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Sleuth: 21/01/2011

Four seater hot tub for 192 bus, Castlefield bulbs, Paul Heathcote cooks and emails from the Chief Executive

Published on January 21st 2011.

Sleuth: 21/01/2011

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.

Buspimps have sent Sleuth a flyer – click here. Buspimps. Ah yes. Tasteful. Buspimps are hiring out buses with sunloungers, a four seater hot tub, B&W outside speakers, a walk-in wet room, power shower, kitchen, bar with a 21 bottle Champagne chiller, flatscreens, leather couches, a bedroom (see the picture) and lots of other gadgets and gimmicks.

Sleuth hears that Stagecoach have bought a few to cover the Magic Bus routes in Manchester, although at the time of writing Stagecoach had failed to confirm this. Sleuth would love a splash about in the hot tub on the 192 with some of those lovely drivers.

Fallon falls back on excuses
Sleuth was intrigued by a claim of Michael Fallon, the Tory deputy chairman, last week. He said the announcement of 2000 job losses in Manchester on the day of the Oldham East by-election was ‘cynically timed to coincide with today's by-election, in full knowledge that a large number of those impacted by the news at Manchester City Council are voting’. Possibly so. But Sleuth wonders how many Manchester City Council workers live in the Oldham East constituency? Probably nowhere near enough to influence the result, not least given that Labour won a large majority on a poor turnout. Perhaps it was Fallon being cynical...or scrabbling for excuses.

Job's not a good 'un
Sleuth admires Manchester City Council's policy of making major policy announcements to its staff first, before the media gets its hands on hot news. Sleuth reckons the policy was stretched to breaking point last week with the bombshell news that Town Hall bosses would be shedding 2000 staff - around a fifth of the workforce - in the next 12 months.

Town Hall staffers who woke up on the morning of Thursday 13 January to the shock announcement were indeed informed first - an email from Sir Howard Bernstein with the title 'Financial position update' in the subject-box dropped into employees' in-boxes at 10pm the previous night.

Precisely how many council staff were at the desks at that time is not known...

Summer thongs
Sleuth got an email from Lucile, the lingerie shop on Police Street, this Thursday. Sleuth opened it to see if there was anything there for him. Not really, although the pictures were nice – we’ve included one below just in case you don’t know what a lady looks like. The summer collection included some summer thongs. “What’s the difference between a summer thong and a winter thong?” Sleuth wondered out loud. “Winter thongs are made from wool,” suggested Alex, a techie who seemed to know about such things. “Ah yes,” said Sleuth. After all Sleuth likes nothing better than on a warm summer evening slipping into his summer thong, and taking the tram to Bury Market to shop for black puddings.

Lingering lingerie tours
Speaking of Lingerie Sleuth was doing a guided tour with a group of worthies recently. Proud of the city he was showing the guests interesting buildings and describing important history and recent developments. On the route he stopped at Tib Street, Police Street, King Street and in Exchange Square.

It was under Harvey Nichols that one of the guests remarked, “We’ve so far stood outside three lingerie shops and lingered just over the road from some sex shops - interesting tour?” Sleuth thought back, the man was right: Agent Provocateur, Lucile, Harvey Nichols and Big in Amsterdam had all been viewed. Oops, it was a coincidence, Sleuth swears. Still it gives Sleuth an idea for an alternative tour.

Castlefield help required - bulb beautiful
Sleuth loves the fact that Castlefield Forum in the city centre has been given 800 bulbs to plant. All they need now are willing volunteers to help dig 'em in. If you’re available from 2pm on Sunday 23 January get along to Barca, with a trowel, gloves and a cheerful grin. Sleuth will pop down too (if childcare duties allow) and read English poetry with flower references from a barge in the Bridgewater Canal with a megaphone. Here's a chance for city centre folk to show they appreciate beauty and will gather their rosebuds (or perhaps crocuses) while they may.

Heathcote caught cooking
Our travel editor Neil Sowerby, no stranger to the finer dining tables, trekked up to Longridge to see how Paul Heathcote’s original base is faring. It's the high profile survivor after he flogged much of his restaurant empire to Living Ventures. The presence there front of house of former Lowry and Hilton restaurant manager Marc Whitley augured well for Paul’s ambitions to regain at least one Michelin star at the Longridge Restaurant.

Neil expected the 8-course tasting menu he ordered (there’s a half price deal on till the end of January) to be cooked by chef in residence Chris Bell. Cue the surprise arrival at tableside of Paul Heathcote himself in chef’s whites. His sidekick was poorly, so the Great Olive Presser was back at the stove for one night only. He really should do it more often, our spy reports. The meal was immense, particularly the ad hoc turbot topped with black pudding and the perfect duck egg. As for Marc Whitley – departed after two months. Obviously the freezing country air didn’t agree with him.

Alex Epstein – OK! magazine join in the fun
After Apprentice contestant Alex Epstein’s unfortunate circulation on cc not bcc of an email asking for work (click here) OK! magazine has joined the fun. On their web page (click here), they gently mock the hapless Epstein. The piece finishes with, ‘On the show, Alex famously said that if he was an apple pie, he'd be filled with oranges (something to do with thinking outside the box)’. Or the article nearly finishes there. After a line break there are four more little words. ‘Alex Epstein is single’. A seemingly random addition to the piece, but Sleuth suspects it was a further slipping in of the assassin's knife.

Life, the universe and everything
Sleuth learns of a quiz night on Thursday 3 March being held in Manchester Cathedral. The Cathedral’s asking for teams to enter, tickets are £7.50, contact Gareth Screeton here Proceeds go to a new lighting scheme in the Cathedral. Sleuth’s looking forward to the following questions.

1) Which is the correct God?

2) Is Heaven in the sky?

3) Can angels fly backwards in a storm?

4) Does the devil have all the best tunes?

5) Women bishops are sexy. True or False?

6) Is the soul in the head or the heart?

7) In 2011 is it fine to covet thy neighbour’s ox?

8) Snog, marry, avoid? The Pope, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Gordo.

9) Can Katie Price be considered evil?

10) Did Jesus really have a beard?

Tiebreaker: Which is the ‘best’ of the seven deadly sins?

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

GermaineyJanuary 21st 2011.

I must admit I love a bit of a towel down after a trip on the 192

N BarkerJanuary 21st 2011.

What? Heathcote caught cooking. Wow. I might go back and have a go at Longridge. Good for Paul he should keep it up.

Women bishopsJanuary 21st 2011.

Very sexy

Smyth HarperJanuary 21st 2011.

Although Sir Howard's message to staff was sent last Wednesday evening, there had been significant discussions beforehand. Senior managers were briefed the week before, who were then to speak to their teams. Earlier in the week the email was sent, a briefing note was sent to managers to share with staff.

So it's not quite right to say that staff "woke up" to the news - Sir Howard's email was one part of an ongoing and lengthy consultation process.

There was no political interference regarding the timing of the media announcement.

Smyth Harper
Head of Media
Manchester City Council

RougecheekJanuary 21st 2011.

The little piece above doesn't say it was political does it? And the story must have come from someone in the know.

Andrew RevansJanuary 21st 2011.

"covert thy neighbour´s ox"?

I would have thought an ox was a big too big to hide...

GodJanuary 21st 2011.

Yes I am the only true God

BandageJanuary 23rd 2011.

I once went out with a women bishop, honestly you couldn't beat it. Although when my bishop tried to join in the conversation she seemed to lose interest

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