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Sleuth 13/11/2009

Swinging Santa, new public toilets for Manchester, anonymous David Beckham, Buddhist council leaders and pagan disappearing

Published on November 12th 2009.


Sleuth 13/11/2009

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.

Breakfast lotus
Sleuth was at the Christmas marketing campaign launch on Wednesday morning at Harvey Nichols. The funniest councillor in the land, Pat Karney, was in fine form. “We getting to like breakfast meetings, it’s down to the Council Leader Sir Richard of course. He’s gone Buddhist or something and likes three hours meditation from five’o’clock in the morning to make sure he’s ready for business. We’re all following suit.” There was a ripple of amusement round the assembled suits. It was just then that one of Manchester’s finest hacks leaned into Sleuth and whispered. “Is that really true?” “Yes, Scoop, course it is,” said Sleuth.

Who the hell are you?
So Sleuth was out with a lady for lunch the other day. She’s an arts fund-raiser. “One time,” she said, “in an Art Gallery fund-raising event I got chatting to this good-looking man, very good-looking actually. We talked for a while and then I re-joined some colleagues. They were wide-eyed and giggling, “what was he like, what did he say?” I looked blankly at them. One of them said, “You have no idea who that was, have you?” “No,” I said. Silence for a couple of seconds whilst the ladies absorbed that information. “It was David Beckham,” someone said." Sleuth's friend paused for a second, "I thought he'd looked familiar,” she mused.

Fence not enticing
Sleuth was down on Canal Street in the Village the other day looking at the most expensive half fence in history. £150k worth of chrome and glass designed to stop people falling in the canal and drowning once every ten years or so. Click here for more discussion on this. The bit from Sackville Street to Princess Street isn’t finished yet. Sleuth learns that’s because each pane of glass between the posts is individually customised to fit the position. It’ll all be done in two weeks time though. That still leaves us with 31 and a bit miles to fence on the Rochdale Canal before we’re truly safe from ourselves. Oh and the six miles of the Ashton Canal and thirty miles of the Bridgewater Canal....

Sleuth’s fact of the week
With reference to the above story, £150k could buy you almost 40,000 water wings. Or two part-time life guards for weekend nights for three years. Or a fence consisting of a series of glass panels standing off a flagstone wall for 250 metres.

Horror on the first floor
This is one for all those people who went to Manchester International Festival’s ‘It Felt Like A Kiss’ show. This took place in Confidential’s building, Quay House, when it was empty in the summer (click here for a previous Sleuth on this). In the live drama about post-war USA there were manniquins, dressed in the styles of the time, and with gruesome mask-like faces. Sleuth was exploring on the first floor of the building on Thursday at twilight. Ok, prying, being nosey, call it what you want. In one room he got the shock of his life. The manniquins are still occupying the building. Lined up at the windows, staring out at Spinningfields with their sightless eyes. It’s terrifying. See the pics below.

More public toilets for the city
Speaking of Canal Street, Sleuth saw this the other day. Outside the smartest boozer in Manchester (are you sure? Ed), the New Union, he found this attractive coupling. Sleuth thinks they must be taking the piss. Then he looked down and in his hand was a leaflet he'd been given from the City’s Christmas campaign and there was the new strapline for Xmas Manchester: ‘See what Manchester’s made of’. The New Union might be taking that message too seriously thought Sleuth.

Raising the testing bar
Opposite the New Union is Spirit bar. At the same time as the New Union was putting the 'public' in public convenience, Spirit had this little promotion: free HIV tests, in the afternoon. All very good and proper thinks Sleuth trying desperately to quell any thoughts that might get him in trouble with readers. Still this is nothing new. Jimmy Savile once ran a promotion in the sixties in his Plaza club, where the horrible Varsity pub is presently sat on Oxford Road. This offered free polio inoculations with the ticket price. Sleuth's not sure about health initiatives in clubs and pubs. He just likes a pint.

Survival of the fittest
Sleuth was in the Charles Darwin exhibition at Manchester Museum this week. It was excellent; straightforward, informative and effective. Sleuth was suspicious. Last year Confidential fell out with the Museum over its Lindow Man exhibition which said almost nothing about Iron Age life but instead had a modern-day pagan on video talking about her feelings. Then there was the experiment in covering up the Egyptian mummies as pagan groups think its disrespectful to show the ancient dead in museums. These were initiatives of Piotr Bienkowski, the Deputy Director, and an avowed pagan himself. Sleuth now hears the museum’s director, the excellent and brainy Nick Merriman, has re-asserted full control. Mr Bienkowski is off making wicker men or some such, he’s certainly not in the building. Thankfully it seems normal service has resumed at the Museum, and science not superstition reigns once more.

Spinning Santa
So Sleuth was walking through Albert Square early this week. He saw a happy looking gent hanging around in the middle of the square. “Hey, Santa,” Sleuth called. Santa, who's a bit hard of hearing took about fifty seconds to look over and nod at Sleuth. Sleuth knows Santa likes steak. “That Chez Gerard, does good fillets, shall we go sometime?” called Sleuth. Santa asked where it was, Sleuth pointed it out in the square and Santa turned to look.


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

Mark Garner, the PublisherNovember 12th 2009.

Jen, your tenners a month cover mid Jan 10 to mid Jan 11, there won't be any interuptions of service unless the Internet closes down in that period. The new site is in test now and will go live pror to middle Jan. I think that answers it?

Bob the MancNovember 12th 2009.

Remember, that'd be a tenner a month, every month, until a price increase or new £50 a month "Superhero" is introduced.....If you're paying Scoteee.

eugeneNovember 12th 2009.

On the subject of ManCon Heroes...i would love to pay £10 a month to be a member however at the risk of soundiong flippant, we are in a recession with rising unemployment. I can't afford something so frivolous at this time which is a real shame considering I love the ManCon brand and ethos. I am concerned this is going to create a two-tier system of haves and have-nots which would contradict the ManCon ethos! I note a lot of media outfits are moving towards providing free services, not the other way round. Not sure you will be breaking new ground here... this could therefore be teh beginning of the end of a great brand.

scoteeeNovember 12th 2009.

Stop talking bollox and pay a tenner,I have!!!

Red KenNovember 12th 2009.

Goodbye Man Con

scoteeeNovember 12th 2009.

Bob i will pay for anything where i feel there is value for money.to me you are contradicting yourself a little.To quote"Many fantastic meals and deals" and you got yourself a Mrs out of it! Now I may be treading thinly here but if I am not mistaken, you have either an ugly Mrs that you feel in some way agrieved towards Mancon or your tight,which one is it?

FluffNovember 12th 2009.

Beefy Stew I think Mancon will be crying to see every one of their current readers go as this is a loss of revenue, although thankyou for speaking on their behalf. Up untill now our relationship was mutually exclusive, I added to Mancon's readership and took up offers which proved to advertisers that thier investment would reap reward. However now I don't think I will benefit enough to justify the ten pounds a month subscription fee which the website requires to keep afloat. As for scoteeeeee stop insulting people (and their partners) you don't even know, it's imature and down right pathetic.

Beefy StewNovember 12th 2009.

Eugene, watch out for those chips me old son, they weigh shoulders down badly. I have been to a number of Mancon do's and they are a right laugh, especially if you get Gordo and Schofield on the booze.

johnthebriefNovember 12th 2009.

Beefy, the real challenge is to find one of those rare moments when Gordo's not on the booze...

johnthebriefNovember 12th 2009.

Mark / Jonathan - do I get any credit against the heroes sub for my recent subsidy to Mancon restaurant reviews?

SallyNovember 12th 2009.

tblzebra - before I read your comment that was still the first thing that came into my mind!!

EugeneNovember 12th 2009.

boys.i want to join. period. However...times being hard, i can't. My original concern was that it would create a two-tier system. This has been eloquently illustrated by more than one of the above posts.It's always worth pointing out to those with bigger attitudes than my own that it was you who started it, not me! Point again proven .cheers

Mark Garner, the PublisherNovember 12th 2009.

JTB, I will buy you a drink next time I see you out ;-) LC, fees will be £10 for Heroes and a fiver for friends.

lucky-chrisNovember 12th 2009.

Sometimes it's really hard to rant within the rules.

Call me old fashioned...November 12th 2009.

Its very simple, if Confidential give value I will pay for it, end of story. If they don't I won't and I trust them enough to give them a try. One thing I do know having been in publishing for twenty years is that Garner is right. There aren't enough advertising pounds to go round and I suspect that if mancon wants to expand it's offering they need to get more from the readers. Why should people expect others to work and they get the fruits for nothing? 'Free Internet; is an illusion, in the long run services will have to be paid for.

lucky-chrisNovember 12th 2009.

So are you saying that your team don't get paid?

Beefy StewNovember 12th 2009.

Fluff, I am not sure the mancon team will be crying to see you go; is it all take take take for you? Shame on you...

jennNovember 12th 2009.

To be fair it was pre Posh days but to make it worse when he said he played football I asked if he was any good!

JohnNovember 12th 2009.

Are you sure those are mannequins ? Looks like Gordo after a night out to me

scoteeeNovember 12th 2009.

That's a bit harsh fluff... shall i lend you the tenner?

poxy123November 12th 2009.

As per the Anonymous comment - is this the reason you're going to start charging for site access, to pay for a decent spell check?

AnonymousNovember 12th 2009.

Anon, you are right. I think most people will just slip away without comment - I nearly did. I think the subscription is too much and quite frankly the concept sounds a bit "elite". Not sure I want to join as in the "don't want to belong to any club which will have me as a member" type thing.I have only ever taken up one "offer" and found out I could have got the same offer direct from the establishment. I have never been to an event as I live out of town and visit the centre infrequently. What I have used Mancon for is information (particularly the readers' comments in rants which I have often found more useful than the article). I guess I will have to work a bit harder to find out what's happening/where etc from now on. I hope however that other readers have found my comments useful in the past albeit usually posted anonymously due to past unfortunate experience (nothing to do with ManCon but a local newspaper). Good luck everyone.

AnonymousNovember 12th 2009.

I think this is a great site and I use it a lot. Its a great source of info for the manchester region, tells me about restaurants I may or may not go to and the bulletin boards create a good community feel. I think the staff do a good job with both their reporting and their response to feedback. Ultimately however I could never see myself paying for this site - sorry. I will also not be paying for youtube, google, myspace, facebook etc , that is the way of the internet. Still hope all works out well for this site.

Mark Garner, the PublisherNovember 12th 2009.

J, thanks for the input. May I ask why you spend time here if you think that we aren't worth paying anything?

PhilboNovember 12th 2009.

I was more than happy to pay my tenner for the subscription. Besides Jay Rayner, Man Con is the only place I use when trying to find a place for a nice meal with the missus. If it weren't for here, I would never of found Lounge Ten (best meal I've had so far in Manchester) or discovered the joys of the Amazing Graze at ABode. Do we get a snazzy membership card in the post? How about a nice christmas present... even a card...

ONovember 12th 2009.

£10 a month? To view this website? You'd have to be MENTAL wouldn't you?

lucky-chrisNovember 12th 2009.

Though I do genuinely hope your writers reap the rewards :-)

Beefy StewNovember 12th 2009.

Paid my tenner as well. Sav, how do you think Mancon finances itself? Fairies bringing barrels of money every day? I am in the media, we all know that advertising cannot pay all the bills of online publishing. Why should writers work their balls off for people like you for no reward? I have saved hundreds of quids through Mancon down the years, i am supporting them. If you can't see your way to a couple of quid a week, Sav, then you actually aren't much use to the advertisers as well, thinking about it.

NorthernGeezerNovember 12th 2009.

Ed - I for one only ever look at the foodie stuff on Mancon, though i did have a blimp at that burd who got her kit off for that very 'artistic' photo shoot though. I aint interested in the beauty stuff or hearing wot the city council glitterati are up to, and if i want to read about sport there are always the newspaper sites, which are free. I understand your reasons for charging but for me it go's against the grain to pay for anything on t'internet, i dont even pay for me porn!!!!.

FluffNovember 12th 2009.

Fairwell Mancon I won't be subscribing depsite having followed your adventures for three years and using many of your offers. I won't miss scoteeeeeeees incessant bullying of fellow ranters. Shame on you.

ONovember 12th 2009.

Jenn, were you living on the moon at the time?

eugeneNovember 12th 2009.

Fluff says 'I won't miss scoteeeeeeees incessant bullying of fellow ranters. Shame on you'Correct

tblzebraNovember 12th 2009.

I still maintain that's Zippy from Rainbow in a Santa suit.

FiNovember 12th 2009.

and another thing, I will not pay £10 a month to have ROB shoved down my throat at every opportunity - there are 3 pages dedicated to the 'maverick' chef at the moment. Quick count, on the front page of this site, I've counted articles by 10 different writers, and you want more??

Bob the MancNovember 12th 2009.

I can appreciate the spend a tenner to save x amount, and were it not for being made redundant i wouldn't be so reluctant with the purse strings, and since we've downgraded to takeaways rather than meals out mancon has less to offer me of use at this time! And to the narcissistic Scotee, thin ice indeed, and i'll leave it there.

Julie MNovember 12th 2009.

The clever model would be free viewing of the articles and a membership model pitched low for the rest with offers and competitions benefits. This then would keep readers and advertisers happy and deliver the money for the writers and for the investment.

Mark Garner, the PublisherNovember 12th 2009.

Anon, there are two levels, the first has been launched and is by invitation only, known as heroes; if you are a regular, email me heroes@planetconfidential.co.uknospam and I will send you the invite; that goes for all regular ranters.

JeffNovember 12th 2009.

I may have considered paying as much as my old city life sub which was a quid a week. At at tenner a month, I just think it's too much... I'm not personally interesting in going to events. I'd be interested to know how many people took up the membership card offer.

jennNovember 12th 2009.

P.S. I once asked David Beckham what he did for a living, genuinely...can I have a mention in Sleuth as well?

johnthebriefNovember 12th 2009.

That may well turn out to be a pricey drink Gordo, if I can catch you in a sufficiently upmarket establishment. You've got my sub anyway...

AnonymousNovember 12th 2009.

I really enjoy ManCon but having thought about this during a long boring drive from the South Coast yesterday, I think you're wrong. Very wrong. I think you're over estimating the numbers that will sign up and over estimating the revenue per new 'member' and on the flip side under estimating the damage on the readership as a whole. As soon as you create a two tier or even three tier membership system you will start to lose readership, those who haven't 'signed up' will feel disenfranchised and leave - there are alternatives. City Life must be rubbing their hands right now. The whole ethos of the internet is that it's free and companies make their revenue from advertising and though Murdoch has mentioned charging, I think ManCon are several years ahead of time on this and just for once being ahead of the game could be fatal. If readership falls, what would happen to advertising revenue which would still form the main avenue of income? Then there's the costs involved in actually running the service and collecting and accounting the revenue and these costs are always higher than anticipated. People have tried these schemes several times before, ManCon tried something similar, and they haven't worked and there's obviously reasons for that. I think there are other revenue schemes open to you and areas where you may be missing a trick that need to be explored first. Then's there's cost cutting. Do Property, Body and Kids Confidential really make money that cannot be retained by incorporating them into the main site? How many food reviewers do you really need? It's a competitive world out there and 'customers' (which your readers are) simply don't expect prices to rise at the moment or even new prices to come in. Very few people will be interested in the services and offers that the new tiers will get, they may say they are but in practice these things dilute. I've only eaten at one ManCon offer ever, as I don't like the whole organised menu thing, just not for me and I always feels slightly cheeky when getting something cheap. Surprisingly I'd probably go for it and pay the amount but just from a want to not feel there was stuff going on I didn't know about - there will be very few people like that. I could be an arrogant so and so and not have a clue what I'm talking about but the readers comments above seem to suggest a swing against it and most people won't comment, they'll just slip away.

scoteeeNovember 12th 2009.

I already did,Eugene.

NorthernGeezerNovember 12th 2009.

Looks like Mancon took no notice of the feedback they requested on this subject, unless of course every other bugger said yeah they wouldnt mind paying. I'm sure these rants wont be the last we hear on the £10 fee.

Mark Garner, the PublisherNovember 12th 2009.

Help!, here you go: www.manchesterconfidential.com/index.asp…

Ultimate hangoverNovember 12th 2009.

That would be a right bugger to nip out for a drink at Spirit and come back HIV positive. Actually I suppose you'd could then drink yourself into oblivion since you're already in a bar.

Bob the MancNovember 12th 2009.

Eugene i feel your pain, i think it is a little short sighted to have a 2 tiered exclusive members privilage club, i appreciate that the hard working talent have to be paid, and rightfully so, but i can't see it being sustainable (And as a proud Manc from Stretford i can't believe I'm saying this) as it would be in London, I'm not dead against the Heroes thing, and if it weren't for cash being tight i would be splashing out, off the back of this site I've had many fantastic meals and deals, including my first date for free with the Mrs of nearly 2 years, but i can't help but feel it somehow will not work. We'll see eh?

eugeneNovember 12th 2009.

If I could afford NHS glasses scoteee, I would parade them at all the fanciest ManCon events...so i could admire the pretentious to%%ers talking tripe and kissing their own backsides

scoteeeNovember 12th 2009.

Apologies if I caused offence.Eugene says,"I am concerned this is going to create a two-tier system of haves and have-nots which would contradict the ManCon ethos" Don't you worry yourself Eugene, i would have thought that no-one is going to demand your money or rob you of the little box of plasters that keep those NHS glasses together either...

AnonymousNovember 12th 2009.

Is this £10 fee just to read the site, or to be a member, rant and get the discounts and various other stuff?

Editorial Calculating DepartmentNovember 12th 2009.

This is what we currently offer on Manchester Confidential. Let's take mid-September to mid-October this year, we had: 33 Food and Drink stories, 30 News and Comment stories, 30 Health, Beauty and Shop stories (Body Confidential), 19 Art, architecture and culture stories, 12 Property stories (Property Confidential), 10 Entertainment stories, 7 Events and Listings stories, 5 Satirical stories and 5 Sports stories. Total: 151 stories plus 35 competitions and offers. Everything from winning free office space and Wii's to United tickets and, of course, the best in food and drink offers. That's 186 separate inclusions.

Laughing my socks off!November 12th 2009.

I hope Mancon goes through with this tremendous idea of a membership scheme as surely that will see the end of 'Mark Garner, Publisher' and a media group or like will buy confidential and make it what it deserves to be. No offence Mark, your just a nob!

The MimeNovember 12th 2009.

.. .... .. .... .. . .. . .. .... .. .... ... ...

PlatNovember 12th 2009.

Those manniquins are terrifying. I could put them to good use though. Can I have one?

help!November 12th 2009.

Can someone please tell me where this 10 pound per month thing is mentioned????!!!!!

eugeneNovember 12th 2009.

well as i clearly can't afford new bins or a new hanky scoteee, why don't you dig deep to help a fellow ConMan?

bazzaNovember 12th 2009.

Would love to but sorry cant afford it.so long :(

scoteeeNovember 12th 2009.

Eugene,your hanky needs a wash and your plaster is are peeling off.

Mark Garner, the PublisherNovember 12th 2009.

Well done JTB, you're on for one. I shall be asking you onto a committee by the way in the New year to come up with daft ideas for the members. Drinking and falling over being one.

jennNovember 12th 2009.

So if I pay my ten pounds for a month and you close down for two of those weeks do those weeks roll over or does my tenner cover the first month after you re launch?

lucky-chrisNovember 12th 2009.

Wasn't the protracted fee somewhere between £4.50 and £7.50? So not as big a number as you first thought? Ultimately, £10 could represent good value for money... unless you're "fluff" though, right?

AnonymousNovember 12th 2009.

Talking of loos, has anyone else had the misfortune of nipping into Starbucks recently in Piccadilly (not sure if this is happening in all of them), only to find that you can no longer use the loo without putting in a code that you can only get from the staff behind the counter, who are not impressed if you have not purchased anything. Come on Starbucks, how mean and scrooge like is that, I think most of us have been a Starbucks customer at some point so why not let us use the loo.

SavNovember 12th 2009.

No matter what remarks I get for my earlier comment. I still ain't payin'. I will just ring around restaurants I'm interested in and see if they have offers or look out on free manchester sites that promote offers (others do exist). The thing is, the readership will be reduced dramatically because of this, so advertisers will get even less exposure, so it won't even be worth their money advertising on the site either.

JinkiesNovember 12th 2009.

Very cynical bob ;) I've not signed up yet but I might, I use lots of the offers so tend to save more than £10 a month by using the site, so I can subscribe but still save. joy

AnonymousNovember 12th 2009.

Where's this ten pound a month thing mentioned?

SavNovember 12th 2009.

£10 per month? Or £10 one off fee? Either way, I ain't parting with any of my money. I'm already on a strict budget. I disagree totally with the direction that man con want to go.

JNovember 12th 2009.

We are in a recession! I think you will find that MANY establishments have great offers on at the moment, not only the ones arranged through Man con...so I think I will keep my tenner!

WareoniaNovember 12th 2009.

I was thinking of actually paying the membership fee but thinking about it, it really isn't worth it. I understand all the points above but the simple fact is £10 a month is just far too much. Fair enough you need more money than you get for advertising why not just charge £2 a month. At that price i recon the vast majority of readers would rather pay up than leave. Also how many writers do you need how many restrauts are there in manchester that you need more than you have now. One more thing to all the pompous pricks abusing/mocking/patronising anyone not willing to pay you do you think you are? pull your gold plated cheque book out off your @rse and use it to pay for a lesson in manners. £10 for what is basically a review site is far too much. There are many, many things you could do rather than what you are doing and it seems most people agree. Short sighted and doomed to fail.

FiNovember 12th 2009.

The above anon has said what I was about to say. Advertising revenue will drop off as a result of a smaller readership but will the site recoup enough back through membership to make up for it? Doubt it, even it it does, you're back to square one with the same amount of revenue coming in. As for the offers, the majority are not exclusive and are available in the establishments anyway - they have simply paid ManCon to advertise. I have to also ask why you feel you need more writers? Times are tough, your staff should be multi-tasking and working smarter. Again, I see little benefit in the other Confidentials being a seperate entity - when you compare hits on all of the sites, it's the original Manchester Confidential that attracts most. Finally, can I ask what happened to the Confidential card? Did it work? If not, wht not? This idea of membership seems no different

Mark Garner, the PublisherNovember 12th 2009.

Lucky-Chris, we are the only publication currently increasing the number of writers we have on board and we pay everyone. I want more though, and I want to halt the general trend in publishing which currently sees talent paid peanuts because the general public think that there are money trees outside the front door and all content can be paid for with advertising money. It can't. To take Mancon to the next level we need to prove that people think enough of our content to get their hands in their pockets. If they don't, then what is the point of Mancon? Fortunately it appears that a good number do.

AnonymousNovember 12th 2009.

i use mancon to find good offers for eating out. I also have other ways of finding lots of offers. i trust mancon and like the reviews but i am not paying over £10 per month for it! i dont pay ten pounds per month for any other website i use, and i never would. and also sounds like as a non payer i will still hear about the offers and be able to read the reviews, just 24hrs later than people who pay? just odd. i wish you the best but I wont be joining up.

AnonymousNovember 12th 2009.

'Manikins'? 'Lent'? EDITORIAL: The first was an overactive American spell check the second was sheer bloody foolishness. Thanks.

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