Back-Rubber / Back-Scrubber

For the past few hours I’ve been humming the words to the wonderful song by The Smiths, “Half a Person”. For more than two decades now I am in awe of the genius lines of this song, particularly this:

And if you have five seconds to spare

Then I’ll tell you the story of my life:

Sixteen, clumsy and shy

I went to London and I…

I booked myself in at the Y… W.C.A.

I said : “I like it here – can I stay?

I like it here – can I stay?

Do you have a vacancy For a back-scrubber?

But only this morning, when I searched for the lyrics, did I realise that the words were “back-scrubber” and not, as I had always thought, “back-rubber”. I admit I was sorely disappointed. How much more appropriate it would have been for the clumsy sixteen-year-old to ask about a vacancy for a “back-rubber” at an all-woman hotel. Oh well; I guess that from now on I’ll just need to re-adjust the images this song conjures up in my mind.

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