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Sleuth 01/05/2009

Police unmasked, goodbye to Mr Live Arts, Confidential sponsors FC United, new footy ground in East Manchester and lovely conductors

Published on April 30th 2009.


Sleuth 01/05/2009

Sleuth is a sideways glance at the city every week. We give £25 for every story/rumour and piece of absurdity you find for us to print. We ask for the money back if any legal action follows.

Panic on the streets of Manchester
So Sleuth was at a meal the other day. Loads of big wigs, heads of this, that and the other, people in the civil service and the private sector. One of the biggest profile guests told Sleuth, “This swine-flu pandemic is causing a fuss. Apparently Greater Manchester Police have now managed to procure a face mask for each of their officers. They were going to distribute them this week and ask all the officers to wear them.” She paused for effect. “We told them to think that one over again.”

Mr Live Arts, chopped and supported
Many of Manchester’s cultural institutions recently wrote to the editor of the MEN, Paul Horrocks, about redundancies at the paper. They were concerned that the loss of so many jobs may mean a huge reduction in arts coverage especially if the MEN's Mr Live Arts, Kevin Bourke, was to be made redundant. Thus Cornerhouse, the Library Theatre, the Bridgewater Hall, the Lowry and the Royal Exchange sent a letter of support in favour of the man: Bourke also organises the most prestigious MEN event, the Theatre Awards. Sadly on Monday the axe fell and Bourke was given six months notice. Very bad news. Apparently the MEN have said they will still strongly feature the arts. Let’s hope they do, it’s important that the city media keep culture in the forefront of the public eye especially when so much is publically subsidised. Meanwhile some insiders are wondering whether the loss of Bourke puts a question mark over the future of the Theatre Awards.

Match of the Day
Sleuth is full of sympathy over the huge swathe of redundancies which have swept through MEN Media recently. Many staff are understandably unhappy that they appear to be taking the brunt for the ongoing losses being sustained at the Guardian, which historically has been buttressed by the profits of the Guardian Media Group's various regional outposts, primarily MEN Media. Still, in these times of austerity, it's reassuring to see that the Guardian - or "the mothership" as one departing staffer bitterly refers to it - is still spending away quite merrily. The paper was represented at the Champions' League Semi-final first leg match this week at the Nou Camp between Barcelona and Chelsea by at least four - yep four at least - staff writers. A good job first leg matches can't go into extra-time...

"Ooh Madam!" or why you should never look inside a lady's handbag
Sleuth hears there were some unexpected items at the Handbags at Dusk charity event for the Birdhouse Fund recently. The latter charity gives women in desperation in the region a helping hand. Meanwhile Sleuth hears that women collect handbags, stockpile and hoard them like squirrels (as squirrels do with nuts, of course, not handbags). Handbags at Dusk was a clever idea to bring unwanted handbags together in Dukes 92, for other women to buy, with the money raised going to the Birdhouse Fund. It was expected the bags would be empty. One wasn't. It had some interesting contents: make-up and several condoms. Nobody knows who donated this bag, but Sleuth has to commend the lady in question. Make-up and condoms. How very modern, how very practical. A proper night out. Interestingly by the end of the night the bag hadn't sold, but in a subsequent sale the condoms had gone. Snide.

Husbands at a loss
Sleuth thinks that the owner of the bag in the above story might have been in for a shock if: a) her identity had been revealed, b) her partner had found out what happened, c) she said she'd been out with a 'friend' the last time she'd used the bag.

Us, Zouk: we're brilliant we are
So on Monday we joined with the excellent new Indian restaurant Zouk on Chester Street close to the BBC and offered the following: three hundred places at £15, comprising fifty covers across six nights, on a meat or veggie feast usually priced as much as £38. We offered direct payment to Confidential and we sat back and wondered what would happen. What happened was this: we sold all three hundred places. This folks is a start of something beautiful between Confidential, the readers and all those good restaurants out there who want to pack themselves out with discerning foodies, bon viveurs, general good eggs, solid chaps, lovely ladies and one or two real oddballs. We love us we do.

Confidential sponsors FC United plus a song with a point
Manchester Confidential sponsored FC United’s last match of the season last Saturday. We can recognise a ballsy little maverick when we see one. United are the club formed as a breakaway by Manchester United fans sick of the increasing distance placed between club and supporters symbolised by the Glazer takeover. FC United needed to win but could only draw 1-1 with Bradford Park Avenue and thus missed out on a play-off position. There were 3,700 plus fans at Bury’s Gigg Lane to watch and we got a goal, a flare and an on-pitch fight within the first eight minutes. The singing was unbelievable and a lot of the fans were wearing Eric Cantona masks (Gordo is looking beautiful in such a mask below). Sleuth’s favourite song was a version of the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK which went: ‘I am a Mancunian, I am a FC fan/ I know what I want and I know how to get it/ I want to destroy Glaser and Sky/ Cos all I want to be is at FC.’ It was a cracking occasion.

New United to go home?
Three young representatives of Confidential received the match-ball on the pitch, they also got to hold the Johnstone's Paint Trophy as shown here. In the bar there was more chat in the air. FC United have big plans, currently two divisions away from the old fourth division (League Two) of English football they are determined to make it all the way. But they need a home. To this end Sleuth hears that FC United may be getting a ground of their own with an East Manchester address close to where a big cousin of their's came to life in 1878. Apparently these plans are moving on very quickly. This would be a boost for an area that’s seen better times and be a nice little supplement to Manchester City in East Manchester.

Intimate details on the train
Sleuth was coming down from Edinburgh back to Manchester recently. Just outside Oxenholme Station the train halted. The conductor announced over the tannoy that there had been an incident. Then a couple of minutes later he told us it was looking bad. He maintained this exemplary level of communication throughout. Subsequent announcements included, “the police have arrived”, “the coroner is on his way”, “the undertakers are at the scene”. Sleuth wrote to the operator complimenting their conductor. Mind you, Sleuth was a little worried that the conductor might come round to the house, knock on the door, and tell him when the deceased’s funeral was, maybe bring him an invite. Sleuth didn't need that much closure.

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17 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

CubbyApril 30th 2009.

Terrible news about Kevin Bourke. He's been a boon to Manchester and its art venues. How is the MEN going to halt its decline when it gets rid of its best assets?

SleuthApril 30th 2009.

Why are there two of me?

HORROCKS MUST GOApril 30th 2009.

Re. Kevin Bourke one of the many valued people that have been disposed of for no reason other than being good at their job, have a consistent opinion on the arts are not provincial and care about our city.Lets not see the arts develop into a 'Freebie' jaunt for subeditors and the like (no offence to subeditors and the like) who are not food critics not theatre film critics, and basically don't don't have the lifelong vocation in these matters that reviewing deserves.The MEN reviews by their monopoly of the press have a very powerful voice and these reviews can make or break films, restaurants etc. what is needed is a well, judged review and Kevin Bourke with his long association with the arts gave us this. He will be sadly missed along with the various people over the years whose reviews and articles that promoted the city are also missed, how much more can we read about Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. Thank you Deanna!!!After the cutbacks on regional news at Granada and the BBC, yet gain we see the demise and fall of a mouth piece for Manchester and the North West.The MEN continues with its culling process to prop up the Guardian a newspaper that originated in Manchester but has it's feet well and truly glued to London.For how long are the lily livered people in charge of the MEN going to be allowed to continue in their abject mismanagement. The MEN has an all powerful hold on the media in Manchester not from it's quality, but from its bully boy tactics over the years that have rendered it being the only paper and magazine outlet that exists.Surely they must see the folly of their ways that cutting back on well respected journalism is not the way to go. We all no that newspaper circulation is decreasing but rather than throw in the towel and hide behind the banner of loss in advertising revenue, they should be aware that newspapers evolved to give news and act as an outlet for unfairness and stories that gave the guy in the street an outlet, something that the internet proposes but in a haphazard way. (E.g. this rant is probably libelos).When I arrive in any city I buy a newspaper, this enables me to get a flavour of the where I am and what's going on.The MEN at the moment fails on both these levels and it's going to get worse as they cut back on journalists and rely on even more stories that originate elsewhere. This is no way and of no use to a local or indeed any newspaper, and it should stop now.The people at the head of the MEN appear to be clueless in the future and past management of the paper and should resign immediately as this city deserves better.So enough is enough they i.e. the management have had their chance many times so in the words that everyone has heard in the past "I'm Sorry But We'll Have To Let You Go".

marieApril 30th 2009.

If there's anything worse than being made redundant, surley it's having the news splashed about the internet like idle gossip?

SleuthApril 30th 2009.

Of course it is, Sleuth went mad there and will change. And the reason the trophy was there was that Johnstone's paints had given the paint with which to decorate the FC United office. We'll change it.

Pedan-treeApril 30th 2009.

Unibond cup? That's the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in the picture.

MG, BurnageApril 30th 2009.

So ManCon loves "ballsy little mavericks"... how great. Has ManCon ever sponsored a game at Stockport County or Rochdale or Oldham or any other team in the region who could really do with their backing... or does it just support United Lite, who from the size of their crowds are arguably less worth recipients of a Coporate penny than many of the longer established institutions? Despite FC's worthy original intention ideas about new homes and League status will inevitably end up creating yet another club more about results than people. What happens when they reach the League - and play Big Red? Who will the so called "rebels" (with their secret Sky/MUTV subscriptions) support then?

SleuthApril 30th 2009.

Atalanta, if you've said that once....

Dave the waveApril 30th 2009.

Marginson OUT! He wont take us up as he hasnt got the balls or technivcal nouse to get us there. Apparently his team talks are legendary for being unlegendary.OUT OUT OUT OUT!

alApril 30th 2009.

I think it's great that FC united are doing so well and firing through the leagues. It won't be long before huge sponsorships and tv deals start rolling in when they hit the big league........

redfabsApril 30th 2009.

Stuart Forrest you've just hit the nail on the head! Forza FC

Champagne SocialistApril 30th 2009.

The Manchester Evening News and arts coverage? If Manchester is set on positioning itself as England's second city and the apparatchiks in the management (sic) at Guardian Media Group want to be part of that; don't they understand that theatre and the visual arts are vital to a city? I wonder what the Natashas and Bens who move up from London in the much vaunted (certainly by the MEN) BBC relocation will make of paltry arts coverage in favour of wall to wall lifestyle and sucking up to Selfridges. During my trips to that there London I've noticed the Evening Standard covers the arts and even...gosh....has a theatre awards. Can someone send those baboons at GMG to business school? Or pack them off to edit Grazia?

stuart forrest the fc fan from northendenApril 30th 2009.

Dear outragedofm1, I take exception to the scurilous allegations you propose.We are not those of vileous chants, old school prejudices and hatred jealousy and loathing, I am incredibly suprised to hear such off the mark comments from any one with any knowledge of the football club.We are by the people for the people, unlike rangers, we are not the people. We provide a healthy level of banter, we provide an outlet for some of the more creative elements of manchester finest song writers, we provide a fantastic community product, more than can be said of some of the other teams in manchester. Anti-corporate robin-hoods, I love that. Would you mind if I make t-shirts, obv not for profit, bearing this slogan, I think that your succint synopsis is superb. Indeed we are anti-corporate robin-hoods...in my opinion, which should not be interpreted as that of the football club....but we are set out with an aim of making football accessible to all, without the need for an automatic cups scheme taking money from your bank to pay the debt off, without the need for a company buying a 250k box for corporate hospitality, without having to sign up for an MBNA Credit Card just for turning up at the game.We are succeeding in offering a football product that is accessible, affordable, enjoyable and entertaining without the cliched prawn sarnies, middle east or far east investors, without american owners and their ponzi investment schemes and without a huge noose of un-servicable debt around our necks.Perhaps you should look again at the good FC are doing, the charities FC align ourselves with, the manifesto, everything we stand for. And while I concur that sponsorship should be shared with other clubs in the region, this is Manchester Confidential, and the football club is question is FC United of Manchester.Lots of Love, Me in Northenden.

AtalantaApril 30th 2009.

Good grief Sleuth, talk about doppelgängers.

biggins is aceApril 30th 2009.

well done on Mancon for supporting the disabled by managing to find a boy in a blue cardigan who can stand without having any legs is very impressive

outragedofm1April 30th 2009.

How tedious. FC United are a nightmarish outfit, not this plucky little band of anti-corporate robin hoods. It's a team built on hatred, jealousy and loathing - United, the Glazers, Sky, Scousers, firms that dare to sponsor United anyone that's not from Manchester etc etc. Perhaps you've never been to one of their gatherings or fundraisers? I've had the misfortune to. The fans are nutters in the true sense of the word, many of them actually banned from OT, chants vile and some horrible old school predujices. Shame on you MC for tethering your wagon to this outfit, when as the previous poster notes Stockport, Rochdale and Bury would be far more deserving.

AnonymousOctober 11th 2011.

cant believe ManCon is supporting a club made up of thugs, Moston folk have been bullied on facebook pages, tricked into signing petitions door to door, the councillors too have caused a rift here in Moston, with lack of impartiality and have actively used the local press the NE Advertiser and MEN to claim credibility. They have pretty much given them a free media campaign with their outrageously biased reporting from Mike Keegan no less, when, in fact, they have no real track record of community work. Literally thousands dont want this bunch of renegades here on their doorstep aside from the old folks home who will be adjacent to it. foundations built on sand allegations of assault, support letters to planning have been forged with M40 postcodes i could go on, essentially despite the spin this is not really more than a pub darts team outfit, the council have wrongly promised them covenanted land to build a stadium here without proper consultation with locals yet drawn up plans! certain FC members have admitted to daubing reverse graffitti in Moston and surrounding areas too and have been immune from prosecution despite their admission. How? How community spirited is it to expect the council to fund them despite being an "in the red" ie: skint limited company who will end up going down the same old road as any other club? Its like us bailing out the banks why should they get 750k one year and the same the next when frontline services are being cut? Its so bent its unreal, yet they still masquerade as a community club, they have received priority funding over a youth club thats been going over 20 years? How does that happen? The council are happy to tear up Ronald Johnson playing fields which was land gifted by this captain killed on the fields of Flanders to the people of Moston for their dedicated work at his company the Johnson wireworks.....how on earth they think they are still welcome after all their opposition is just hardfaced and arrogant, suits many of the faces in FC. Even Andy Walsh has a criminal record for non payment of poll tax we hear! Oh dear... the many other non family friendly you tube clips say it all........lets hope the council can be shamed into shelving this ridiculous plan before any more money is wasted on this bunch of chancers.

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