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Sleuth 08/10/2010

Office fantasies, Nick Hancock, mad mayor, red light in the NQ, crazy contractors

Published on October 18th 2010.


Sleuth 08/10/2010

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.

Pieman in the Potteries
Sleuth's buddy and ex-City Life editor Luke Bainbridge was on a writing assignment for the Guardian in Stoke on Trent. They'd booked him into the Holiday Inn on the edge of the town. One evening he went to the restaurant and perused the menu. Only one item looked acceptable. "The steak and ale pie please," said Luke, "what does it come with?" There was a brief pause while the young waiting person stared at him. "It comes with pastry," came the eventual reply in full Stoke accent.

Office fantasies
The Production Team at Confidential have put a bird feeder out of the office window. This probably contravenes some Spinningfields' lease agreement but they’ve had some luck with sparrows. Young Sam of the team was surprised, “I thought it’d be too high (he really did say that) and hard to find for the birds.” “Hard to find?” said Sleuth. “Of course they’ll find it. The only things birds are interested in is food and fornication.” Rambo, commercial director, slipped off into a reverie, “Food and fornication, ooh, I could do with a week of that,” she said dreamily, shifting in her seat.

Sloth and mad contractors
Sleuth’s favourite silliness of the week involves council contractors. Residents on Gibson Avenue in Abbey Hey, Manchester, have complained after contractors resurfaced around six plant pots rather than moving them and doing the job properly. As Lib Dem Councillor Wendy Helsby said: "This is an example of either laziness or incompetence. The pavement has been in dire need of re-surfacing for some time. If the residents had been informed of the work then they would have moved the pots.” The pots have been on Gibson Avenue for many years after residents, proud of their area, entered Britain in Bloom. Sloth is one of the more interesting of the Seven Deadly Sins thinks Sleuth.

Bad timing
Sleuth was taking a guided tour of Confidential readers around the Northern Quarter ghostly bits a couple of weeks ago. They went down Back Piccadilly for some horror filled stories. They then turned into Little Lever Street. “This place called Bentley’s,” said Sleuth in passing and indicating a basement venue, “is a knocking shop, a proper den of iniquity.” “Is it really?” said several people in the large group; at which point a young Asian chappie appeared out from the stairs and seemed rather surprised to find an audience of 25 people or so staring at him. “How was it for you?” said Sleuth cheerily giving the alarmed lad a wink as he shuffled off into the night.

Tough games
Sleuth was watching his ten year old in a game in the South Manchester League football divisions. One of his son’s team mates is called Abel. After a while he realised that one of the players on the other team was called Cain. At one point Abel tackled Cain, fortunately this merely resulted in a throwing for the home team. Not fratricide, Sleuth was relieved to see.

Muirhead and barriers to development
Serious one this. Sleuth had a word with Geoff Muirhead, the recently retired boss of Manchester Airport, a couple of weeks ago. It was interesting, especially about how tiny protests can create a big problem. “I’m concerned that the right to protest gets in the way of wealth creating enterprise. In early 1938 the chief pilot of KLM complained about Barton Aerodrome as being unsuitable. By July of the same year the Council had decided to build Ringway, in December there was an enquiry, 13 months later permission was granted and work started. The enquiry into Terminal Five at Heathrow took longer than WW1. I find it frustrating that people with a grievance can now hold up important projects for years. Especially when it’s just a few people making a big noise. We had fifty environmental protesters here a few weeks ago. When the A380 landed (click here) we had 14,000 people come to see it. People are entitled to their opinion, but they shouldn’t be a barrier to progress, and prevent development for others indefinitely.”

Chilli pain, voucher gain
Sleuth hears that the chilli eating contest at the Food and Drink Festival in Albert Square was fun. One lad who came third (and won a £3 chilli plant) split the crowd by wearing a City shirt, while the man who came first and won £50 of vouchers to spend in the Festival Village accepted his award and then promptly vomited in a handy bucket on the stage. Another lad had been pushed to perform by his dad. Halfway through the latter called out, “he’s rubbish, he’ll never win.” “That’s nice,” said the compere to the teenager, “I bet you know Childline’s number.” At which point the lad said yes and reeled off the correct digits.

“Howzat!”
Lancashire County Cricket Club held its end-of-season presentation dinner recently, hosted by Nick Hancock, host of TV sports quiz show They Think It’s All Over. Traditionally, cricket clubs hand out a juicy prize for the deed considered to be the season’s Champagne Moment, and the recipient of the award for 2010 was Red Rose wicket-keeper Gareth Cross, who won a Twenty20 Cup clash for Lancs against Warwickshire with an impressive innings. The club duly commissioned a cut-glass trophy for Cross to give pride of place in his living room. Alas, the trophy will never cross the Cross threshold - just as he picked it up, his hand slipped and the trophy shattered onto the floor into a million pieces - They Think It’s All Over? It is now.

Dear Chorlton, please don’t pander to stereotype
After the Conservatives announced this week that they were cutting child benefit for higher earners, the Guardian surveyed the nation looking for the perfect place to find some affronted middle class. They chose Chorlton in Manchester. Of course they did. And the suburb didn’t let them down. Journalist, Helen Carter, found ‘simmering anger among the parents as they considered the announcement’ – click here. Sleuth finds middle class whinging less attractive than falling face first into an open sewer. Oh ladies of Chorlton, you should have thought twice before giving the hack this perfect ammunition.

Novel Mayor - an inspiration for others?
Sleuth was in Iceland last week. He was intrigued by the Mayor of Reykjavik, Jon Gnarr. In a country angry with its politicians and bankers over an economic collapse which makes the UK’s problems look like small beer Gnarr was elected this year as a proper protest vote. He’s a comedian and got in on a ticket of giving his mates all the best jobs, creaming off money for himself and getting a polar bear for the zoo – because his party, ‘the Best Party’, fancied one. Satire you see. He was surprised to find himself elected and now is working hard for the city apparently, trying to take it seriously.

He has lapses though. Recently a French newsagency AFP asked him what he used the internet for. “Porn,” he answered immediately. Oops “I was only joking,” said Gnarr later and pointed out that straight after uttering the word, he specifically stated that he was joking, and proceeded to tell the reporter that the web sites he visited the most were Facebook and Google. That bit wasn‘t included in the interview. Quelle surprise, as the French might say. Still, thinks Sleuth, Gnarr certainly makes politics interesting. Sleuth‘s thinking of having a word with our Lord Mayor, Councillor Mark Hackett, get him to spice things up.

Gnarr, the interesting Mayor


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Sleuth recommends: Popup Gallery
Sleuth loves the Dimelow and Mitchell exhibition hosted by Confidential writer, Phil Griffin, a man known far and wide as an arbiter of taste in arts and architecture in the North. “The idea for Popup Gallery is simple,” he says. “This is an empty commercial unit owned by Ian Simpson Architects in Knott Mill. There’s not much market for commercial lets in Manchester, or anywhere much at present, so I suggested I curate a few exhibitions and give it use. It’s not a unique idea of course but putting art in here is a good use of the space, and helps artists get work sold.”

This time he’s chosen Neil Dimelow and Jackie Mitchell, who produce memorable but very different work. Have a look below. Sleuth loves the Dimelow stuff, line drawings of the city based on the series of Mahler concerts performed this year by the Halle Orchestra. Mitchell’s stuff is powerful too, big bold colourful images. Neil Dimelow is a fully qualified architect, Jackie Mitchell’s an artist who’s married to another artist, Bruce Mitchell, the celebrated drummer of Durutti Column.

Sleuth hears that there’s a viewing at the Gallery this Saturday. The address is 6 Riverside Mews, 4 Commercial Street, Knott Mill, Manchester, M15 4RQ. 0161 236 7522. 2pm to 5pm. Get down, get some art.

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

Piers MorganOctober 8th 2010.

Can we have Chorlton raised to the ground, starting with that paint your own pottery place? We could have all those middle class Mothers rounded up and put to work in a Mill somewhere, the children could be sent up chimneys. Yes, I read the Guardian piece. What a lazy piece of reporting that one was. If they all had to walk to the Mill by the way, they will thank you in the end as their arses will shrink.

SleuthOctober 8th 2010.

Don't be daft Piers. Chorlton's a cracking place, great bars, great food shops, nice walks by the Mersey, it's just that this article in the Guardian makes some residents seem so mealy mouthed.

Art AttackOctober 8th 2010.

I love the Popup Gallery idea. I saw the sign for it at the gates of the mill a few weeks ago, but couldn't find anything about it on the 'net. How long will the show last? I'm busy tomorrow! BOO!

AnonymousOctober 8th 2010.

Pastry. Funny

AnonymousOctober 8th 2010.

And the plant pots

AnonymousOctober 8th 2010.

City Shirt Guy came second in the Chilli contest and was looking likely to win it up until the very last second when he could take no more. And according to the rules being sick should have disqualified the other guy. It was good watching though, City Shirt Guy was like a machine, he just did the whole chilli in one mouthful every round

SALFORDARTISTOctober 8th 2010.

This article reminded me of my dads jokes. How was it for you mate?? made me cringe.

Alot of jipping of middle class people on here, funny as I have read reams of snooty articles on this site, I suppose being a food critic is a well known working class trade though isnt it.

johnboyOctober 8th 2010.

Piers, 'raising' Chorlton to the ground doesn't quite have the same attraction as 'razing' Chorlton to the ground. Perhaps there's an 'upwardly mobile' connotation that I've missed.

AnonymousOctober 8th 2010.

Thought the notion of good journalism was to challange stereotypes not pander to them. You are heading towards Daily Mail territory with your continuous casual abuse of Chorlton,anyone who lives there. Raise your game Confidential, or piss off and write for the tabloids.

Suzanne AckermanOctober 8th 2010.

Did you notice when you click on the link to read the article it shows the Guardian best selling books? Check out no. 2!

chilli boys mumOctober 8th 2010.

My son is in the combat jacket in the picture and he was in real agony so we encouraged him to leave the stage (he had been ill all week) I think the spectators suffered along with the contestants (well, I did) and fair play to the lot of them. Being sick shouldnt disqualify any of them, if it did then they would have all been disqualified!!

WoksmugglerOctober 8th 2010.

Totally agree with Anon of 13:56:09. Your continual casual abuse of Chorlton (i.e. "cracking place, great bars, great food shops, nice walks by the Mersey") really does go to far. I would, however, like to suggest that the aforesaid Anon go away and read the tabloids, where his/her lack of intelligence would no doubt make him/her feel at home, and leave the rest of us to enjoy the whimsey of ManCon.

AnonymousOctober 16th 2010.

I see from the Office of National Statistics recent effusion on average Britons that if Mrs Average was partnered by Mr Average they would earn £50000 between them. Maybe they are all just average in Chorlton.

I'm sure Sleuth and Lady Sleuth is not average at all but above or below the salt at MFW dinner?

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