Tuesday, 11 April 2017


Illustration: Viz (from Thirty Years Of Viz Comic)
by Dave Roberts

According to  Billy Connolly, when he heard the song D.I.V.O.R.C.E. by Tammy Wynette he 'couldn't leave it alone'.
That is to say he was seized by an irresistible urge to write a parody of the song, which he did to great acclaim, even getting his own version of the song into the charts.
When I first heard Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town, way back in 1969 when it was first released, I had a similar urge which, years later, came to fruition with this parody, Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Crewe.
There's a not-very-subtle difference between the original Ruby and my Ruby.
In the original song Ruby is a sassy, sexy gal; trailer-trash perhaps and past the first flush of youth, but with 'wants and needs' which her unfortunate husband can't fulfil, hence her need to go out on the town and seek out someone who can.
My Ruby, on the other hand, is so far beyond the first flush of youth that she couldn't even see it with the aid of Jodrell Bank. She's addicted not to the pleasures of the flesh, but to Pernod, a 'ladies drink' which, to me, smells like Jeyes Fluid (a popular disinfectant). 
And she's not really looking to 'play away'. She'd rather just hit the flesh-pots of Crewe and drink herself into merciful oblivion. But then, wouldn't we all?
Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town, which actually dates back to 1967, has an interesting history; Mel Tillis based it on a real-life couple he knew - a  disabled Vietnam war veteran and his wife.
The wife, who was a nurse, tended to her husband's needs whilst having her own needs (and, wants, don't forget) attended to by a third party.
It all ended in tragedy, with the husband killing the wife and then himself.
Mel Tillis obviously thought this was going a little too far and so, in the song, the husband contents himself with thinking about shooting his wife, something all husbands do, and  have done since time began, usually when the subject of leaving the toilet seat up is being discussed.
Ruby of Crewe (or near Crewe) is in little danger of being shot. She is much more likely to succumb to alcohol poisoning or a broken neck, given her propensity for falling down stairs.
This parody of the song has an eventful history itself.
This is the second version, the first one having been lost in odd, but somehow typical, circumstances.
I originally wrote the parody in the early 1990s when I was corresponding with Bernard Wrigley, the Bolton Bullfrog.
We'd collaborated on a couple of things - notably Albert, The Lion and The Drink (or whatever we eventually called it) and, having written the first version of Ruby, I sent it to Bernard for his delight and delectation.
The only trouble was that I sent Bernard the original and threw away the only other copy.
When the time came to look at the song again I, naturally, couldn't find it and got in touch with Bernard asking for a copy.
He quite sensibly denied all knowledge of the song, and so I had no alternative but to write it again. The first verse and the bit about Ruby falling down the stairs appeared in the original version; the rest - who knows?
The picture above shows Ruby exactly as she appeared in my mind's eye when writing this parody and in this connection I have a shameful confession to make.
All I did was type the word 'slag' into Google and, in due course, courtesy of the redoubtable Viz Comic, there was my Ruby, complete and fully formed, just as I had imagined her.
Disgracefully sexist of me, of course.
Those who know me will, I'm sure, be relieved to hear that Ruby from Crewe is not based on any one person.
But I can tell you that in days of yore there used to be quite a few Rubys propping up the bar of the Kings Arms, early doors. 
That is all I have to say.
If you fancy giving Ruby a go - by which I mean singing the song, of course - all I ask is that you mention my name. Thank you!

Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Crewe
(Mel Tillis – New words by Dave Roberts)

You've sanded down your face
And stuck your hairpiece on with glue;
Ruby are you contemplating
Travelling to Crewe?
And getting pissed on Pernod
In the way you always do?
Oh, Ruby - Don't take your love to Crewe...

It wasn't me who bought
That take-out Vindaloo for tea;
And made you spend the weekend
sitting on the lavatory.
Just for a joke I locked you in
And then I lost the key...
Oh, Ruby – Just put the blame on me.

It's hard to love a girl who witters on
When she gets pissed
About the wants and the needs of a woman of your age
- You ought to make a list...
But it won't be long I've heard them say
'Til they unblock the loo...
Oh, Ruby - Don't take your love to Crewe...

She's leaving now, 'cos
I just heard her falling down the stairs;
She does it fifteen times a day
And no one really cares;
But she doesn't love me any more
And there's nothing I can do;
Oh, Ruby - Don't take your love to Crewe;
Oh, Ruby – For God's sake, take me too...

©Dave Roberts 2015

First published on THE ODD EXCEPTION 15th August 2015

Footnote: A while ago I managed to get embroiled in one of those ridiculous, tedious and pointless Facebook discussions which invariably end in tears. I really can't remember what the original post was about, but it was based around a thinly veiled and unbelievably unfunny 'dirty joke'.
Along with many others I pointed out just how  downright offensive this 'joke' really was. 
Astonishingly, some anally retentive keyboard warrior did a Google search on me to try to dig out some dirt showing how depraved, and therefore hypocritical, I was.
All he (I'm assuming, of course, that this A.R.K.W. was a male - in fact I'd put money on it) could find was a picture of 'Knowing D, Knowing Lou' (aka The Passionettes) from the Middlewich Diary Notice Board 

and the above internet stock photo showing my idea of what 'Ruby' from Crewe might look like. He duly posted both photos onto the thread. And he did it without comment, hoping, I assume, that the pictures would speak for themselves and reveal me as some kind of pervert.
Before I could rush back to the FB thread to tell this A.R.K.W just what an idiot he was, the thread was, quite rightly, deleted.
But the incident has always stuck in my mind as a prime example of internet based stupidity. I've been on the internet since 1999 and, like many, have occasionally been subject to the attention of trolls. They don't bother me. But I would have liked to have told this particular weirdo just what I thought of him.
So if he should chance upon this re-published version of the Ruby song, complete with that  Viz caricature of a  gloriously Ruby-esque lady, can I just say to him: 'You sir, are the biggest idiot I have come across in eighteen years on the internet. And that, believe me, is saying a lot...'

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