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Sleuth 13/02/2009

Jacobson nails it, the New Union is plastic, Chorlton is childish, Heatherwick gets it wrong again and things are getting hairy with waxing deadline

Published on February 12th 2009.

Sleuth 13/02/2009

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.

Metro confusion
Sleuth was at the Howard Jacobson and Martin Amis debate on Literature and Britishness on Thursday night at the University. Jo from the Centre for New Writing was looking pretty happy about the large turnout. “We got a lot of media support,” she told Sleuth. “Confidential gave us a final boost today and so did the Metro newspaper.” She paused. “Although instead of Literature and Britishness, they called the debate, Literature and Business. I hope we don’t disappoint anyone.” Sleuth couldn’t help scanning the room for confused looking ‘suits’.

Offended in the University
The University debate between Jacobson and Martin Amis on Literature and Britishness was full of memorable lines, chiefly about the importance of comedy. Much of it serious. Amis said, “The problem with comedy for writers now is that we’re on red alert for offence. I agree with Richard Dawkins when he said, ‘no-one has the right never to be offended’. It’s insane to think that you can be protected from offence and childish too.”

Weeping Kingdom
Manchester writer Jacobson also struck a chord with how humourless we have become with: “Why are the British always crying,” he said wryly. “From Diana onwards floods of tears, especially when a camera is near. You can’t turn on the TV without some person wailing because they’ve been thrown off a talent show when they had no talent in the first place. Our stiff upper lip has become a big, soft, wet, trembling one.” FYI Sleuth always carries his stiff upper lip wherever he goes. Especially when passing the Brazilian Waxing Company - see the last story in this section.

Signing Eyes
Sleuth thought Jacobson one of the funniest men he’d ever heard speaking – read The Mighty Waltzer for his magnificent novel about growing up in Manchester. At the signing after the debate, Sleuth joined the Jacobson queue. When he reached the master of wit he said, “Mr Jacobson, could you sign this copy of Private Eye, seems fitting after what you were saying about humour.” Jacobson smiled back, “Cheeky. Here’s me waiting to sign my books and you bring a rival publication. Good man,” he said and signed.

Childs play co-op in Chorlton
Busy Bee, the sweet little toyshop in Chorlton, closed a fortnight ago. Sleuth hears that there are plans to re-open it as a community cooperative. Apparently the residents are getting together testing the waters over the viability of the business, discussing minimum investment and all that. There’ll be another meeting later in the month in the Library and a more detailed business plan presented. Sleuth admires these people and their drive immensely, but given the costs involved thinks it may be prudent to seek a corporate sponsor. Sleuth has a brain-wave. What about Tesco, they’ve just moved into the suburb? Maybe he’ll go along to the Library and suggest it. Chorlton folk love Tesco.

Confidential saw this on Oxford Street the other day. It’s a new fast food place called Archies and features a graphic of a single golden arch. Wonder what this is trying to remind us of? Archies occupies the space beneath the Samaritans. Very appropriate. Sleuth has had the odd kebab which could have been considered a form of suicide.

Laptop dancing
Catharine Braithwaite is a facilitator of the first order. For the Subversive Spaces exhibition she’d brought up a fat batch of top London journos to ogle (and they did), this triumph for the Whitworth Art Gallery. In a taxi round town a solicitous Ms Braithwaite left her life: or rather her laptop, make-up and Ugg boots. When she realised, there was sympathy and shakes of the head. In despair she phoned the taxi lost property people in the Town Hall and - revelations and relief - they’d been handed in. The London journalists were impressed by our lovely cabbies. CB went to pick up the items. “There was a list,” she said to Sleuth. “It was written down in this order: Ugg boots, make-up, lap-top. That’s how I’d reported the loss. Do you think I might have my priorities mixed up?” Nah, thinks Sleuth, Ugg boots, wow, big stuff.

Argie Bargy
Sleuth was amused by a sentence at the end of the press release issued last week by Manchester City Council announcing the rugby union match in June at Old Trafford between England and Argentina. "Manchester is proud to be hosting an England international," they said. Which was good of the city – after all Old Trafford is in Trafford, a completely distinctive administrative area. Sleuth wonders how Trafford council felt about Manchester’s unilateralism? And why won’t the egg-chasing be at the City of Manchester Stadium, where Manchester City's landlord is, er, Manchester City Council. Alas, the council had to inform the Rugby Football Union that Manchester City's new Arab owners have decreed that to keep the playing surface in tip-top condition, only Manchester City matches can be staged at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Pints of plastic nonsense
Gordo and Sleuth got a bit giddy last Friday and ended up bumping into various bars for hours. Eventually they passed the New Union on Canal Street...hey, why not, they thought? It was bedlam: a medieval painting of the Apocalypse. At the bar Gordo asked for a Guinness and Sleuth for a pint of bitter. Both drinks tasted the same, the only difference was that one was darker in colour. The taste was that of aardvark urine. Both drinks came in plastic glasses. “Why plastic glasses inside a pub?” asked an offended Sleuth. “Just in case,” came the enigmatic reply from a bar person of indeterminate sex and age. Sleuth wonders if the bar-thing was worried he might ‘glass’ Gordo, which was a reasonable assumption. No, it was just the management being cheap and lazy of course. Ah, the gentle art of customer care.

Valentine's Day Bear Pit
So a Confidential member of staff of the female persuasion went to the Brazilian Waxing Company on Oxford Road. It was full. In fact, it was fully booked for days up until Valentine’s Day. Has been for weeks. Sleuth thought about this a minute, got a picture or two in his mind’s eye, juggled the pictures around and started chuckling - as did the rest of the men in the office. What's that about being on a promise? Sleuth wonders if our Manchester ladies have always been such smooth talkers.

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

no_botherFebruary 12th 2009.

I've been forcibly ejected from the New Union twice, both times for questioning drinks. First time round, my friend's vodka from the bottle attached to the optic was, on further taste inspection, water. The second time, I didn't get chance to ask to smell or taste the Jack Daniels that so clearly wasn't in with my coke mixer. Two rather large security staff picked me up by the underarms and transported me to the cobbles outside on the raise of a barman's eyebrow. What a dive.

HyperopianFebruary 12th 2009.

That's why I couldn't get an appointment at the BWC until next Monday! I rang on Tuesday. Honestly, ladies.

LindaFebruary 12th 2009.

If they sing whilst they do it, are they waxing lyrical

Jack FoleyFebruary 12th 2009.

There are also rough pubs in the NQ and 'poncy' bars in the GV, so perhaps 'anonymous' can comment more accurately once they've acquired a thorough knowledge of both drinking circuits. The New Union looks to be lowbrow by any location's standards.

andy mFebruary 12th 2009.

X P Rience, you're obivously the sort of person who makes generalised assumptions of others by starting sentnces with 'i bet you're the sort of person'. Your entry makes little sense but i suspect what you are trying to suggest is 'liberal Grauniad readers don't respect their elders'. wrong on all accounts - my post simply suggested that Amis and Jacobson sounded like an extended Daily Mail rant with little substance and no positive suggestions on how to articulate contemporary Britishness. Alex Ferguson won the Scottish Premier League championship with Aberdeen aged 38.

Kev PFebruary 12th 2009.

Serves you right for going to such a dive as the New Union!!

X P RienceFebruary 12th 2009.

andy m I bet you're the sort of person who thinks 'world' cultures are great because they respect their elders. This is just the same. Young people are great at fashion and magazines and honestly they're superb at football and pop, but until they're 40 they're shouldn't be let near responsibility. Name me a successful football manager under 40.

AnonymousFebruary 12th 2009.

Well Tesco in Whalley Range have made my Valentine- half price Cava for that romantic dinner- cash without having to pay the £1.80 cash charge- prostitutes pushed away from the corner of dudley road and withington road - so women feel safer at night- more decent people in the area making whalley range more secure and feeling more vibrant- 4 or 5 members of staff were in the store on thursday night which is more jobs

AnonymousFebruary 12th 2009.

I worked as a dancer at the New Union for 5 years in the good old Roxy Hart Days. It used to be such a great pub and always packed. The staff were lovely and the managers crooked but friendly. Now its just a druggie dive at the arse end of the village. Shame how greed by the owners ran it into the ground.

SDFebruary 12th 2009.

I agree with Anna. but just because she is the first to point it out, how does it mean she has a heightened sensitivity? not exactly rational thinking. It was the one thing from the article which stuck out for me. It is pretty poor of manchester confidential to be referring to somebody as a bar-thing, instead of a bar person, which is what they are. Labelling anybody as a 'thing' totally dehumanises them. You should know better M.C.

GTFebruary 12th 2009.

Oh sure, Chorlton folk love Tesco. In fact, this reminds me, I should drop them a Valentine's Card tomorrow. Show them the "love"!

Batty ManFebruary 12th 2009.

Well, I guess at least you'll have learned not to go back to the New Union. What a dump! And yes, I am a Gayer. :)

Methinks thatFebruary 12th 2009.

Anna, I think Sleuth was being clever here. I think he's testing us. Did you read the 'Offended at the University' Sleuth here? Not that I think the New Union reference or for that matter the Samaritans suggestion is offensive as such, just very direct. Of all the people who have read this you're the first person to point that out, which sort of shows that maybe you have a heightened sensitivity to the new ways of description. But as Amis quotes, "Do you think you have a right not to be offended?" Or do you think to expect to never be offended is childish?

AnonymousFebruary 12th 2009.

I'll take the overflow of work from the Brazilian Waxing Company ladies. There'll be no charge if you allow me to take photos of the finished works for my portfolio.

andy mFebruary 12th 2009.

Jacobson and Amis - two out of touch old men who spent most of their time moaning about how they don't understand change. Nothing more than Stadler and Waldorf for English Lit graduates. I wonder how their disparaging class-ridden (and wierdly sex-obsessed) guff would have gone down with the local community. Back to London with both of them

bunnysnapFebruary 12th 2009.

Re Busy Bee community idea - what about incorporating a kind of baby / childrens 2nd hand clothes rail where the stuff is cheap and can be brought back more than once as children grow out of the clothes. Might not have the same snobby attitude as some of the charity shops on Wilbraham Rd too...

Chris PaulFebruary 12th 2009.

Oi! Where's the Heatherwick bollock-dropping vanished to?

AnonymousFebruary 12th 2009.

Kev doesn't understand that Canal Street had to have and offer to suit all tastes It's not a poncy NQ sort of area.

AnonymousFebruary 12th 2009.

Must be one hell of a weeks work for the Girls who do the waxing...

scarlets walkFebruary 12th 2009.

The NQ is so far from poncy. Im always amazed when I hear that people have this misconception. Poncy implies stuck up and pretentious, I find it to be one of the most relaxed drinking spots in the whole of manchester. If people think having to pay more than a pound a drink or being offered more than smirnoff ice is poncy Id love to see what they think of Panacea.

AnnaFebruary 12th 2009.

No matter what people think of the New Union, I am disturbed at the description of the person behind the bar as a 'thing' in the article. Labeling someone as such just because they are not identifiable as typically male or female is not only misunderstanding the various facets of an individual's identity but is something which is particularly out of place on a website which pertains to be a digest of cultural life in Manchester. The more I read Manchester Confidential, the more I think I need to find an alternative which has more editorial quality.

Michael CockburnFebruary 12th 2009.

Ah yes, the good old Union and it's customer care and quality drinks. I asked for a pint of lager tops in there and I was charged a fortune because they put through the till a FULL pint of lager AND a dash of lemonade (at something like 50p). Complaining to the staff gets you nowhere and will likely get you thrown out. Not applicable to the DJ's and staff who are obviously allowed to be as rude as they like back. Manager - sort it out. This used to be a good pub!!!

eugeneFebruary 12th 2009.

Lovin' your story of the NU...it really is the cat's arse but it is funny to mince in sometimes and be looked at in horror by the locals.. Reminds me of a walk I had down Radcliffe the other day...me and colleague in suits got stared at by no less that one rough looking chap, one pair of old ladies AND one group of young women. Fancy that! A gay and a str8 in suits (and handsome too!)Makes you appreciate the glamour of the city centre.. :-)

Tab-A SadamFebruary 12th 2009.

Girls, don't hush the bush, leave it where it is.I used to do em with a petrol strimmer and a trained goat.

AnonymousFebruary 12th 2009.

....Mr Miyagi (Karate Kid) would be proud

deli llamaFebruary 12th 2009.

Busy bee corporate sponsorship slogan "Every little one yelps"

LouFebruary 12th 2009.

I was refused entry into the new union last year because my heels were too high. Apparently the owner had recently had new floors put in and my stilletto heels would ruin the floors???

AnonymousFebruary 12th 2009.

the trouble with the gay village is that all the pubs and clubs act like a mafia trying to stop new venues and competition from opening. this means that they can continue to provide crap venues with crap service.

Chris BFebruary 12th 2009.

Archies... Hahaha!! Reminds me of McDowell's in 'Coming to America'...

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