivered papers to and say 'I'm collecting unwanted paper for World Conservation'. Thus was amassed a huge pile of paper which he would weigh on bathroom scales. When one ton was reached, it would be collected by a recycling company from Greenwich, and Django would receive sixteen pounds. The aim was to buy a tape recorder with 'Sound on Sound' capabilities. He eventually reached one hundred and sixty six pounds and bought one, but never managed to operate it.
Django wet the bed until he was 15, and to this day he finds it hard to act his age. Various alarm bells, zinc-plated sheets and odd bed angles were tried as cures, to no avail. It has been suggested that these attempted cures have given his music an odd tilt and an obsession with alarming surprises.
Many friends and vagrants passed through the family home: lots were artists or musicians who gave Django music lessons. A few were unknown to the Bates family, and it was a mystery what they were doing in the house at all. Django's mother encouraged him to attend weird old folks' houses for lessons on trumpet, piano, violin and guitar whilst his father played eccentric music from all genres at him from babyhood onwards. (violin on boat photo)