You were always on my mind . . .

She was only young when he died, but the king of kitsch has got Eleanor Bailey under his spell

I remember the morning Elvis died, August 16, 1977. My family were sitting at the breakfast table. "Elvis Presley has died," announced my father from behind his newspaper. "Oh, really?" I said, barely looking up from the boiled sweet that was my breakfast choice at the time.

I was too young to understand. My parents were too busy dragging me away from the ice cream stand at Bartok recitals to do their educational duty regarding this century's biggest star. I came to like his music, but it was the man and the myth that really got me.

I've always been a sucker for shallow life metaphors and in this area Elvis is indisputably the king. The American Dream turned sour. Plucked from the ghetto, shot to the stars, flushed down the can. Elvis, like the hamburger, over-ran the world and became sick on his own gluttony.

In fact, I discovered that I am Elvis' spiritual twin. Just look at the bizarre similarities in our lives. Both our names begin EL and end EY. There was confusion at both of our births; the doctor thought I was a boy, Elvis unexpectedly arrived with a stillborn twin. We both like peanut butter, and I, too, would put on weight if I ate like he did. And neither of us can act. Spooky huh (uh-huh, huh)?

I felt spiritually closest to Elvis at college, the day Olga and I watched the tearsome telebiopic Elvis & Me three times over. After 48 hours of hedonistic, Presley-style partying, Priscilla's four-hour, drippy, sanitised film is just the thing. From the moment their eyes met in Germany to the divorce so many years later, nothing is more guaranteed to clear your stomach.

A pilgrimage to Graceland became essential and in 1995 my dream came true. Pauline, with whom I had travelled right across America, was a sceptic. Elvis was inextricably linked in her head with Radio Two and overweight, misty-eyed, middle-aged women. To persuade her otherwise, I bought, in New Orleans, a tape of the classic Elvis comeback in Las Vegas 1969 - the black leather and heavy sideburns concert. It is wonderful because there are few of the tinny, "Hound Dog"-style numbers and far more of the rich, bluesy, "Suspicious Minds" variety. As we listened, I read aloud a pile of trash called Elvis: His Last Hour On The Toilet (something like that), which had been used as a door stop in a San Francisco book store.

We drove triumphantly into the car park at Graceland and entered kitsch heaven. Every room lovingly preserved in Elvis' choice, Seventies' style - the leopard-skin rugs, the dark brown furnishings. Walking from room to room, you are accompanied by Priscilla on audio guide, talking about Elvis like the woman from the Cadbury's caramel ad.

We all - Pauline, me and lots of fat, middle-aged women - cried round the grave, which is so dignified (at least in comparison with everything else). The only let-down was the gift shop - I was desperate for an Elvis fluffy pink toilet-roll holder but had to settle for a pen.

Some people don't understand why we should thank God for Elvis. They don't appreciate the cool of a man who has been dead 20 years but is still raking in an estimated $100 million a year and has time for personal appearances in fast-food joints. So what if his outlook was naive. In these complex times, we like our icons shallow. Even "intelligent" artists love the Elvis metaphor - Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train, Nicolas Cage in Wild At Heart, singing "Love Me Tender" with his nose blown off.

Some people think Andy Warhol's "Double Elvis" is a statement about the nature of fame. In fact, it's a moral message that people who eat too much peanut butter shall be forced to practice asexual reproduction.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Year 5 Teacher

    £80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

    Software Developer

    £35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

    Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

    £35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

    Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

    Day In a Page

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past