God’s Own Country (and Western)

DAY 5 – 24th MARCH

A relatively early start today for the 400 mile drive to Memphis. After my earlier experiences with driving from the airport, I wasn’t especially looking forward to it. But Axel’s looked after the hire car well – and I drive it from the car park to the front of the hotel.

Once out of the city, driving is relatively easy – just remember which side to stay on and how to use the mirrors correctly. It sounds simple enough, but getting used to the US roads system takes a little time.

Today I’ve got the radio for company – and what a wonderful mix. Scanning along the dial we have : country, more country, God and… you guessed it – country. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating that a little. There’s also a bit of rock and R&B in the main cities.

But country music is the staple diet of radio around here – and the adverts reflect the type of listeners these stations attract. Lots of home improvement, new cars and farming equipment. In fact, it was a bit strange to here a load of agricultural prices mixed in with songs that deal variously with domestic abuse, bigamy, good deeds and sex.

So after all that debauchery, thank goodness for the American Family Network – a strange mix of news with a Christian bias (a church leader saying it’s Not Cool to ban homosexuals), the Good Word of the Lord and, yup, more country than you can shake a stick at. the local station of AFN is based in the wonderfully named Duck Hill, Mississippi.

Towards Grenada, God is thrown out of the window with yet another country station containing an advert for a local pool bar (It’s 8 miles west on Highway Five – look for the signs saying “Pool Bar”. Thursdays is a $5 cover which gets you unlimited beer and cocktail refills). These guys know how to party.

Into Tennessee and the traffic suddenly builds up on the outskirts of Memphis. But for 4pm, downtown is amazingly quiet. Yeah, there’s traffic – but relatively light compared to New Orleans. I even drive straight past the Sun Studio – where Elvis got his break. And the Sat Nav does an amazing job, guiding me right into the hotel car park. No dents, no scratches and a lovely room on the 11th floor.

Elvis has left the building - and NewsMutt has arrived. uh-huh...

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