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Sleuth 03/12/2010

Stuart Hall discovers Egyptian hoard, Batmobile, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Police’s £120 cards, institutionalised permanent panic

Published on December 3rd 2010.

Sleuth 03/12/2010

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.

The Alchemist
Sleuth went for a pleasant lunch at The Alchemist, the new place in Spinningfields. Full review to follow but it’s a handsome venue with high ceilings, big windows, cracking bar and permanent outdoor seating. Gordo and Rambo were along for the ride and with steak sandwiches, lollipop prawns, tomato and basil soup, cocktails and wine, a grand time was had. As usual for a Tim Bacon venue the service was outstanding. Spinningfields at last has a destination evening venue.

The banker
Sleuth loved that The Alchemist shares space with a vast office for Barclays Corporate banking. An alchemist was a person who attempted to transform base materials such as iron into gold. Barclays Corporate attempt to do the same with other people’s money.

King HallCarterkhamum
In the review of the excellent KingTut exhibition (click here) at the Museum of Museums at the Trafford Centre, Confidential had criticised the voice-over of the tomb discoverer Howard Carter for its wayward English accent – it was sometimes Irish and sometimes American. We got this back from the organisers: ‘We are aware of this mistake and just last week Stuart Hall (the famous British broadcaster) recorded a new Carter voiceover, which will go live in Manchester within the next few days.’

Sleuth smiled at that. He imagines the recording session with the wordy Mr Hall to have gone something like this….

Stuart Hall: “In the chamber I can see a splendiferous assemblage of glistening gold, a gaudy eye-popping concatenation of rareties, a stunning coruscation of gemstones, a veritable Big Bang of illumination. As the Bard said: ‘ It beggar'd all description —cloth of gold, of tissue— The fancy outwork nature.’ Resplendent in...”

Producer: “Er...Stuart.”?

Stuart Hall: “Yes, you effervescent flower of delight?”

Producer: “Could you stick to the script please?”

Sleuth’s ‘call that a knife’ moment of the week
Sleuth’s been taking readers under the undercroft of Barton Arcade over the last two weeks. Great fun too. On one tour Sleuth said ‘Don’t worry I’ve got a torch for use down there," and produced a small but very powerful torch. A gentleman who’d come in from Warrington looked at Sleuth’s modest beamer and in a Crocodile Dundee moment said, “Call that a torch.” Then he produced his monster of a portable stadium floodlight.

Sleuth’s food of the week
Sleuth was looking through a book on 100 years of United playing at Old Trafford. He loved the massive sign that hung over the stand at the Warwick Road (now Sir Matt Busby Way) end of the ground on a picture from 1949. ‘Kilverts’ pure lard’ it announces. Forget prawn sandwiches or the chicken and pasta diets of the modern player. Pure lard. Lovely.

Sleuth’s favourite non-customer service
Sleuth banks at the Co-op. In there recently he saw a coffee machine right in the public area, nice idea, Sleuth is a happy customer. Sleuth gets closer. Sleuth reads the notice. Sleuth sees all the bank staff are busy. Sleuth is an unhappy customer. Funny how these things can backfire.

Customer Service to customer irritation

Jack Shallow gets Spaghetti
Sleuth’s mate Captain Jack Shallow rang Sleuth a little too gluhweined the other day. “Sleuth, my old gondolier, been at the Christmas markets all day and now need a full meal rather than the meaty sex-toy shaped sausages here,” he said slurring. “Well....” started Sleuth. “I was thinking,” interrupted Captain Jack, “of that new place, at Kendal’s, Spaghetti or something.” “You mean Cicchetti,” said Sleuth. “Same difference,” said Monsieur Shallow. Spaghetti. Perfect. Sleuth thinks his drinking chum has cracked it. If you find the name of the new restaurant difficult to remember just think of the word spaghetti. Easy.

Pedersen, reindeer and one more goal?
Sleuth was in Spaghetti Cicchetti with Ms Allan and Senor Nellis Von Sowerby when in walked Morten Gamst Pedersen of Norway and Blackburn Rovers – the gentleman of football. Marcello Distefano, heir apparent to the San Carlo empire, joined in as well. Distefano and Pedersen are going reindeer hunting later this winter. They’d also both been present at United’s 7-1 demolition of Blackburn at the weekend. Pedersen was injured and watched from the stands. “Would it have been different if you’d played?” Distefano had asked. “Maybe it would have been 7-2,” Pedersen had replied uncertainly.

Car maketh man?
As Sleuth left Cicchetti El Hadji Diouf, also of Blackburn Rovers, was getting out of his batmobile over the road. And who said football players couldn’t be modest, unassuming, tasteful characters?

Snowball head for elevation?
Sleuth’s impressed with the headmaster of his son’s primary school. As the snow fell on Thursday instead of locking the kids inside as some fool teachers have done he went out and had a snowball fight with the kids. Get him running the education system thinks Sleuth, send all the worrying anxious teachers out of the class, make the risk assessors wear dunces’ caps.

Institutionalised permanent panic
Sleuth was almost knocked over by a group of police on Wednesday. They were running round the Town Hall to make sure protesting Manchester students didn’t do anything untoward. Sleuth has been musing a lot recently about how the constabulary seems to be becoming more aggressive nationally. Sleuth thinks the health and safety culture mentioned in the story above and the increasing use of digital media might be to blame. Instead of these things making everything more open, accountable and safe it has led civil authorities and the like to rigidly follow the rulebook and procedure rather than reacting to the situation on the ground. Sleuth has coined a phrase for this: institutionalised permanent panic - everything that can improbably go wrong will be assumed to be definitely probable. It's not a healthy situation thinks Sleuth.

On the cards
Speaking of policing Sleuth thinks that the Greater Manchester Police campaign of sending Christmas cards to criminals to appeal to their better nature is interesting. Or bonkers. The card says: ‘Don’t be a pudding this year. Stay out of trouble to stay out of prison’. Sleuth reckons this is one instance where the police could legitimately be a tad more aggressive. Something like ‘Rob anyone this Christmas you little s%$* and we’ll bang you away for a very very long time.’ That would be better - student protests are welcome, burglars are not.

£120 campaign – is it relevant?
Sleuth called the Police Public Relations people over the above story and got a rather brusque spokesman who obviously thought we were after giving them a kicking. “Could you let me know how much this campaign cost please?” asked Sleuth. “£120, for 1200 cards, is that really relevant?” The man's tone of indignation annoyed Sleuth. When the fourth estate (the media dear folks) come a-calling public servants owe it to us to tell us exactly how much they are spending in our name - especially on campaigns which are a bit bobbins like this and are really only for PR and not for any real effect.

Sleuth’s mis-text of the week
Here’s a picture of Sleuth’s favourite random text this week. Sleuth doesn’t recognise the number and has no connection with Darlington. He loves inexplicable communications.

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

Eddy RheadDecember 3rd 2010.

Love that picture of Old Trafford. Anyone know what the two large buildings are in the background were (both long gone?) The furthest one seems to be a quite imposing church.

Jonathan Schofield - editorDecember 3rd 2010.

Eddy I have an aerial picture from roughly the same time of the area shown in the picture. All those buildings are industrial of various sorts including he lard processing factory. Email me on jonathans@manchesterconfidential.com and I'll send you it

CheesmanDecember 3rd 2010.

Are those prawns on sticks absolutely massive or is the pretty girl behind really tiny.

AgricolaDecember 3rd 2010.

£120 wasted is still £120 wasted. The cards will not result in anything...except publicity for the Police. Waste of time.

James BrownDecember 3rd 2010.

I was at Cicchetti last night. Good event and the place looks like a winner too. I'll be back tonight.

DibigoDecember 3rd 2010.

Did Diouf need to open both doors to get out of his ugly car?

GordoDecember 3rd 2010.

Those prawns are really good and the 'pretty girl' is a 5'6" pain in the arse when she's on the rampage bollocking people, you wouldn't be calling her pretty then...

Smyth HarperDecember 3rd 2010.

In fairness Sleuth, our bobbies do a great job when compared with some other parts of the country. I had to tramp to a meeting through the students earlier this week and the cops did an brilliant job of not responding to the invective being spat at them by a *small* contingent of the protestors. The cops showed restraint and basically let the students protest in the way they wanted for as long as they wanted (despite the inconvenience it causes to the rest of us). I wouldn't have their patience.

And in fairness to the students here in Manc, haven't they done a much better job of making their point than the yahoos down in London? You don't need to graffiti Nelson's column, light fires in Trafalgar Square and chuck fire extinguishers at cops to get the public on your side. Most of the young people in Manc were clearly angry, but also articulate in an admirable, mature and coherent way. Let's hope they stay that way if the protests continue. Although many of them still need a haircut.

I think the pudding stunt is alright. Rather than taking the piss, did you ask the police what their rationale was, if they've done it before and if so what the benefits of doing it are? Hmmm, thought not.

Finally, I work in PR and, believe me, the cost of having to deal with the whim-based inquiries of the fourth estate is considerably more expensive than a cheap card being sent to criminals telling them the cops have their eye on them...

DibigoDecember 3rd 2010.

I'm surprised GMP's press and publicity dept even gave you the time of day. I can imagine the scene in their office after the phone call, 'Confidential who?'.

SleuthDecember 3rd 2010.

Actually Sleuth did ask for the rationale Smitty and all he got was 'haven't you read the press release?' The man was very short with me.

Andrew RevansDecember 3rd 2010.

Any chance you could share your aerial photo with us?

Incidentally, there used to be a pub on Brooklands Road called The Woodcourt; it was a huge Edwardian house which had been built by Mr "Lard" Kilvert.

ramboDecember 3rd 2010.

I'm 5'9" actually Gordo. FFS.

HDecember 3rd 2010.

Just scrolling down to correct that calumny Rambo! You are full sized babe!

Jonathan Schofield - editorDecember 4th 2010.

Revaulx, I can't get the picture to upload it's so big. Send an email to jonathans@manchesterconfidential.com and I'll forward it

James11364December 4th 2010.

me thinks Mancon doesn't like the cops and can't ask the right questions. The 'card' . has been done for some years now. Why not ask about the results? And if they won't tell you serve an FOI...

Jonathan Schofield - editorDecember 5th 2010.

Got nothing but admiration for the majority of police but cheap (apparently very cheap tricks) such as this don't seem to serve any purpose. They're a stunt.

GremoliDecember 6th 2010.

What the press officer perhaps should have told you is that after an experiment using treasury money last year and subsequent questioning of approx 20 known criminals with over 3000 crimes committed between them it was discovered that a number of them had been deterred by the cards, worried that the police were keeping tabs on them. By asking the right questions, not just looking for a cheap headline it wasn't difficult to find this out, perhaps I have missed my calling! And, in my humble opinion, if a card stops one criminal from robbing one family this Christmas then that justifies every penny of £120. :)

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