I like Elvis is Alive stories. I sort of wish he was. Only the Elvis-alive that I fantasise is the beautiful young Elvis who sang All Shook Up and I Got Stung, two of my favourite songs as a young teenager. Not the obese and ailing Elvis of his final days. Though, as a connoisseur of kitsch, I do also like the Las Vegas Elvis of the white studded suits, and would be quite happy if he was alive in that incarnation. I'm not quite fashionable enough to prefer the modish Elvis of the Sun records repertoire, though his image at that time was even more beautiful.
One reason why I'm so sympathetic to all this Elvis-is-alive stuff is that it represents a modern version of a recurrent folktale motif: that of the King in the Mountain who will return to save his people. So in folk literature, that's Kings like King Arthur. And of course there are links to the Christian story of Jesus and the core orthodox Jewish belief in the coming of the Messiah. Myths after all are versions of realities, and which you think is the reality will depend on what your core beliefs are. Or think they are.
When I was a full time teacher trainer, I used to love doing one of the major teaching events of each year, which was teaching large year groups how to tell stories to children, instead of reading them out of books. The students always wanted the prop of the book, and felt it made them better story-presenters. But then we would get groups to do comparative ratings of other students telling and reading the same story. And they always preferred the tellings. Because eye contact and the animation of a face telling a story have a magic which has and will always draw listeners of any age in. And you don't establish that relationship with an audience if you're reading out of a book.
So then,we used to introduce them to the research on folk tale motifs, and show how you could learn and memorise a quite elaborate story from just a skeleton of the main events, and you could then perform it. And in the end, they would find the kids in the classes they taught begging for that story out of your head.
But that was all a long time ago. I did use the technique to help my daughter do an oral batmitzvah torah discussion (the sedrah, or Torah reading, was Shemos) when she was twelve. She talked about the Almighty choosing Moses as the Messenger, who really didn't want to be chosen, and completely lacked self confidence.
It was quite a struggle, because she really wanted to do a discussion which had been previously written out in full, and read it off the page. There were tears throughout the preparation stage, about which I felt very guilty. But she got there in the end, and did a marvellous and touching presentation, which I still remember with a little pang in my heart. And people kept talking to me for years afterwards about how lovely it was that she spoke from the heart, instead of reading off a page.
So it was really weird when I woke up this morning, switched the radio on as usual and heard the Radio 4 sports round-up commentator saying, and Yasser Arafat will be the seam bowler for....
What? He's alive?
OK, I had only just woken up.
I did a web search when I got the computer running. Yes, there really is a Yasir Arafat.
He's a seam bowler, originally from Rawalpindi, for the Scottish cricket team. And, the link being to The Guardian, it obligingly tells us he's no relation.
I've emailed Norm for enlightenment.
UPDATE: I knew I could count on Norm to be, er, on the ball... He'd actually blogged it back in August. But, Norm, it still doesn't enlighten me as to the nature and status of Scottish cricket...