ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Housing Benefit Hill: Rubber soul

Updated on September 10, 2017
CJStone profile image

CJ Stone is an author, columnist and feature writer. He has written seven books, and columns and articles for many newspapers and magazines.

Housing Benefit Hill. Published in the Guardian Weekend January 6th 1996

Illustration by Ian Pollock
Illustration by Ian Pollock | Source

"I suppose - looking at it from where I am now, in the future - I can say, yeah, it's things like that you want. I mean, I'd be delighted to be on the main stage at a festival with thousands of people going wild about me and giving me an encore..."

I HAVE it on good authority that Steven Andrews and his friends have got up a petition demanding that the Guardian prints a story about him every week. The good authority is Steven himself. I typed up the petition. Well I'm not sure I could manage a story about him every week, or even every month, but I'm certain that he deserves at least one more mention.

Steven Andrews - in case you've forgotten - is that old hippie friend of mine who had such a spectacular line in sartorial lunacy back in the '70s. He used to wear red satin trousers with yellow stars and a purple tee-shirt with black stars and a satin jacket and knee-length, metallic-blue platform boots, amongst other things. So if you imagine him dressed like that now, it should give you the flavour of the rest of the story.

Steve is quite tall and has a certain stoop. When his hair was long he used to wear it like a curtain to hide his face. He was often depressed. But even in the moments of the worst depression Steve was incapable of taking himself seriously. I used to say that he was a parody of himself. Whenever he speaks it is with a huge sense of the ridiculous, and he punctuates his conversations with snorts and guffaws, as if he's on the point of choking on his own absurdity. It's as if he's watching his life on TV, like an ITV sit-com, and providing his own canned laughter.

"I always wanted to be a rock star," he told me. "I suppose I wanted to be a protest singer, kind of Bob Dylan type. I used to think that somehow or another it would all come to me and I didn't have to do that much about it. But - well it didn't - it never did come to me.

"I used to do these crazy songs which I didn't really like doing. There was one called 'Extracting The Latex From A Rubber Ducky' which was just ridiculous. The whole concept was insane. It was inspired by a friend of mine who was schizophrenic. He used to often mutter to himself 'rubber ducky, rubber ducky, rubber ducky.' And one night we'd been smoking Durban Poison* and it just came into my head. I said: 'Paul, I could write a song called Extracting The Latex From A Rubber Ducky.' And he said: 'Yeah, well - you know - go for it!'

"So I went home, I wrote this stuff down. And I put a few chords to it and I thought, 'well, I've got my song, Extracting The Latex From A Rubber Ducky.' And I started playing it in Chapter Arts Centre. And people loved it and it was really stupid.

"It was a two chord song. It had crazy lines in it like, 'extracting the latex from a rubber ducky, gets you in a mess, yes, very mucky, will give you all a try if you're very lucky, extracting the latex from a rubber ducky.' That's the first verse of it. It carries on like that. It's just rubbish."

And then one night he was doing a performance at the Arts Centre: Extracting The Latex From A Rubber Ducky, and a few other songs, including one or two cover versions. He was half way through A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan, when two of the strings on his guitar broke. He wasn't all that good a guitarist anyway, and now he couldn't even get a tune out of it. So he put on this voice. "Well actually this is the Bryan Ferry version," he said, and then he hammed it up like crazy to cover up for the jangling cacophony of his strangulated guitar.

"And then I got stuck with doing Bryan Ferry versions of everything. So I was doing this stupid Rubber Ducky song, and Bryan Ferry voices for covers of other things, and all this rubbish people seemed to be, like, really into."

One time he was at the Windsor Free Festival, off his head on Mogadon, with a couple of people he knew. Hawkwind were playing. And he just decided that he wanted to play. He borrowed a guitar from someone, and he started hassling the organisers to go on stage. He was probably drawling, and almost certainly incapable of listening to reason. In the end the organisers agreed, just to get rid of him. This was on the main stage, after Hawkwind. So he was headlining for Hawkwind. And Steve had a little yellow rubber duck with him, and him and his two friends got up there before this massive crowd, with a beat up old guitar and a kazoo, and a rubber duck, and started playing the Rubber Ducky song. The crowd loved it.

"I had an encore for it. I just couldn't relate to it, cos there were all these thousands and thousands of hippie people out there in the field all going wild about this rubbish.

"I suppose - looking at it from where I am now, in the future - I can say, yeah, it's things like that you want. I mean, I'd be delighted to be on the main stage at a festival with thousands of people going wild about me and giving me an encore. I'd think: 'Great! I've really got it made here.' But then I just thought: 'God, these people are mad, they're just going wild about this rubbish, this Rubber Ducky junk.'

"I did some other songs. I did one called He Left His Head In Acapulco, which is also totally stupid. And a song called Pippin The Pigeon. And this was the kind of stuff they wanted. All the songs the people seemed to go for was all this rubbish. Any songs about - you know - the trials and tribulations of life, and my love life, or lack of it - things like that - people weren't into. But then again, if you were a big star writing songs about failed romance, then that's fine: people would all be into that. But if you're not a big star then they don't want that. They want to listen to a load of junk."

Some months later he was in London on his way to a Van Morrison concert. Van Morrison was one of his heroes (at least Van Morrison didn't have to do stupid songs about rubber ducks). And before the gig he went to a pub to get himself a drink. This was in Finsbury Park, an ordinary little pub at the end of a terraced street. So he's at the bar, relaxing with his drink and looking forward to the concert, when this stranger comes up to him. "Oh man!" the bloke says, bubbling with enthusiasm. "Oh man! You're the guy that does the song about the rubber ducky, you're from Wales, oh, this is too much, there's all these people over here who've heard all about you. Oh, you've got to come and meet all my friends."

And Steve thought: "Right! Well! I've just come in the bar and there's all these people heard all about me, and they wanna meet me, and this guy here knows all about me, and this is all about this fucking rubber ducky again!"

So he went over to talk to them.

They were treating him like a big star, asking him all sorts of questions, plying him with drinks and being generally enthusiastic. And all about a song that made no sense.

"I played that song so much that one day I had to kill the rubber ducky. One night at the Chapter Bar in Cardiff, I rearranged some of the song lyrics to include the death of the duck, and with some help I stabbed and stamped it into its shoe-box coffin. We even had a guy dressed up as an Undertaker. Of course, that wasn't the end of the bloody duck. I got calls to do the re-incarnation of the duck. I did it a couple of times, I'm sorry to say. But that time we killed the duck was wild. There were people in the crowd actually crying!"

Such is life. People crying over an imaginary rubber duck. But it strikes me that the image has masturbatory implications. Extracting the latex from a rubber ducky: think about it. Perhaps that's why the song was so popular.

Would you buy a record called "Extracting the Latex From a Rubber Ducky"?

See results

Buy CJ Stone's books here

Source

© 2011 CJStone

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      There are three good reasons why I would be proud of Rubber Ducky being a hit: firstly, it would make me some money, secondly, it would show just how crazy it all is that this is what it took for me to get my big break, and thirdly, it would be a lot of fun in a world full of doom and gloom!

    • CJStone profile imageAUTHOR

      CJStone 

      7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Be careful of what you wish for Steve. It reminds me of that three wishes story, when the guy wishes the sausages on the end of his wife's nose. This could be the sausage on the end of your nose Steve, only you might not have another wish to get rid of it again!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      That's the spirit, Steve!

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Chris, and JamaGenee, I would LOVE it to be a hit! I do lots of things I don't enjoy so why not another? At least I'd be getting some money for it! Thank you, JamaGenee, for voting!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      That's the chance you have to take when you're a musician, I guess. On the other hand, if a hit song makes one famous enough, fans will be happy to listen to other songs by him (or her) in a different genre. ;D

    • CJStone profile imageAUTHOR

      CJStone 

      7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      I'm not sure if Steve should be pleased or not. What if it really is a hit? He'd have to play it for the rest of his life. It's like one of those wishes that goes wrong, being famous for something you can't stand.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Heard it, voted for it through the tears of laughter. Also gave it a shout out on Facebook. ;D

    • CJStone profile imageAUTHOR

      CJStone 

      7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      You can listen to it if you like JamaGenee. The YouBloom link above let's you hear it, and then you can vote for it as well!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Better leave a comment before I watch the Rubber Ducky video, or I'll be laughing too hard to write anything. Great hub, Chris, despite the fact that Steve hates THAT song! ;D

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, David! Yes, Chris, we just keep on keeping on!

    • CJStone profile imageAUTHOR

      CJStone 

      7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Nor have I come to that.

    • CJStone profile imageAUTHOR

      CJStone 

      7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Yes David, he's never given up.

    • profile image

      David Parkes 

      7 years ago

      Haha - love this story. Steve is the kinda guy you feel really deserved that big break. If for nothing else, then just for his shear wilfulness. And he's still plugging away today!

    • CJStone profile imageAUTHOR

      CJStone 

      7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Never wore them myself. I was more a monkey boots kind of guy. (Mind you, they hurt like hell too).

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I had some platform shoes I really loved! They had red toe caps and blue and yellow for the rest of them.

    • CJStone profile imageAUTHOR

      CJStone 

      7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      And platforms too? We were talking about them at work today. One of my mates says he bought a pair of platforms then went fishing in them on his bike. He forgot that the heels would keep hitting the ground as he cycled. They were so painful he never wore them again.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thanks for sharing this, Chris! I had forgotten all about my red flares with yellow stars and my purple T-shirt with the black stars! I wish you could still get clothes like that! I'd still wear them!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)