THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
New friends, new experiences and some scary moments

Mississippi Turning - to Greenville MS and slightly back


It's OK mums, they didn't have our size
Living room, Graceland
No pretty little thing, waiting for the King...
The gold disc of my favourite Elvis song
A small part of the trophy collection
My souvenir shirt
The day started as planned with a trip to Graceland. You can't come to Memphis and NOT go. There's something touching in the relationship between the faithful fans (is anyone not, to some extent, an Elvis fan?) and the continuing exploitation of his talent. More than forty years after his ignominious death his estate is still coining it relentlessly. 

What a shame no-one in his management ever cared enough for him to introduce him to the fine things in life he could have enjoyed - or to coax him away from the drugs (10 different drugs were found in significant quantities at his autopsy) that reduced him to what he became.

The Q has less sympathy. He thinks Elvis was his own man and enjoyed his life as best he could. He might not have appreciated art, travel, interior decor or fine wines, but he bought all the cars and planes he wanted. In the end, it's true, a man is responsible for his own choices, but I am sentimental enough to wish he had had better friends. I have always been lucky in mine.

In England, there is a certain kind of salt of the earth person who, when Elvis is mentioned, goes solemn and says simply, "He's the King." I thought of one of those, an excavator driver I used to work with years ago, now sadly "gone on", when I bought my souvenir T-shirt.

In the line for the shuttle to the mansion, the Q and I chatted to a trucker from Alabama who also reminded me of him - except he had visited every state of the union (49 of them on his truck) and five of Canada's provinces. I don't think my late friend travelled much. Still, he was a good man and and, like the King himself, deserved a better end. 

At the obvious point in the tour the words of the song in the video came back to me; 

"...there's a pretty little thing, waiting for the King, down in the jungle room..."

Then we hit the road. I gave the Q an accidental taste of last night's medicine. When he read my post from yesterday he had called a friend from Tennessee to ask if I had been in any real danger. His response, apparently, was that "West Memphis has a reputation as bad as anywhere in the States." Where did I pull in for gas? West Memphis. Whoops.

We had a good run through Mississippi, a place the Q had hitch-hiked through 34 years ago as an 18-year old. Then, the parts we drove through were just farms and general stores. Now the state has a tourism industry and the roads are lined with hotels. He stopped off at a McDonalds for the free wifi in order to book us into a place for the night. He chose Greenville, on our route to New Orleans. He called me and I set the satnav to there, arriving at a respectable time and feeling that we had handled things much better than yesterday. Sadly they knew nothing of me and had no spare rooms. He had accidentally booked us into the Holiday Inn in Greenwood MS instead. That was 50 miles back along our route for the day, so he asked me to use the wifi in Greenville to book something else.

To cut a long story short, we ended up in Cleveland MS. Over a supper at Fat Baby's Catfish House nearby, the amiable proprietor told us that he wouldn't like to be in Greenville late at night, so maybe our guardian angels had been at work.

Tomorrow, on to New Orleans and the last night of our stout fellowship. We plan to celebrate by living in some style. Q will go on to Florida on business and I will continue my quest for the real America alone.