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Sleuth 16/04/2010

Ghosts in the tunnel, Volcanic trash, Cocktail by name, Mancheshire and the trouble with blogs

Published on April 16th 2010.

Sleuth 16/04/2010

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.

Unfortunate blog
As we made obvious in our story, 'Disaster for Manchester: Sir Richard Leese stands down' (click here), we think that loss of this dynamic leader is a tragedy for the city. But having said that Sleuth found this message on his city council blog unfortunate to say the least: 'Out to Play. The blog will be taking a well-earned rest until May 7th. Can't imagine what I'll be doing 'til then.' Oops. Hindsight is a beautiful thing.

Taking love of your work too far
So Sleuth was at the Northern Hospitality Awards on Monday night at The Hilton. Splendid gig, very efficient. One of those up for an award was Mojo in Leeds, the parent of the Manchester branch. Mojo prides itself on music policy, beers and cocktails. Cocktails. Mal Evans, one of the owners, recently had a child. He's called the child Margarita. After the cocktail. Sweet. Mind you the full name is Margarita Alice Evans, just in case the first part of the name isn't to her taste. Still it could have been worse. They could have called her Sex on th Beach which may have referred to the place of conception but wouldn't have sounded good in the nursery.

Volcanic trash
So Sleuth bumps into a Manchester's Dr Conspiracy in the Briton's Protection pub – his real name is Duncan. Dr DunCon still thinks, like an idiot, that the CIA blew up the Twin Towers. “Don't you think it weird Mr Sleuth sir, that the 'volcanic ash' (he does the inverted commas sign in the air) which stopped all UK flights should happen on the day the party leaders are due in Manchester,” says DunCon. “Well it might have been,” says Sleuth, “if the volcanic ash had been localised over the UK rather than causing flight cancellations all over Northern Europe.” Honestly, conspiracy theorists, gullible nutters one and all.

Risk assessment turns to dust
Sleuth was due to go on BBC News 24 on Thursday morning. There was a roadie down in the outside broadcast centre off Water Street, he had two of those big plug things in his hand and was sat in a mess of cables, muttering to himself: “There's nothing on the risk assessment about bloody volcanic ash.”

Sleuth and Iceland
First it was cod, then it was our savings accounts, now its our flights. Does Iceland really hate us? Still they gave us Bjork for a while so they can't be all bad.

Sleuth's observation of the week
The good thing about no planes in the sky is that you can really see Superman going about his work.

North Cheshire renamed
So Sleuth was in Alderley Edge sat at the station. An old dear came and sat next to him immaculate in pearl necklace and satin gloves. The lady coughed and said in a wonderfully patrician voice, “Have you been conducting business in the Village?” Sleuth half remembered a lost afternoon drinking wine. “Yes,” he said brightly, putting on a posh voice, “it's been marvellous.” The pair had a little chat. “You know,” said the lady when she discovered Sleuth lived in the big city to the north, “so many have come down from there that my husband and I jokingly refer to the Village as Mancheshire.”

Other re-namings
Seuth spent the train journey wondering about other names for the Northern counties which immediately border Manchester (following the old lady's lead in the story above). That bit to the north west could be Mancashire; due west we could have Manseyside, south and east could be Manbyshire. To complete the jigsaw that bit north east could be Manmisery.

French market musings
So Sleuth was taking a guided tour of the city and made his way through an expanded and truly excellent French market in St Ann's Square. The Team Fantastique market offers speciality cheeses and sausages, fresh baguettes, smoked meats, olives, spices, preserves and sauces and so on. There's one in Chorlton too. His Italian visitor on the tour, surveyed the scene and said, “So is there a very large French community in Manchester?” Sleuth thought for a moment, “Sometimes” he said. The markets run until Sunday in town and until Saturday in Chorlton.

Scandal in the Cathedral – if only
This week all the Deans of England's Anglican Cathedrals have been meeting at Manchester Cathedral. They've been discussing all manner of Church and national issues. Good for them. Sad to say that Sleuth was desperate for a scandal to break, he had a catchphrase ready. He would have called the scandal 'Deansgate'.

Sleuth and the darkness of tunnels
So there was Sleuth last Sunday evening sat in the ground floor Interpretation Room of the Great Northern co-ordinating 280 Confidential readers as they went down the tunnel of the Manchester and Salford Junction Canal. The first chamber of the 1839 canal is lit by electric light. There's CCTV in that first chamber too, monitored from a big screen in the Interpretation Room. The stairwell lights and the lights in that first chamber are controlled from ground level.

On one of the eight tours last Sunday, one of the guides pointed out that the lights were not working in the first chamber, “makes it more spooky,” she said, “have to use torches from the beginning”. Must be broken thought Sleuth, and checked the CCTV monitor which clearly showed they were off in that first chamber.

Monitor in the darkened chamber

After the last guests had left around 9.30pm, Sleuth went to turn off the lights. He was alone. The bare concrete stairwell looked frightening descending into the depths, worse when thrown into darkness at the flick of Sleuth's switch. He turned and went back into the Interpretation Room to pack his things away. Suddenly the hairs went up on the back of his neck, and a chill spread through Sleuth. He turned and looked at the CCTV monitor. The lights in the first chamber were on.

Sleuth went back to the switches over the stairwell. The stairwell was pitch black still, the lights were turned off. He went back to the monitor. The lights in the first chamber were still on. Then they suddenly went off. He was four metres from the switches. Touching nothing. Sleuth decided to leave. Quickly. This was getting too much.

One of the Confidential groups. Hopefully all there.

Sleuth closed the door behind him and turned to walk away down a very unsupernatural modern corridor. But something – it always does, doesn't it? - made him turn back. Despite the switch being turned off, despite power not feeding into those electric lights, the first chamber forty feet below, was lit once more. Sleuth hurried away into the night.

Only later did it occur to him he may have left one of the Confidential readers down there.

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Hidden Lizzard Secret DragonApril 16th 2010.

I think the point about the dust cloud being part of a conspiracy is that Northern Europe can actually see it in the sky, whereas in the UK the skies are clear blue as clear blue can be.

Granby RowerApril 16th 2010.

Spooky. When are the next ones?

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