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Sleuth 17/04/2009

Tesco goes completely mad, Engelbert Humperdinck’s Satanic origins, Manchester International Festival on its head, and more indirect tax

Published on April 16th 2009.

Sleuth 17/04/2009

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.

Hell is City
Sleuth was terrified on Oxford Road this week. As he walked past the Palace Hotel he saw a banner advertising an up-coming gig by Engelbert Humperdinck. Engelbert was so red. So very devilishly red. As he gazed harder the face morphed and shifted revealing the true identity of the crooner. Yes Humperdinck is Hellboy.

What we're supposed to see

The true picture, Humperdinck is Hellboy

Smoking exploitation
Sleuth is hearing lots of reports of bars and clubs charging people who leave the premises to go for a fag. This is a sign at Area 51 club on Whitworth Street West. It tells people they will be charged 50p if they go out to the smoking terrace. The 50p, it states, will be donated to a cancer charity. Nice in one way. But in reality just another ghastly indirect tax. Sleuth who doesn’t smoke, certainly doesn’t like the idea of coercive charity. Being forced to give somehow seems to be missing the point. If anybody else knows of this ridiculous tactic let us know. How far can this go, £1 to go to the toilet? And how can we be sure the sum of money goes to charity?

Royle day out
Sleuth was taking around some BBC relocators to Mediacity the other day. They went through Chorlton and one man saw the Feathers pub on Barlow Moor Road. “Hey, was the Royle Family filmed round here?” he said. “Look there’s the pub from the programme, the Feathers.” Sleuth pointed out that the Royle Family was set in Wythenshawe. “Are you sure?” the man said. “Look at the acts on this weekend on the signboard, they sound about right.” The acts were ‘Friday Nite DJ Smokey, Saturday Nite Tricky Micky.’ Sleuth decided to change his mind. “Yep, you’re right, it was filmed here. In fact the whole family and all their friends still go in.”

Life reflects art

Tesco and the warm wine shock
Sleuth likes wine. He likes it a lot. But he’s old fashioned about it. He thinks white wine should be chilled. So late one night he dropped into the Tesco Metro on Upper Chorlton Road and headed off to the fridge for a Sancerre. There was none in there, but loads on the shelf next to it. “It’s called conform and comply,” came the reply when Sleuth asked the supervisor about this. “We’re told not to put the white wine in the fridge. We are sometimes told to put reds in there though. If we don’t comply we can be disciplined. Don’t ask me about it, ask the bosses?” That left Sleuth scratching his head. Conform and comply? Even when it makes no sense. How very totalitarian. How very silly? Every little stupidity doesn’t help.

Can’t see the wood for the...roots
Sleuth loves Manchester International Festival but there are a few murmurings in the local artistic community about it. A notable local artist sent him this gripe. ‘Flicking through the Manchester Festival programme I noticed that an artwork derived from the winning idea to the Manchester Open Art competition is to be a series of upside-down willow trees byGustav Metzger (German, lives in London) submitted by Taylor YoungArchitects (head office in Cheshire) and CUBE (conveniently located inManchester). Very international, but an original idea? Not really. I remembered writing a few years ago about an upside-down pines installation by Giles Kent as part of a sculpture trail in the Lune Valley. I then remembered a more recent report of an upside down tree artwork in Bristol. A brief (under 30 seconds) bit of research unearthed (ho, ho) several other variations on the upside down tree theme - in fact it is beginning to look like a public art cliché. In case anyone misses the opportunity to see this wood(for the trees)during the festival, don't worry, The Whitworth (also represented on the selection panel) are acquiring it for permanent display.’ Sleuth also remembers in the North Pole tent at Christmas lots of upside-down trees too. Still if it looks great who cares. And the Festival thinks it does, the idea is part of the branding of this year’s summer event.

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

AlanApril 16th 2009.

My local Tesco Depress does the same, white wine on the shelf, red & rose in the fridge. Makes no sense whatsoever, but then again what can you expect from a supermarket that keeps Jane Horrocks in voiceover work...

esquiloApril 16th 2009.

I second Ali McGowan. The Manto christmas trees were the first I remember, and did indeed look fab. Looking back, that was maybe 12 or 13 years ago. Ps: You can buy upside down Christmas trees from B&Q, I wonder if their buyer was a Breakfast Club regular

el beanioApril 16th 2009.

Ho hum. I don't know, M30, my local asian-run grocery store (Manchester Superstore, has several branches around M/cr as it happens) provides more choice, more character and *a lot cheaper* fruit & veg than the local Tesco Express (Upper Chorlton Road). The latter is badly run, has a high turnover of badly trained staff and a limited, overpriced range of goods. It also has a robbery-prone cashpoint outside, where for a long time Tesco refused to install a camera, as well as not giving cashback instore (to maximise profits would be my guess).Personally I agree with the person who said, if you don't like Tesco just don't go there. I have no problem sourcing all my foods from a combo of local grocers, ALDI, Unicorn and occasionally Morrissons for the odd treat. Quite like the Morrisson's in Chorlton as it has a good range of foods I think, but it's all a matter of taste of course.Lastly, to those smart alecs who post on here just to correct people's spelling mistakes, and in many cases deliberate 'humourous' spelling mistakes at that: you are in fact not looking very smart, please stop it and save us readers cringing on your behalf.

playwrite27April 16th 2009.

I don't smoke, but smokers have my complete sympathy. 50p to smoke--however noble the excuse, that's...ridiculous! They should boycott the club, bet the loss of revenue would be greater than the gain. Better to ask for a 50p on a voluntary basis--then that would mean more, wouldn't it?A devilish Englebert? E-gad's with a face like that he'd not be easy to forget!

crazyjohnApril 16th 2009.

Does MancConf have to drag out the pro-smokers stories? I'm fuming. One imagines the background colours of this site are imitating the colour of walls in Confidential offices. Tar for listening.

Ali McGowanApril 16th 2009.

The earliest modern incarnation of upside down trees I encountered was several years at Manto on Canal Street, when they hung several Christmas trees upside down from the roof. It looked fab! And in the summer they had an entire patio set, upside down, stuck to the ceiling!!!

Big O knows BestApril 16th 2009.

"You philippines" HA HA HA HA HA love it. Smug Wine Expert... think you've had afew too many glasses of wine mate. Ha ha ha ha wish I was a wine expert. How smug do you feel now?

castlefieldApril 16th 2009.


AnonymousApril 16th 2009.

It's curious that Tesco continue to open (in)convenience stores like their competitors where you can never find/get what you really want rather than a large store with a mile or so of the City Centre. I have been told you can't have a supermarket in a City Centre but Leeds and Liverpool do and much better 'market' provision too. The City Centre pre bomb did have a Supermarket and pre Thatcher it had three largest food stores of various price levels. As soon as people came to live in the City all they got are these high price convenience stores. So what do they eat and where do they buy it?.... I doubt it is in these stores where the basket seems under £15 usually.Good point about the wine... maybe there is a market for mini red wine coolers /cellars, like those six can beer freezers of some years ago.

hmmmApril 16th 2009.

By the way, wasn't it "The Royle Family"?

AnonymousApril 16th 2009.

Note, the Co-op have not yet been given permission on the Church St unit either. Potentially both the Co-op & new Tesco plans could be considered at the same council planning meeting. Seriously, what is the distance between Pall Mall House & Tesco's Market St store?

K-DogApril 16th 2009.

Avo “more ethical policy with regards the products that they stock and the investments that they make".Go on explain more then? Why is Co-op more ethical than Tesco?

BoredofitallApril 16th 2009.

I went to erm...5th ave for ....erm nostalgia reason...erm....Anyway, my feriend was charged £1 for a wristband which granted her 5 visits to the fag fairy outside...then she was shouted at bgy the bouncers for not standing further up the street to smoke it...7 years later, still running on red devil vodbulls.... ahhh twas nostalgic to say the least.

mrsgideonApril 16th 2009.

In the same way as Area 51, both 5th Avenue and 42nd St charge a pound for a wristband that gives you 4 spells of 5 minutes outside. Doesn't even state it goes to charity. Not that I frequent these places, but my angry, nicotine-deprived uni compatriots do. Rubbish and exploitative.

M30April 16th 2009.

I fail to understand many Mancunians almost pathalogical hatred of Tesco. They were the first supermarket to open an outlet in the City Centre when the Metro opened, previously, the only alternative was the double-price Spar; and as Manchester has grown, so has its' consumer needs, therefore there are more Tesco stores in town these days. What I fail to understand is how people become hysterical every time there's whispers of Tesco opening in either Chorlton or the Northern Quarter. If Aleefs News opened their seventy-ninth store in town, most people, I suspect wouldn't bat an eyelid. As a former resident of both areas, I dislike the way that the idea of "you should support the local businesses and buy dirty carrots for £5.99 a pound" is rammed down one's throat - many of the NQ businesses are run by people living outside the area purely to make money from the cash-rich who visit there. As for Chorlton, any competition to that dreadful former Safeway has to be a good thing. There has to be an element of choice, and Tesco provides that in abundance. Do not forget that alongside the £250,000 apartments in the NQ (and Chorlton for that matter even more so), there lies social housing as well as pensioners who would welcome being able to buy a loaf of bread at a sensible price.

RayApril 16th 2009.

Wino John is absolutely right about chilling reds (although I'd gor for 18C). Please note that storing wine (white, champagne etc) in fridges is death to the wine as a fridge (a) vibrates and (b) is far too dry for storing wines (the corks dry out). A couple of days is okay, and of course it depends on the quality of the wine. I agree though that we drink reds FAR too warm - and most restaurants are guilty of this. I've lost count of the number of times I have had to ask for an ice bucket to cool reds back down. It's not just for premier cru burgundy either; a basic malbec is far better with a bit of crispiness to the fruit.

AeronApril 16th 2009.

How refreshing that a media outlet hasn't jumped on the anti-smoking bandwagon and sees fit to report what is clear opportunistic money-making. Crazy John and Pete's comments above demonstrate a lack of original thought or logic. They've obviously been reading the anti-smoking / anti-drinking rantings of another Manchester media outlet. Since when was objective journalism about subjective paternalism? Perhaps ManCon could follow this up with a bit of old-fashioned investigative journalism. How much money has Area 51 donated to charity since introducing its draconian tobacco tax? Which charity(ies) has/ve benefited? How many people does this equate to? Not that any of this really matters, as the policy is outrageous. If I want to give my hard-earned money to charity, then I will choose when and which good causes. I don't need a bar to decide that for me. In the words of Catherine Tate, 'What a f*ckin liberty'!

hmmmApril 16th 2009.

I was at Area 51 last Saturday and nobody appeared to be charging anybody to use the terrace. I went out there myself - free of charge - for some "fresh" air. Meantime, if you want to talk about other charges, can we not have a discussion about club/bar toilet attendants and whether people actually want them cluttering up the facilities with their cheapo aftershaves. Sure: for the people doing it, it's probably low paid, miserable and all that - but that makes me even more certain that it should be dropped from a venue's list of 'must-haves'.

Smug-wine-expert JohnApril 16th 2009.

Yes, Castlefield, of course...

DrakeApril 16th 2009.

I;m still bewildered that those campigning against tesco getting the site haven't made a peep about the co-op. Given the argument against Tesco was on its effect in local traders, how will this be any different. The Co-op doesn't have the commitment to employing local people Tescos does, or as nice food, but is just as likely to drive market traders out of business. Yet not a peep. Something to do with the co-op owning half the city perhaps?

BenApril 16th 2009.

RED WINE IN THE FRIDGE? Is Tesco being run by a bunch of Chelsea Slappers?

PeteApril 16th 2009.

Thanks - my weekend has started nicely with the news that smokers are being charged 50p to get out to smoke at Area51. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.

James Edwin SiddelleyApril 16th 2009.

Beats me why EVERYBODY isn't an active member of the Co-op - it's SUCH elementary commonsense. In fact, the present debacle in BankingOUGHT to lead to a re-structuring ofcompanies in general towards beingCo-operatives and Mutuals, not plc's.

stevesmitheartothegroundApril 16th 2009.

We were upside down trees pioneers. These Johnny come lately's have jumped on our bandwagon. Its a disgrace. In all serious - I think Metzgers work will be outstanding.

BenApril 16th 2009.

Self righteous non smokers - how many of them drive? Therefore inflicting thousands of toxic chemicals on anyone walking down the road on a daily basis. But as long as those "disgusting smokers," aren't smoking in restaurants and bars the world is a better place?

JinkiesApril 16th 2009.

Hmmm, so that's profits going to charity rather than proceeds eh? Must be administration costs for the bouncers.

castlefieldApril 16th 2009.

Phillipines? I'll let you correct yourself.

AvoApril 16th 2009.

I'd much rather the co-op have the site than Tesco as they have a more ethical policy with regards the products that they stock and the investments that they make.

AnonymousApril 16th 2009.

What about Tesco's new application in Pall Mall House/Church Street, maybe a little step further into the NQ: http://tinyurl.com/damgks - so potentially two new food stores within metres of one another...not that it's going to happen of course.

castlefieldApril 16th 2009.


PeterApril 16th 2009.

Tipicle of tesco. Bunch of. May be sleuth would liuke to run and Manchester confidential would like to run a campoaign to bring Tesco off the top shelf they have placed temselves on. It is time tesco remembered that it is the customers that keep them going, Unfortunately despite a recent survey on BBC showing that tesco is the most disliked supermarket, there are so many idiots in the uk who voted that, but still use the place. When will people stop being sheep and show some action and stop using these crooks. Yes crooks, tney built there reputation on fairness, something now they have squeezed out every single small shop and garage in the country they feel so confident that they can be the first to raise te price of petrol and last to put it down. They thrive on the laziness of people to go that bit further to pay respectable prices. Next time you shop try running your shopping list through mysupermarket.com Tesco are no more than old fashion Bullies and should be taken off the streets.

esquiloApril 16th 2009.

Where's that Thoromanc? Are they going in the old Square Albert building?

DrakeApril 16th 2009.

Wasn't talking about serving, was talking about 'keeping'. Which is what happens at supermarkets, just as in cellars. Well, I have seen people serving themselves alcohol in Tescos, but they were Rangers fans and we don't want to go back there.

esquiloApril 16th 2009.

on a Tesco note: I see they've put an application in to take over the mostly empty West One in Eccles, refurbish one of the blocks for the few existing tenants and (rumour has it) a new Marks's store and rebuild the other block as a Tesco Extra.

JApril 16th 2009.

Fizzy red surely! Mind you, I've been served red wine in a whisky tumbler...Which is worse?

Smug-wine-expert JohnApril 16th 2009.

Philistines? They're just a rugby team.

Smug-wine-expert JohnApril 16th 2009.

By 'eck, you bunch of Phillipines. What about Beaujolais? A lot of young Loire reds? We in Britain are guilty of drinking our reds a little TOO warm anyway. Remember that room temperature was when rooms were probably a large baronial banqueting hall, lit and warmed by a large fire in a grate...well, maybe not all wine was consumed in such surroundings, but the ambient temperature was about 60-65F, which is about 15 to 17 in that new-ish fangled centigrade. I mean, for God's sake, are you really going to warm up your actual Beaune 1er Cru 2003 to drink it? So, here's a little experiment. Which should be fun, as well. But don't tell the government or the pesky Portman Group. Get 2 bottles of Brown Brothers' Tarrango. Bung one in the 'fridge and leave the other right next to the barbecue. About 1 hour later, open both and have a wine tasting. The warmer one will taste all jammy, a bit too sweet and a little flabby, while the cooler one will show all its crisp, juicy and lively fruit. I know which one I'd prefer.Cheers.

EditorialApril 16th 2009.

It was you're right and we've changed.

P DiddyApril 16th 2009.

The white wine is kept on the shelves and the red wine refridgerated so that you have to wait to drink them at home at the correct temperatures rather than be tempted to crack them open outside the shop.

BoredofitallApril 16th 2009.

And I work for the Co-op....Yes we own half of Manchester, and yes we actually employ half of Manchester too. And we are ethical so we can do what we like. Fact fans.NB: This is in jest....the fact I need to put this little note in makes me ever so slightly angry but will help to restore my future calm.

louApril 16th 2009.

Lovely spelling Peter.I used mysupermarket.com once and Tesco was my cheapest option. Not everyone hates them, I couldn’t live without my local metro which stays open until 11 and is within very easy walking distance.

mApril 16th 2009.

Yeah since losing out to the Co-op on the High Street site Tesco are now trying for a shop unit just around the corner and further into the Northern Quarter. See the map: http://tinyurl.com/d9p5m3

GunApril 16th 2009.

Brown Brothers Tarango how 1999/2000 Living Room

AeronApril 16th 2009.

As for a supermarket in the city centre, the empty Ilva store on Great Ancoats Street would make an ideal location but please can we have a Waitrose or Co-op? Tesco has forgotten what it's customers want. The food is dire and the staff are generally rude with a care-free attitude to customer service.

el beanioApril 16th 2009.

I didn't know about the 'fresh air tax'. I'm not a smoker but am outraged. What about people who just want to nip out for actual 'fresh air' or to give their ears a break? This is greedy opportunism at its worst and to donate to charity makes it sanctimonious at that. Very annoying!!

Tricky MickyApril 16th 2009.

You should come and see the act tonight if you get chance. You'll have a right laugh.

BenApril 16th 2009.

They may be ethical and fair trade but when it comes to banking - they're just like everyone else, bank charges for being a penny over your limit for even one day etc... eventually they closed my account down without any notice for this happening on two ocasions.

DrakeApril 16th 2009.

Depends entirely on the temperature of the fridge, Ben. Red wine should be kept at around 50 degrees, and at a fairly consistent temperature, hence many people use wine coolinf fridges to replicate cellars. Tescos can get very hot...

Big O knows BestApril 16th 2009.

why does anyone still smoke? Never fully understood smoking before the ban, now it just makes even less sense; it costs you a fortune to stink, look **** and kill yourself, and now you have to stand outside to smoke like a second class citizen. Do your self a favour and quit. Smoking Ban - I'm still loving it. Was sat outside Duke's last week with pepple smoking. Forgot how disgusting it is to have to enhale other peoples smoke and how anti social and inconsiderate it is to smoke in public.

DrakeApril 16th 2009.

I;m still bewildered that those campigning against tesco getting the site haven't made a peep about the co-op. Given the argument against Tesco was on its effect in local traders, how will this be any different. The Co-op doesn't have the commitment to employing local people Tescos does, or as nice food, but is just as likely to drive market traders out of business. Yet not a peep. Something to do with the co-op owning half the city perhaps?

east lancsApril 16th 2009.

I had to convert 50F to find out it's 10C. Why 10C/50F? Who says? Surely it depends on the wine itself? Some reds benefit from serving slightly below room temperature, some don't.

Smug-wine-expert JohnApril 16th 2009.

...it should've been Philippines. No?

TJApril 16th 2009.

The upside-down XMas trees was first done in Manchester by Ben Kelly at the Hacienda for a XMas interior many years ago. Manto would have copied this because they always did, as ETTG did for the North Pole, because they told me so.

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