Duke of York at the Queen Vic
Weekend Diary March 3 2012
P.G: This column includes references to sex and underwear
Taking a break from pseudo royalty down in Pattaya the 'Flying Sporran' has this week been on the trail of some real royalty, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, or 'Air Miles Andy' as he is dubbed by the British press.
He has apparently been doing some stirring work promoting recession-hit Britain and I was called upon again by the British press to cover the Duke's visit to Thailand and the good work he is doing promoting U.K. Limited.
No that's laying it on a bit thick. Any British journalist covering the Duke of York is probably on a 'lads watch' despite the Prince's age. In many ways he has been a walking disaster area for the P.R. team at the Palace. You only have to read the latest piece in 'Vanity Fair' magazine to see what they have had to deal with.
So when I am told to watch Andy, it's not probably primarily to write stories about his dedicated work to help British trade.
But on this visit he really was rushing all over the place and dare I say it, even being overworked. The British press however wants to know if he will make one of his famous breaks for it, though its an unspoken request.
At once stage Ambassador Asif Ahmad was furiously tweeting the Duke's progress. As it turned out the romantic Prince was apparently far too busy to slip out to meet any Thai or luk-krung floozies, as he appears to have done in the past.
Actually a lot of this visit was private. So there were no pens for journalists (the type you keep sheep in, not the writing type)
In fact a bus for journalists in his nine car entourage to attend his meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrived totally empty.
The British newspapers fawned over the beauty of Yingluck, especially the Daily Mail. But the comments underneath took on a ThaiVisa.com hue.
'Where's the back door?' (The Duke of York seems to be laughing like Edward Heath in this picture)
There has been a good result from Thailand in Britain. Thailand appears to have saved Britain's steel industry. The old British Steel plant in Redcar, Cleveland* is being re-opened, and even a Welsh coal pit has been re-opened to fuel it.
Thailand's SSI has bought the plant outright and owns 100% per cent of the company in Britain. Of course its a shame that the Duke of York does not have his historic powers and thus be able to order the hang, drawing and quartering of those who brought the plant to a closure in the first place.
Thailand has put cash into Britain and the Duke of York told Yingluck that the UK wants more Thai investors.
In turn he might have said that U.K. Ltd, with the help of a couple of American republicans, is the single biggest investor in Bangkok's night life and sex industry and now runs pretty much ALL the major venues attended by foreigners in Silom and Sukhumvit.... and even controls the short time rooms, CCTV's, price of beer, which bank can have an ATM nearby one of its establishments, and even the underwear, or lack of it, the ladies wear in its more exotic bars....but I understand this was not in his briefing and he certainy did not check out Britain's latest investments.
On his last day, the Duke of York travelled down to the Eastern Seaboard to visit among other things a 'Strepsil' factory. As it was a private meeting there were no Strepsil photo ops, apart from this one.
He was also due to meet members of the British Legion - a club for ex-servicemen.
(I love British Legion Clubs. They are all over the Highlands of Scotland as well and seem to have their own special opening hours. I remember witnessing a great fight in the Royal British Legion in Fort Augustus on Loch Ness many years ago. I escaped with just one black eye and was taken to a bothy to recover by a lovely highland lass called Morag.)
Anyway, I day dream. The British Legion on the Eastern Seaboard of Thailand meets in a pub in Pattaya called 'Tropical Bert's'. This pub has not yet been bought by any 'boiler room' like another 'tropically' named pub but it is within twenty yards of Beach Road, Soi 6 - Soi Yodsak - probably the most famous street of, er, 'short time' bars in Thailand and home to the Queen Vic.
The Embassy said the Duke was going to visit the Legionnaires in the 'Queen Vic'. Well as they mentioned the eastern seaboard in the first sentence how was I to know it was the Embassy social club 'Queen Vic' in Bangkok?
Early this morning I reported that the Duke had left Thailand. I physically did not see him go, but trust the Embassy on this one as diplomats do not lie.
I think I have had my day with Royal Tours now. I did Princess Anne's 'Save the Children' trip of Thailand, Laos and Burma way back when. Then for Channel 4's the Media Show I presented a programme called the 'Royal Rat Pack' and became poacher turned game keeper filming the hack on the visit of Princess Chares and Di in the early 90s.
I have come across Prince Andrew many times over the years, once even anchored off the Amanpuri in Phuket on a US$1500 a day rented launch. (Probably US$5000 a day now about the same as renting a jet-ski for an hour).
On the trail of the Duke. Looking in the wrong direction while the Duke is reported to sunbathing on his bigger boat with lots of topless beauties.
Perhaps that's why I have not been getting any invites from the Embassy recently? Well, I have, but they always reach me after the event. So if anybody at the Embassy reads this, please send any invites to the home address you have for me not the one I reserve for terrorists.
I would have loved to have said good-bye to the last Deputy Head of Mission, Daniel Pruce.
Main pictures: Andrew Chant
* FICO Corporation which owns Nana Entertainment Plaza was severely damaged by fire yesterday. However a management spokesman said Fico Tower in Asoke, Bangkok was fully insured.
Fico Corporation has entered into a management deal with the British directed Eclipse Restaurants to run Nana Plaza from July. Management are promising a revamp of the Plaza, new signage, refurbished elevators, higher rents, a new escalator on the north side of the square, to encourage clockwise movement of customers and easier access to high end bars held American owned Strategic Holdings. Talks are being held with former lawyer Briton Steve Dimpsey, aka David Walsh, aka David Walls of the Crown Group, to upgrade his bars.
A management spokesman said: 'Rents would be altered to a realistic level, but prices will be determined by the market and take into account prices in Soi Cowboy.'
Talks are also being held with Iranian and British owners running a series of bars in Soi Cowboy and the Plaza to determine a common poilicy.
Gone will be the 59 baht beers offered by one bar. No discounts for pensioners with a bus pass.
The latest move follows recent buy-ups of 'The Eden Club' and 'Bangok Beat' in Sukhumvit 7/1, Baccarat underwear challenged bars in Soi Cowboy and Pattaya,and a bar in Queens Park Plaza which are now all under an invisible umbrella which covers, Molly Malones (Convent) the Coyote chain of restaurants, the Australian, Soi 8 Pub, Scruffy Murphy's in Patong, Phuket, and various other venues in Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and the United States.
'Hoots mon! - you mean I cannae get a 'hauf and a hauf' noo for under a fiver!'