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Sleuth 01/06/07

Ithaca launch (maybe), congestion in Manchester and indigestion with Shaun Ryder. Oh, Andy Spinoza gets lashed.

Published on June 1st 2007.

Sleuth 01/06/07

In two minds
Sir Howard Bernstein and Sir Richard Leese: Sleuth wonders when two knights of the realm last ruled the roost in Manchester and during a Labour Council at that? Sleuth also appreciates they are big enough to change their minds. A politician, politicial animal, or indeed anyone, who tries to be consistent over a period of years is plain stupid – situations change. Sleuth, recalls an interview with Sir Howard Bernstein, conducted just as Ken Livingstone was introducing congestion charging in London. Asked whether Manchester would ever contemplate a similar measure, Sir Howard, looked your favourite P.I. in the eye, and said fiercely, “Over my dead body”. Now of course Manchester and Sir Howard think differently - now there’s a multi-million pound package of other benefits coming the city’s way. Realpolitik as the Soviets used to say. Oh and doesn’t that Sir Richard Leese come to work on a bike?

Congested Dumplington
Although congestion charging has been provisionally accepted as a good idea by many of the councils of Greater Manchester, one big player is dead against it. At a recent press gathering Sleuth learns that Gordon McKinnon, director of operations at the Traffic Centre, was animated in his condemnation of the idea. The way congestion charging would work in Greater Manchester would be to place charges around ‘hotspots’ across the conurbation. The extended and prolonged traffic jam around the Traffic Centre would be just such a ‘hotspot’. Gordon doesn’t like this as it might stop all the Scousers coming over and shopping there– what would they do with all the brighter, tighter-fitting clothes if that happened? He’s right to worry though, the big environmental picture part of congestion charging, reducing car journeys, would hit the Traffic Centre harder than anybody.

Build it up
Sir Richard Leese was with Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, at the launch of the splendid Civil Justice Centre at Spinningfields this week – as reported elsewhere on this site. There were lots of the great and good there and lots of free champagne – two entirely unrelated events Sleuth is sure. Sir Richard Leese made a nice speech about choosing the right architects to work with, in this case Aussie practice Denton Corker Marshall, who on the back of this project are now working on three other buildings in the city centre and are opening a Manchester office. In a warning to other architects, Sir Richard remarked about the Civil Justice Centre, “This was an easy choice, as it was the only one that complied with the brief.” If the city is so fastidious about such things, Sleuth wonders what on earth the original briefs for Urbis and the concrete wall/bunker/piece of rubbish in Piccadilly Gardens were?

Shaun Ryder: gastronome
Sleuth was recently asked about the leap of imagination in his writing and hopes it was meant kindly. The Observer Food Monthly had an extraordinary leap of imagination on Sunday when it got Manchester’s Shaun Ryder to unravel his thoughts on Chinese food in Britain and culinary excellence in general. This was akin to asking the Pope if he prefers extra-ribbed condoms or ticklers. The article was so foolishly fun and utterly irrelevant to food that Sleuth has enjoyed stealing the following quotes.

“A few years ago, I did get into making smoothies to get my fruit. I was putting in every fruit you could think of because it was healthy, but doing it with a large bottle of vodka.”

“At sixteen I took my girlfriend out to a restaurant and ordered prawns. I just ate the prawns with the shells on. The waiter was looking at me as though I was an alien, and I’m thinking, ‘These are fucking minging’. The girl didn’t say ‘owt because she was as backward as I was.”

“You are what you eat. I was a pie for a long time.”

“We used to take our own catering on tour with us. You get bands that put on special requests on their rider, special food, but for us it was just panloads of weed, coke and skag.’

The lucky venue for this distinguished culinary discussion was Lotus Bar on King Street. Oh how the folk at the Yang Sing, the Lotus owners, must have loved it. The whole piece was just like being recommended by well, er… Shaun Ryder.

Zimmer framed
Sleuth, after the Civil Justice Launch in Spinninfields, tootled across to the Lowry Hotel with Manchester’s greatest living PR man, Andy Spinoza, to join Gordo in sampling the new menu. Sleuth was particularly enamoured with the squab pigeon. With the head chef, Eyck Zimmer, wandering in to sit with us and visitations from Tom Bloxham it was a jolly gathering. Gordo and Sleuth after the third bottle of wine got sentimental over Eyck Zimmer (our PR man was getting sentimental about how this was his first night out in 2007 – Sleuth spreads happiness). Gordo and Sleuth are worried that Zimmer’s cuisine isn’t getting the recognition or custom it deserves: it’s Michelin-star stuff and we never want him to leave. “You’re brilliant, we love you, Eyck,” Gordo and Sleuth slurred to the German food magician over and over again. He eyed us coolly for a while and said, “maybe you have enjoyed the wine a little too much tonight gentlemen.” Perhaps true, by this time Mr Spinoza was slumping into his pudding, Sleuth was gently humming nursery rhymes and Gordo was sneaking round the tables trying to steal other people’s food.

Eyck Zimmer turns the other cheek

Gordo and Tom Bloxham worse for wear at The Lowry

The epic of Ithaca draws to a close
Finally, at last, eventually, the only bar to take on the Roman Catholic Church is set to open. Ithaca on John Dalton Street, which was in dispute over licensing hours with priest and neighbour Canon Clinch (with that name it’s a shame the Inquisition was disbanded) opens in July. Arnie Hira, owner of the bar, which has cost the unbelievable amount of £4m to prepare, told Sleuth, “Ithaca has been a long time in the planning and a lot of investment has taken place because I wanted the best of everything.” A long time? Too bloody right. Hira previously owned the ill-fated Odyssey in Altrincham, the whitest bar in the world and the only one to give Sleuth snow-blindness. Ithaca? Odyssey? Sleuth, an occasional classical scholar detects a theme. Odysseus lived on Ithaca and after the Trojan War it took him ten years, to get back home. Given the saga over the opening of this bar it seems Arnie’s taken things a bit literally.

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

GordoJune 1st 2007.

Arnie, surely "High Society Restaurant With a BAR", eh, me old son? Sack that PR Company for chrissakes!

GordoJune 1st 2007.

Good dinner that at the Lowry. Gordo was well pleased. The service needs a mention, class.

KellyJune 1st 2007.

Shaun Ryder...bless.

SleuthJune 1st 2007.

Maggie, you're right. I humbly apologise.

GillesJune 1st 2007.

Apologies too Maggie. Shooting fish in a barrel is a solo sport and no fun for you. Hmmm, leave my ego at home? Is that possible for a male?

Arnie S HiraJune 1st 2007.

Gordo your a nob! But I still love ya! PS: Restauarant with a bar, please!!! Get it right! -) x

SleuthJune 1st 2007.

Anne-Marie wins the brightness award. Traffic Centre is a joke folks. Join in wouldn't you? Bo, realpolitik was used by the Soviet Union and its leaders at various times (although not as much as by Mrs Soviet in Crumpsall). As for historical knowledge Sleuth would love to meet in a pub and debate it all. As for the typos Sleuth has no idae wot you meen.

HenryJune 1st 2007.

Manchester inconsequential?

Anne-MarieJune 1st 2007.

Lol have neither of you realised that the misnomer "Traffic Centre" is more likely an affectionate (or not so) nickname that happens to be very approriate? I know there are some howlers on here but I think that was intentional. Especially as it appears twice.

BertieJune 1st 2007.

Think you had the A team on at the Lowry. Usually service is abysmal there. Or perhaps the presence of so much money (and more after-shave) stopped the usual Slavic superiority of their waiting staff. Eyck's great though. When he's cooking.

SleuthJune 1st 2007.

Gilles, you're right of course about realpolitik and Bismarck, but Sleuth never meant those Soviets, he meant the Soviet family from Crumpsall, Mrs Soviet in particular, who was always going on about realpolitik. Thanks all the same though.

secret squirrelJune 1st 2007.

Ithaca...perhaps it should be renamed Panglossia..SS

Shaun RyderJune 1st 2007.

Eh, dont take the piss man.Dont be no bojangles! Stop twisting my melon man, i invented the toaster by mistake.

GillesJune 1st 2007.

Woodsy, I suspect they don't have a subeditor. At least, given the number of factual and grammatical inaccuracies, I hope not! In The eighties, The Guardian became endearingly known as The Grauniad on account of its errors. What should we call dear old Manc Conf? Suggestions please.

maggieJune 1st 2007.

Can't you two take your egos outside?

GillesJune 1st 2007.

Yes, silly me, Sleuth. Of course you meant the Soviets of Crumpsall. I see it now. I'm sure all your readers realised that too. I should have realised you're not the type to make squeamishly, embarrassing errors about history. You're clearly a most learned man. Afterall, you're an occasional classical scholar. Most impressive. Again, apologies, and keep up the good work.

CliveJune 1st 2007.

What - so you don't eat prawns with their shells on?

maggieJune 1st 2007.

Though if you promise not to bring your ego I'll definitely take you up on that Cape Town offer Gilles.

maggieJune 1st 2007.

Well at least you're honest Gilles, how refreshing.

BertieJune 1st 2007.

By the way, is it just me, or is Bloxham the spitting image of Simon Pegg? Only less funny presumably (actually, looking at New ISlington I'm not so sure).

maggieJune 1st 2007.

I'm no political historian but surely communism and realpolitik are at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum?

BoJune 1st 2007.

more like manchester incomprehensible

GillesJune 1st 2007.

'Realpolitik as the Soviets used to say'. No they didn't. Ever. It's a German word, coined by a German and practised most notably by Bismarck. Sleuth clearly failed GCSE History. Unsurprisingly.

GillesJune 1st 2007.

Anne-Marie, you're spot on: they were intentional but how was Woodsy meant to know when there's so many? Don't get me wrong: I love it. Who wouldn't prefer Manc Conf's amateurish enthusiasm to the arid professionalism of 'proper' websites?And where else would you get such a triumph of pretension over knowledge as 'realpolitik as the Soviets used to say'? It puts Alan Partridge in the shade. I hope they keep up the bad work, as it were!

WoodsyJune 1st 2007.

Come on Ed, TRAFFIC CENTRE? Dont you mean TRAFFORD CENTRE. Some one shoot the sub ed.

GillesJune 1st 2007.

Readers, don't be fooled by such self-serving deception. Unless silly Sleuth provides proof that it was an idea used in the Soviet Union - he can't - then just take this as yet more weasel-worded bluster. I'm forming a picture of the man behind the cartoon mac. Fragile ego: ergo, you're male. Inability to admit errors, ergo you're a bore. Absence of facts to ever prove your points, ergo you're not very bright. Oh yes, I can't think of anything better than meeting you a pub. It will be an absolute hoot. There's a lovely bar I know in Cape Town: tomorrow at two?

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