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GONZO MAGAZINE #280: Jon meets Steve Andrews

I first read about Steve Andrews in one of C. J. Stone's books, in which he chronicles his comings and goings within various sub-groupings of what could generally be referred to as the 'Alternative Society' in the UK. He described how Steve lived in a house in Cardiff, surrounded by houseplants, and with a giant Madagascan hissing cockroach for company.

He told the story of how Steve had achieved a certain degree of cultural notoriety in the early 1970s when he appeared on stage at various rock festivals singing a peculiar song about "extracting the latex from a rubber ducky". This song attracted a fair modicum of Andy Warhol's mythical 'fifteen minutes of fame' and Steve, who also appears under the moniker of 'The Bard of Ely', ended up with a small, but significant, cult following.

I first 'met' Steve on Facebook, some years ago, following the addition of Chris Stone to the roster of Gonzo Weekly contributors. We exchanged pleasantries occasionally, but nothing more significant than that.

However, last summer, I - as I have recounted elsewhere in these pages - discovered the joys of Twitter, and took to it like a (rubber) duck(y) to water. There is something about the restriction in the number of characters that one is able to use in a post which engenders a sort of zen haiku sensibility. And, although I had successfully managed to avoid becoming  too addicted to any other social media (I use Facebook, but begrudgingly), I fell hook, line and sinker for Twitter.

So, it appeared, did Steve Andrews.

Over the past six months or so, I have become increasingly interested in what it is that Steve does. As well as a musician, he is an environmental activist and a fan of killifish, which - if you don't already know - includes some of the most dazzlingly beautiful small fishes you are ever likely to see; but, tragically, these fish only live for a few months, making them almost like swimming, annual, potted plants.

Steve is now living in Portugal, but is very pivotally involved in a whole slew on environmental activist campaigns. One of the most depressing at the moment is in reaction to - what appears to be - an entirely unnecessary, brutal and environmentally unsound programme of tree felling by Sheffield City Council, which has not only destroyed a bunch of perfectly healthy, beautiful and much-loved trees, but has also destroyed an important colony of very rare butterflies.

If the fact that he has a bright green beard and sings songs about 'rubber duckies' wasn't enough, his sterling work in publicising the protest against the powers that be in Sheffield, meant that I am unquestionably on his side.

So, it seemed a perfectly logical step to give him a ring and get him to talk about it all for Gonzo Web Radio...

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