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Sleuth 20/06/2006

Socialism, the I-Spy Book of Naked Cyclists and reclaiming the Midland

Published on June 20th 2008.

Sleuth 20/06/2006

Militant tendency
Sleuth bumped into a very casual looking Sir Richard Leese last week, kitted out as though he were off to do a spot of weeding in Sleuth Gardens in Albert Square’s Garden Markets. After greeting each other, Sleuth introduced his walking companion a Dutch journalist. “We’re doing a tour of radical Manchester,” he said, “you know, the Suffragettes, Peterloo, the TUC, Free Trade.” Sir Ricardo looked at Sleuth, “aren’t you a bit conservative for that?” Sleuth was offended after all he is the original Manchester radical who takes the piss out of everyone. But it was the Dutch journalist who a short time later said, “If this Sir Richard Leese is a socialist leader of the city why did he want to accept a knighthood?” Interesting one that.

Bittersweet Albert Square
Speaking of Sleuth Gardens, (if you’re confused click on this link) there’s a really good way to combine the food at the Garden Markets festival in Albert Square and this website’s own splendid oasis there. Get yourself a bratwurst, sit on our bench and pluck a few chives from the borders (or one of the the herbs, thyme perhaps) and add to your big sausage sandwich. Beautiful.

Briton’s needs protection
Sleuth hears rumours that the plan to move the Briton’s Protection pub on Great Bridgewater Street is very much alive. It seems that the lovely old pub might still suffer the indignity of being put on a raft and rolled over to the adjacent Jury’s Inn about three metres away. This would give the developer a larger site to build on, to the west. It would also provide them with the perfect excuse to make a ‘mistake’ and then demolish the lot. Either way the pub’s cellars and much of the atmosphere would be lost. Talking this over with a friend not so long ago, the friend had a great suggestion: “Why not put Jury’s Inn on a raft and move that towards the Briton’s Protection, it’s such a pile of shite nobody would care if it collapsed.”

Chopper scares girl
Confidential staff were collectively put off their teas by the naked cyclists last week who rode around the city centre to point out that we should all ride our bikes, as it’s nicer on the planet and better for the environment...blah, blah. Sleuth wondered if this might result in the first hospitalisations through chafing? Another Confidential insider posed the legitimate question of “How come it’s only mingers who want to go naked in public?” Meanwhile another more delicate young lady from the Confidential team was almost traumatised by a guy who came right for her with his chopper.

Storage space enhanced
Green issues raised their head in a novel form recently with a city centre residents meeting. One resident went to the Town Hall recycling event and asked what he should do about food waste. It was suggested that apartment dwellers should put wormeries in their bin storage areas. Nice idea, thinks Sleuth, and maybe compost heaps in atriums. Perhaps a cow on the roof to provide dairy products, hens in hallways, and sheep to graze the lawns outside.

The I-Spy Book of Naked CyclistsOne of our readers sent in this pic of the naked cyclists mentioned in the last Sleuth above. We’re thinking of getting a jigsaw made. Here’s a little Sleuth I-Spy competition based on the classic children’s books. Take a look at the picture and then find:

  1. The cycling corpse (or the Bodyworlds exhibit with skin on) for 5 points.
  2. The cheat with the rucksack for 2 points.
  3. The cheat with the high visibility jacket for 1 point
  4. Russell Brand for 3 points
  5. The only woman in the group (the other cyclist chaps love her) for 4 points
  6. Some publicity seeking cocks for 10 points

You’re barred
Urbis has been doing sterling work with Moss Side youngsters in an initiative called Reclaim which seeks to ‘reclaim’ the area for them in lots of positive ways. There were loads of success stories including one bright young black gentleman who was rewarded with a place at the Manchester Business Awards in the Midland Hotel kitted out in full formal rig. Sleuth hears that it was going along swimmingly until our smartly dressed youth on being spotted by security was promptly given his marching orders. It seems that Moss Side isn’t the only area of the city that needs reclaiming.

Gordo, Manchester’s greatest bon vivant and food reviewer for this site, stumbled into the Confidential office the other day. He looked as though he’d been out at the Circle Club until 4am again. “Where have you been then?” asked Sleuth. “To the Circle Club until 4am,” said Gordo. “And how did that happen?” “I was coming home from an event at the Malmaison, and popped into Grado for one and then....” “Why did you do that?” asked Sleuth like a fussy Mother hen. Gordo looked a bit shame-faced. “Because I can’t pass anywhere that’s open,” he mumbled before he settled down in his office into a starter of bacon sandwich followed by main of bacon sandwich.

Sleuth’s rant of the week
This week Sleuth was particularly impressed with a Confidential ranter by the name of Bland who put forward a question to Manchester City Council's Chief Executive and Passenger Transport Authority boss, Sir Howard Bernstein, for Confidential's exclusive congestion charging Q&A (click here). Exercising proper debate, as requested, Bland wrote: “Where do i buy one of these Blue Disabled Badges that allows me to park my Bentley free all day on Deansgate?”

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

GordoJune 20th 2008.

And what food reviewer would that be French Fan?

too many shoesJune 20th 2008.

Dear Gavin, local opinion is polarized about Spinningfields, but as Howard rightly points out it’s just one of a number of attractions and diversions in this great City of ours. And surely we should celebrate that diversity. Tonight I may feel like a margarita in the Northern Quarter, or half a cider in the beer garden at Cask. Or tomorrow it might be lobster linguine and a glass of something fizzy in Carluccios. I don’t want to come across as too much of a Pollyanna, but I love the fact that we have such an amazing array of places to choose from. Stop being so “glass half empty”.

Phil TaylorJune 20th 2008.

Spinningfields- it's like an elephants graveyard for chain restaurants. They all seem to be clamouring to throw themselves lemming like into the Irwell.The Midland! Well, for a start they could do something with the Midland French. It's like visiting an episode of what the Edwardians did for us. Fantastic space, it just needs a good designer to remake it, get rid of the 1950s formality, and have a full 21st Century menu. Who keeps a flambé trolley in 2008? It could really be something, but compare it to the Lowry or Harvey Nicks pitching at the same level.A certain local newspaper gave it the same rating as a curry house in Chorlton, time to bring it up to date.

French FanJune 20th 2008.

I now feel complimented, not bad for a married and far too old foodie !! all in fun though xxx

too many shoesJune 20th 2008.

Can’t believe Eyck has jumped ship from the River Room. I think he’s terrific. Does anyone know where he’s gone to? Answers on a postcard please (or rant if this is easier).

too many shoesJune 20th 2008.

No it's much more boring than that Smiler. I'm a lowly civil servant unfortunately. And not even in a glam department either. In my department everyone (me excluded) wears cardigans and has a careworn expressions on their face. Great pension though; so all's not lost! Only 27 years to go : )

too many shoesJune 20th 2008.

Hmmmm? I'm not so sure French Fan. A nice jaunt to sunny Portugal might be just the ticket.

HowardJune 20th 2008.

Gavin, I think wishing ill on a huge development that is generating employment and finance for the city is rather myopic. To imagine that establishments such as Odd in the Northern Quarter or The Briton's Protection will suffer a loss of business because of competition from Spinningfields is a nonsense. The city is made up of all different types of people with different tastes. The city has a proud history of tolerance; display a bit yourself and accept that just because you don't like something it doesn't mean that it should suffer annihilation. That part of the city could never sustain a string of independents. Their pockets are just not deep enough. Spinningfields is quiet because it isn't finished!Some people like Giraffe. Some don't. Live with it.

SmilerJune 20th 2008.

Too many shoes .... Do you happen to work for Ha Ha!!!

S7June 20th 2008.

What a lot of ignorant and prudish people work at Manchester Confidential - you should be ashamed of yourselves!! Really, the quality of writing on these pages is rapidly going downhill - seriously - which idiot gave you a job?

too many shoesJune 20th 2008.

Blimey “Young”, you’re easily put off aren’t you?! Surely Haha bar and grill can’t be blamed if some of their clientele are snotty buggers. You shouldn’t give those types of people the satisfaction of having impinged on my social life. Personally I’m a belligerent little cow; so I’d dig my heels in and go back all the more.

GavinJune 20th 2008.

Just commeting on the spinningfield piece which presumably is a paid for advertorial as we're not allowed to comment on it but shouldn't we be celebrating that its dying on its arse and empty every evening. manchester thrives on it independent spirit so why should we want customers deserting other businesses struggling to set new places up in the city centre for this corporate hell of mediocrity. its a bit like london isnt it. stradas, gbk's, giraffe's etc etc. all very bland, all corporate chains and all killing the soul of any city they set up in. shame.

EloiseJune 20th 2008.

One week we're condemning Tescos, next we're supporting the corporate giants occupying Spinningfields. To think I was lambasted for suggesting that people make up their own minds about where they shop. I think Spinningfields is a nice area occupied by very mediocre eateries, which is a damn shame. Perhaps if it had a bit of grass to sit on......;)

youngJune 20th 2008.

I went to Spinningfields for something to eat last night with my girlfriend after we'd finished work. It was teeming down so we decided to go into the nearest place which was Haha Bar and Grill. On walking into Ha Ha Bar and Grill everyone (about 15 really horrible looking middle aged people, and one especially disgusting woman) turned and looked at us like we were cr*p and they were ACE for drinking in there, it's a chain bar not El Bulli for god's sake.This REALLY annoyed me so we left and now I'm never going back to Spinningfield

Phil TaylorJune 20th 2008.

Well, compare the Midland with downstairs in Abode, and see what a difference a modern approach makes. The Lowry River Room, well, let's see what happens now Eyck has gone?The Hilton, well, the dining room doesn't have the soul of the Midland does it?I'm with you on the no service charge approach. A tip is a reward for good service, not an 'optional' tax imposed by the restaurant.

French FanJune 20th 2008.

You know who I'm talking about, at least it wasn't you.I'm going to try The Lowry again this week and see how they are coping without Eyck.

Mark Garner, The PublisherJune 20th 2008.

That would be me S7 :-)

French FanJune 20th 2008.

I believe he has gone to the Ritz Hotel in Lisbon Portugal, (a bit too far for a dinner out!!)

FiJune 20th 2008.

Have to agree with Gavin here. Spinningfields realy does not seem to have taken off. It is so bland, every restaurant serves virtually the same menu. I walk through Spinningfields almost every night and I have yet to see any retaurant with more than two or three tables occupied. As is the case in Manchester city centre, the rents are so stupidly high that only the faceless chains can afford the space - MCC does nothing, zero, zilch to encourage small independent businesses in the heart of the city - I note Shimla Pinks have abandoned the idea of moving there.

French FanJune 20th 2008.

Is this an invite ??

French FanJune 20th 2008.

Leave "The French" alone, it is an oasis in a city that has had limited choice of fine dining and especially since the closure of The Establishment. I was in the French when the so called food critic was there, and he appeared to be somewhat under the influence of the wine list by the way he tottered/stumbled out of the restaurent, his views were blurred and in no way reflected what is a fine restaurant. There many people in town who crave this type of dining, just you try to get a reservation on spec on a Friday or Saturday night, their waiting list cannot be that wrong.That atmosphere is always pleasant, and the attentative staff first class, which is a rarity in this town, all this and no added service charge which is becoming the sad norm these days.I am not normally this verbose but the French needs to be defended.

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