Manila 1 of 2: The Clash- Bankrobber
"They're the only band who stuck tae their promise eh no appearing on Top of the Pops".
Probably filmed in Dunfermline, on 6th July, 1978, definitely featured on the BBC's "Nationwide" a week or so later, and also repeated on the hugely-entertaining "Sounds of the Seventies", decades later. Never a truer sentence spoken.
It's a month on from the 'Alok in Wonderland' episode. My boss, Dave, is worried that I may leave Asia without visiting the Philippines. Independent of the ambiguity over the 'had to help the Pope out'; meaning: had to 'had to help the Pope out regarding HIS GIRL', in the words of Francis Begbie, of Trainspotting fame, I have to declare that: "Ah'm nae fxxking buftie". Translation: "I am not homosexual."
I have devised the cunningmost plan that would leave Baldrick lost for words: I'm off to Hong Kong to obtain my visa for Myanmar, via Manila. So, Pudong to Manila on the Thursday, Manila to Hong Kong on the Monday, Hong Kong to Pudong on the Tuesday. Sorted!
Dave is no stranger to Manila, having a Filipino wife. He's also undertaken a couple of 'sports tours' in the city. He knows where the action is, and is willing to share. Do YOU know where the action is? Well, it's Burgos Street, Manila. Please note this.
Cebu Pacific are absolutely fine on the way out. As a UK citizen, I am through immigration quickly, and I am in a baxi (taxi) to my hotel within 30 minutes of touching down. It's about 04:30 on Friday morning when I check in. Despite the hour, the staff are friendly enough.
I do make breakfast in the morning, and I do recall I have a bit of work to e-mail through to Dave. I pick up a map and start exploring. Even though it is still morning, I think it's an idea to check out Burgos Street. So, I take the elevated train a few stops, and where I am headed is just a couple of blocks away.
I duly locate Burgos Street, and WTF? It's a residential street with a kindergarten. I've paced the length three times, and this isn't happening. Something's gone a bit Pete Tong!
Anyone who has visited Manila will know it is invariably scorchio, so, at around 13:00, it is time for a beer. I find an open-air food court, and duly text Dave. He is adamant – Burgos Street is the place. Oh dear!
After a liquid lunch; let's face it, I am not going to enjoy the local food, I wander around, taking the opportunity of getting a haircut where I can easily articulate my wishes, unlike China. I wind up at my hotel around dusk, having enjoyed exploring the city on foot, though totally perplexed regarding 'the action'.
Having showered, I pick up a map at reception, and on inspection, it is enlightening. There's a Burgos Street in Manila and… there's a Burgos Street in…Makati! And, those of you who know Lockhart Road in Wanchai, have probably seen the bar named "The New Makati"… What a fxxking numpty I am!
Not one for normally taking baxis, I duly set off on foot to Burgos Street, Makati. It's about an hour's walk, at my pace.
Dave's given me a handwritten map, which is decent, with one notable flaw. He's confused the "Filling Station" with a figment of his imagination, the "Pit Stop". Never mind, his heart is in the right place.
When, I do hit the real Burgos Street, it is impressive. Have I ever seen a more concentrated red light district than here? No. Have I ever seen handfuls of guys openly touting Viagra on the street? No. Do I have another interesting rhetorical question? You can answer that yourself…
Within a few moments I plank myself in one of the bars. I am sure they are much of a muchness, however, I've chosen one that seems to be low on the hassle factor. Nubile girls in their early twenties are on view. San Miguel beers are 60% of the equivalent price of Tigers back in Shanghai. Dave was right: leaving Asia without visiting Manila would be totally bad judgement; in fact, downright disrespectful.
At about my third beer, the manager starts chatting to me, nothing pushy, and quite friendly. I explain what I am doing, what my motivations are, and so on. We get talking about music, and he says; "you can choose what you want".
"Hmm, The Clash?"
"Yes, I have lots"
Please open up a new tab and search for Bankrobber on YouTube. Then, having watched it, return.
Even though it was over thirty years ago, and I only ever saw it once, the memory of Bankrobber on Top of the Pops is ingrained in my mind. If you are too lazy to open the link, I'll explain for you:
Two years on from the Nationwide piece, The Clash stuck to their promise of not appearing on Top of the Pops. This meant, that when Bankrobber hit the charts, the song was played on the show, accompanied by Legs and Co. Half the dancers inside a cage, as prisoners, half outside as police officers. Would this work in 2013? Probably not.
So, to summarise my situation:
I'm drinking beer much better than I can readily get back home. Fact.
I'm drinking beer much cheaper than I can get back home. Fact.
I'm watching some of the prettiest girls I have ever seen, dancing, with few clothes on. Fact.
I'm getting to choose my own music. Fact.
I have just invented a fetish for my favourite, band, The Clash, that previously didn't exist. Maybe.
The phrase "Cover me in honey and feed me to the nymphos" springs to mind.
So, the question for YOU is: Did I barfine a girl that night?