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Sleuth 09/07/2010

Friendly northern audiences, Frank tribute suggestion, grass roots problem in Piccadilly and in football

Published on July 9th 2010.

Sleuth 09/07/2010

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.

Why Northern audiences are friendlier: the truth
As revealed in the Food and Drink Round-up Sleuth went to the Harvey Nichols spam show this week (click here) to eat spam to mark the arrival of Spamalot the Monty Python tribute at the Opera House. Jodie Prenger and Simon Lipkin were the stars in attendance. Blackpool girl Prenger said: “it’s nice to be in the North, the audiences are different up here, warmer, friendlier.” Sleuth thought about this. “Isn’t that a bit of a cliché? Are you being sentimental?” he said. “No, it’s true,” said Prenger. “It is,” agreed Lipkin. “You’re a southerner,” said Sleuth to Lipkin, “in what way are the audiences different?” Lipkin paused for thought: “They’ve had more to drink,” he concluded.

Dry and dead
Sleuth was choking on dust. He was lost in a desert with no comforting green to be seen. It was a parched, arid, landscape, devoid of the comfort of life, apart from the odd circling vulture (or maybe pigeon). Sleuth was in Piccadilly Gardens.

Piccadilly burn out
It seems that Piccadilly Garden’s lush lawns have disappeared. Sleuth learns that this is down to some heat, lack of rain, and those annoying things called people using it too much. Three years ago we argued that the grass would always fail unless managed properly – especially in hot weather. We argued that most of Piccadilly Gardens should be hard paved, otherwise we’ll have to waste another £100k-£200k, whatever, re-grassing it after every hot summer. Anyway there’s a full article with the Council response going up on Monday about this.

Sleuth burn out
Sleuth was out every lunch and evening for the last two weeks. He drank the average big Belgian man's yearly intake in alcohol. On Sunday he woke up with pains in his lower back, his voice failing, his vision blurred. “I thought your body was your temple?” said a friend. “It is,” said Sleuth, “one of those Ancient Greek ones, ruined.” “You’ve not been paying attention to those drink responsibly notices, have you?” said the friend. “Nope, I suppose I just love a good binge drink,” confessed Sleuth, “it’s something we well in the UK.”

Sleuth's Body

Football champions
Sleuth thinks How-do, the website magazine that reports on the media doings of the North West is a fine publication. One of the events they manage is the MBNA North West Football Awards taking place on 11 October this year. Sleuth loves this bit in an email this week: ‘World Cup fever has led to a last minute increase in enquiries about the awards, so the deadline for entries has been extended.' ‘Fever?’ thinks Sleuth. As in we’re sick of the underachievement of England? Wonder if Gerard or Rooney will win anything? Pah. However Sleuth thinks it’s wholly appropriate that the awards will take place at Lancashire County Cricket Club. Ah yes cricket, something England are winning at the moment.

The problem with English football is.....
Sleuth has been watching the football debate about the failure of the national team with interest. Sleuth’s son at age twelve spent six weeks being looked at by Manchester United at the Cliff where the Academy is based. He went to watch the training sessions. Coaches stood around as kids tried to show off in front of them, knocking other kids down if they got in the way. “Why isn’t there more time spent on passing and moving - on skills?” asked Sleuth. The coach looked at Sleuth as though he were an idiot: “It’s all about attitude at this stage, we want fighters,” he said. Sleuth was pleased when his child finished the six weeks and got away.

Big are best if not always Best.
Another football scout was going the rounds among the best players of one of the local leagues last season looking for “big players, as one of the North West club Academy teams wants big players to help them compete better.” So true thinks Sleuth, that Xavi and Iniesta in the Spanish team are rubbish, they’re too small ever to make it. Paul Scholes was crap as well. As for Messi.....

The beautiful double –entendre game
Sleuth was playing five-aside recently. One of the opposition players as we all met up before the match looked at Sleuth and said very loudly, “I recognise you. You took me down a tunnel not long ago.” He emphasised all the wrong words and we got strange looks from the assembled players. Sleuth quickly explained that the twenty-something was referring to the Confidential Tunnel Tours, nothing but intimate than that.

Flashing Frank Sidebottom
Sleuth was chatting over how best to commemorate Frank Sidebottom, who had a memorial gig at Castlefield on Thursday – we’ve got a review going up today. Confidential decided any memorial had to be absurd to fit the humour of Frank's creator. Suddenly we had it. A zebra crossing in Timperley should be given Belisha Beacon lights with flashing Frank heads. It'd draw tourists from miles, maybe they could even have Frank’s songs playing from hidden speakers in the beacons. It’d work, honest it would.

Hero high jinks on the Bridgewater Canal
So Sleuth went down the Bridgewater Canal for two hours on Thursday evening. It was a dry night weather wise on a boat called Dry Barge, but that was the only dry thing about it. We had about sixty Confidential Heroes enjoying a free trip and free drink. One of sales team had acquired enough booze for a wedding of three hundred alcoholics and another member of the sales team had acquired enough food for sixty people on a severe fast. The result was entertaining chaos. So thanks to one Hero who really enjoyed herself and sent us this message this morning: 'Just wanted to thank you all for a brilliant night. Great people, too much booze, and a dose of inappropriate behaviour. Sounds like another Man Con night!' Indeed, Ms W. Sleuth is wondering if the Bridgewater Canal needs a Royal Navy patrol posted on it - if that's what happens on those boats.

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

Lawrence of ArabiaJuly 9th 2010.

Piccadilly Gardens - as if. It looks ridiculous at the moment. How can they get things this wrong?

N BakerJuly 9th 2010.

Big, strong, run all day: the English training mantra for football. Finesse is out of the question.

SleuthJuly 9th 2010.

It strikes me that the last story Sleuth did this week relates to the first one.

Paul TaylorJuly 9th 2010.

I vote for the belisha beacon idea...

JonJuly 9th 2010.

I can't believe you're suggesting that they pave over piccadilly gardens... I'll just read it again to make sure. Holy cow! You are!!

Manchester City Centre is already almost completely bereft of green spaces without idiots (and who knows, maybe even influential idiots) suggesting solutions like this.

If you've ever been abroad you'll have noticed that they manage to have unpaved areas even though they have hotter summers than us, and more people using such areas (Paris for example).

Maybe just for once we could try a really un-british approach and look for solutions which don't just involve concreting over everything.

Ted Maul disturbsJuly 9th 2010.

I agree with Jon. Keep the grass.

Just do it rightJuly 9th 2010.

Nope, you've got this wrong Jon. All the main squares of every city from Red Square through Plaza Mayor through Place de la Concorde to Piazza Navona...I could go on are paved with either very small elements of greenery or fountains: but they are more paved than greenery. Why? Because the millions of feet kill the grass. It's inevitable. Any way Sleuth does say 'we argued that the grass would always fail unless managed properly'. Properly managed that's the key.

costa cartaJuly 9th 2010.

You couldn't have Frank Sidebottom Belisha Beacon lights because they'd get stolen and a zebra crossing without flashing beacons would constitute a health hazard. You know it would...it really would!

costa cartaJuly 9th 2010.

Thank you

Leigh ScottJuly 9th 2010.

yeah, get ikea in!

Grass is greenerJuly 9th 2010.

This city really does lack green space. Whilst I wouldn't choose to sit in piccadilly on a sunny day (scally's anyone?! no ta, rather be in St johns gardens) it's nice for visitors to the city to see it's not all industrial up here!

There's a lot of heat generated from under the gardens due to the sub station, tunnel etc (part of the sub station is just opposite Kro, go behind it and you'll see the steps going down) so the grass/ground gets dried out.

All the grass needs is regular watering and a few posts (with chains maybe?) along the edges where most people cut across. Voila, green grass!

Temporary HeroJuly 9th 2010.

You know they're planning to build another Beetham Tower where the grass is in Spiningfields too?

People love green spaces, but they're expensive to keep green and make the council far less money than an office building or block of flats that would occupy the same space, so it's hardly surprising the council opt to get rid of it all.

JJuly 9th 2010.

The grass in Picc Gardens took a good battering when Rangers swamped our city actually, the council haven't bothered to even try to put it right since then! AND, throwing a few grass seeds over the top of dry soil won't help either!! Pathetic.

Temporary HeroJuly 9th 2010.

Keeps the pigeons well fed though eh J

MaggsJuly 9th 2010.

Fabulous night on the barge cruise with the other (drunken) Heroes. We met some really great people and finally got to meet Gordo and say hello to some of the ManCon team. Winning the quiz was the icing on the cake although good thing we didn't listen to Gordo who was on our team - all his answers were wrong!

John HarrisJuly 9th 2010.

I feel left out ... organising the barge trip for 5 days after I leave the country, you rotters

ConManJuly 9th 2010.

Piccadilly Gardens - nowhere near good enough for Manchester.

NortherngeezerJuly 9th 2010.

Yeah, keep the grass, it hides the p*ss, sh*t, and s*ck.

Jonathan Schofield - editorJuly 10th 2010.

John, where did you say you were going? And I'll ask the city council if the restaurant economy has dipped in your absence. Good luck fella.

JJuly 12th 2010.

JIMMY TWO SHOES - I didn't realise it was for the pigeons!!!!!! :) Silly me!

John HarrisJuly 12th 2010.

Jonathan - I'm in Grand Cayman, but will be making a flying visit back for my 40th in the last week of September. See if you can lay on a Mancon event specially in my honour for then?

Jonathan Schofield - editorJuly 12th 2010.

We'll fashion a statue in your honour John.

John HarrisJuly 12th 2010.

I can't drink a statue can I ?

StrewthJuly 24th 2010.

What's happened to Sleuth? I'm having withdrawal symptoms.

SleuthJuly 25th 2010.

Strewth, I'm touched, here's the truth. Sleuth drank so much on Thursday, it was Saturday before he came round. Instead the column will be up on Monday. Sleuth declares that Confidential are on a one media group mission in Manchester to save the reputation of the hard-drinking hack. Remember hacks get most of their stories in the pub or bar - although it pays to get up and write them down the following day.

StrewthJuly 25th 2010.

Thanks Sleuth, although recalling a few episode of that tv gem 'Press Gang' I don't remember them being down the pub getting blotted in order to chase a news worthy story. Maybe Sleuth should frequent Cafe Nero or the Arndale Food Court more often instead?

JamesJuly 27th 2010.

The problem with picadilly gardens is not weather it has hard or soft landscaping, it is simply that if it is trying to be a park with soft landscaping rather than a square, it has not been given a central core; something that might draw people into the middle of it - a reason to visit if you like. All successfull parks have something making it worth exploring. Hard paved squares are essentially places to gather.Even these have central statues or fountains. Squares have the advantage of being open and inviting. Picadilly Gardens needs to distance itself from its name and make its mind up what it wants to be. An interesting space for the public to explore or an open an inviting space for social gatherings. At the moment it seems to fall between 2 stools but in either scenario it needs a focal point/purpose. i simply don't beleive the water feature in the middle of the space serves either purpose. Feeding the ducks with the crusts from greggs pasties would be far more appealing.

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