I’d imagined that with Charlotte and Memphis both being part of the South then they’d be reasonably close. Certainly not 628 miles! Therefore having managed to get one of those 4500-mile Avios redemptions (which are now 7500 miles) flying was to Memphis was a no-brainer, for want of a better phrase!

The airport scanners seem to have taken a dislike to my trousers. Yesterday the same thing occurred with the stitching around the crotch area getting flagged. Therefore on four occasions in 24 hours I’ve had to do the Jay-Z pose while getting my bollocks microwaved. The authorities claim this is harmless but without sounding like a tinfoil-head, why are children and pregnant women not allowed through them? Anyhow I won’t be wearing that outfit to the airport again!

Memphis has got a bit of a rep, as they say on the streets. Some league tables have it as the murder capital of the US. However Memphis is also a big tourist destination and therefore most of the serious stuff probably takes place outside of the downtown touristy section. That said, Memphis city centre is still a bit rough and ready. There are quite a few unoccupied buildings and the occasional dodgy-looking character. Plenty of visible security is around though so you still feel reasonably safe.

The hotel where I’m staying has a cool address, right on BB King Boulevard. It has an interesting setup, essentially covering the top three floors of a multi-storey car park. Next door is the amazing Sterick Building, a proper old-school skyscraper. When built in 1930, this was the highest building in South. Since the 1980s it has sat derelict, although even today it remains the fifth tallest building in Memphis. There are murals adorning the ground floor making it look a bit more presentable but its sad to see such a historical building in this state. The pool on the 9th floor of the hotel/car park gives a great view of the Sterick Building.

Plenty of fellow British voices can be heard around the hotel and a GAdventures tour is also staying here. The nightlife/tourist epicentre of downtown Memphis is Beale Street so I wandered down there. Beale Street contains two solid blocks of bars, including plenty with live music. The genre of choice seems to be R&B, as in the proper good rhythm and blues rather than the Drake and Usher rubbish. I was tempted into a venue on account of there being a good sounding act performing. After ordering a beer at the bar I turned around to see wall displaying a plethora of wrestling memorabilia. It turns out that I was in Jerry “The King” Lawler’s bar. Jerry’s a blast from the past from watching wrestling as a kid in the 1980s. There was that much shiny plastic stuff in there that I couldn’t take a decent photo without getting a glare! It was certainly a tacky establishment but you probably wouldn’t expect anything else on Beale Street.

Hotel on top of a car park
The wonderful Sterick Building
The Sterick Building from the 9th floor pool of the hotel on top of the car park
Jerry Lawler bar/museum