AN important date slipped by without retired "jack of all trades" Norman Purse honouring the occasion.
It was the birthday of a close "mate".
The pair has shared a Cleveland unit for the past five years.
While Norman tunes into his favourite TV shows, mainly news, his mate sits on a stool and holds a guitar but doesn’t play it or talk during the news broadcasts.
Norman admits he slipped up by neglecting to celebrate the January 8 birthday of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, Elvis Presley.
AS the birthday came and went, Norman was planning to make some space by selling his lifesize fibreglass Elvis statue, which is rather imposing in a small unit.
Norman says he has always liked the King’s music. When the Elvis burst into the limelight in the 1950s, Norman could whistle Love Me Tender as he worked as a roofing plumber with the Revesby, Sydney, factory of HH Robertson Australia Pty Ltd.
The post-war era was kind to Norman, born in Mullumbimby. He had grown up on a banana plantation, enlisted in the army in 1941 and served in Darwin as a gunner with the 14th Anti-Aircraft Battery.
MORE than six decades on, he believes most Australians still do not realise the extent of the Japanese bombing and says his unit defended against about 60 raids.
"People also misconstrue what anti-aircraft artillery was designed to do," he says. "It wasn’t to shoot the planes down but to fire shells to put them off course so they didn’t have a straight line for their bomb sights."
After three years, Norman joined the Australian 1st Paratroop Battalion as a way to "get out of Darwin".
He says he trained at Richmond for one major mission, "to join with the 7th Division to retake Singapore" but the war ended before the call to action.
THESE are just some of the stories that Norm’s fibreglass mate, Elvis, could hear, if he could take the space between his ears off the echoes of Love Me Tender.
For the past few years, while Norm has tuned into the nightly News, Elvis’s eyes have been on a statuesque Egyptian beauty, another lifesize fibreglass statue.
Elvis can get off his stool and pass the working guitar to someone who can actually play it. Norman says a musician he engaged to tune the instrument believed it was well constructed and of good quality.
The portable Presley package was still available this week, with Norman slightly disappointed that no one except me responded to his ad.
He pondered whether the tight economic climate was the reason, or whether maybe the shine has faded from the King’s crown and Elvis’s popularity has waned.
Norman advertised his Elvis for $1800.
This column has appeared in The Redland Times, Cleveland, Redland City, Queensland, Australia – on the shores of beautiful Moreton Bay. Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising.