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Sleuth: 23/01/2009

Antony Gormley agrees with Confidential, Band on Wall goes on and on, the grubby world of beer tickers, and John Stalker does a caper

Published on January 23rd 2009.

Sleuth: 23/01/2009

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.

B of the Bang finds Guardian Angel
Antony Gormley agrees with Confidential. And Sleuth. As this website keeps banging on we should save the ‘Bang’. Gormley who created ‘the Angel of the North’ at Gateshead and ‘Another Place’ at Crosby has written to Manchester City Council saying, ‘It is a great tribute to Manchester that this ground-breaking work was commissioned. To allow it to disappear would be a loss not just of an inspirational artwork but also of the council's nerve.’ In November we wrote, ‘If ‘B of the Bang’ is to go it would be wrong. There is too much deferential, mealy-mouthed and dull public art around. ‘B of the Bang’ is so much better than these, it should be saved.’ All this follows notice that the Council is ‘reviewing’ our dear 'Bang' which may lead to its destruction.

Petition the Town Hall
Sleuth’s going to try and have a word with Gormley about 'Bang' next week. Maybe we should get lots of leading artists and art commentators nationally and internationally to sign a petition and get it off to the Council. What do readers think? Sleuth thinks, whatever happens, we should spend a large sum of money in making sure ‘B of the Bang’ gets fixed – or re-cast. And we should spend a larger sum of money moving it to Heaton Park by the M60, or into Wythenshawe Park close to the M56. Place it somewhere prominent on a gateway site, make it our ‘Angel of the North’. Perhaps the Princes of Abu Dhabi could put aside a month’s wages from one of those galacticos they want to bring into Manchester City: move ‘Bang’ out of the way so they can build a hotel with gold taps and a thousand fountains - sort of thing they like back home.

B of the Band
Sleuth loves Band on the Wall. One of his fondest memories is tottering half pissed in the late eighties to watch an mbira player from Zimbabwe play some soulful ditties in the venue, before tottering on to Gullivers pub where a Scottish gentleman tried to sell Sleuth his wife for a fiver because he needed to get another round in. Sleuth turned the offer down. He was with his girlfriend and might have caused offence. Point is that Band on the Wall was a big part of Manchester life and we’ve missed it.

Actions speak louder
But despite the fact that Sleuth loves Band on the Wall (BOTW) and the people fixing it up, can we lay off giving minute by minute updates on its condition. The refurbishment is getting like a couple of mother-in-laws, or a Chorlton half-man, during a pregnancy, “How is she? Have the waters broken?” This week Sleuth got an email from people who’d been appointed to act as the venue’s PR agency. Sleuth doesn’t care. Nobody does. Meanwhile following another press release, the MEN had a story which ran this week, with, ‘£4m refit is nearly finished’. Wow. Really. Are we going to have other stories soon such as, 'BOTW really getting there' and 'BOTW, the finishing touches'. The venue is due to open in September. Brilliant. Now let’s shut up about it until it does. There’s a danger here of building the place up for a fall. This opening is getting more epic than the one which preceded Ithaca’s.

Tickering off
This weekend is the Winter Ales Festival in Manchester: a huge national celebration of all things beery. Already real ale pubs are getting packed. Yesterday we got reports from the New Oxford, the Smithfield and other boozers that the ‘tickers’ were massing, drawn in by the appeal of Sleuth’s favourite drink. There’s also been a big increase in the technical capacity of these chaps. Tickers like to collect the world’s beers – you have to drink at least a third of a pint - and then mark them off in a booklet. It's serious spotter stuff. But there have been developments - see next story.

Underhand technological deallings
2009 has seen quantum leap in the use of PDAs, Blackberries, and so forth amongst tickers. Not only can men (it’s only men) now tick off an ale and rate it, they can take a picture of it too, archive it, or send off the image to fellow tickers. It can all get a bit dark though. Sleuth got a report of this conversation in the Marble last night: “I suspect Brian’s been taking pictures of other people’s ales and passing them off as his own. I’d be careful with what he claims to have tasted.” Brian is clearly a right bastard.

Daft name, daft man
Sleuth got a message from the delightfully named Robin Invest from the National Magazine Company in London. The name’s not as mad as that of Dr Gene-Jack Wang of New York's Brookhaven National Laboratory, as reported in Thursday’s Food and Drink Round-up, but it’s not bad. Mr Invest had some news about how Manchester people are the worst at keeping New Year’s Resolutions. He entitled it: ‘It’s official, Manchunians have no will power.’ Bless. What’s that mean? Who are Manchunians? Does he mean Mancunians or Manchurians. Maybe it’s a clever allusion to our Chinatown. Sleuth doubts that though and suspects good old fashioned pig ignorance.

Stalker tunes in
Sleuth probably should have known this but former GMP Assistant Chief Constable John Stalker is a singer and a drummer. On 27 February he’s doing a gig with his group Seven (‘The Big Band Sound with John Stalker on Vocals and Drums’) at the Alderley Edge Hotel. Tickets are still available as well: three course meal, £65, for Francis House Children’s Hospice. For some reason the above news about John Stalker unnerved Sleuth. He had a vision of other top coppers in bands. He couldn’t sleep over the one of Sir James Anderton dressed like Ozzy Osborne, thrashing ‘an axe’ around stage, tight leather trousers, bearded mug screaming into a mic. Yuck. One thing is certain though, given the generation of police office Stalker comes from in Manchester, the petit fours at the Alderley Edge Hotel meal will definitely not be replaced by boxes of Quality Street.

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

MattJanuary 23rd 2009.

"The Big Band Sound with John Stalker on Vocals and Drums"If this wasn't a scene from Phoenix Nights, then it bloody well should have been.Brilliant.

J E TaylorJanuary 23rd 2009.

What's a Chorlton half-man?

Peter O'GradyJanuary 23rd 2009.

Great idea about getting endorsements from prominent artists to save the Bang and I agree with Michael West, let's have a Confidential Poll. My own preference is for it to stay where it is. Read two letters recently in support - the first said that Manchester is full of metalurgical and welding Engineers who could "fix" the problems, the second letter suggested surrounding the structure in a see-through box to lessen the wind vibrations which are causing concern. Both, I feel, worth investigating.

AnonymousJanuary 23rd 2009.

I've always liked the B of the Bang. The location was far from ideal, but it should definitely be saved. It's not as though we're inundated with quality modern artworks in Manchester!

Jane NortonJanuary 23rd 2009.

I reckon a Chorlton half man is so in touch with his feminine side he's almost forgotten his maleness. If that's so, then I know lots of them, and not just in Chorlton. It's deeply unattractive.

J SpenceJanuary 23rd 2009.

I think that must be a half man. One with those limp soft handshakes and who remembers the fabric softener on shopping trips...most men only remember the food and the booze. I had a boyfriend who remembered household goods and he was so wishy-washy I blush to think I went out with him for six months.

MattBIKEJanuary 23rd 2009.

I agree with Sleuth - 'B of the Bang' should stay and a gateway location might not be a bad idea but when by the motorway and not near Piccadilly station?Then again, it's the B representative of the first sound out of the starting gun so maybe a sporting location is better fitting???

wandontheballJanuary 23rd 2009.

Sleuth, you miserable old steptoe...

LesleyJanuary 23rd 2009.

I agree that the B is fabulous and shouldn't be taken down but, leave it where it is. I live near Heaton Park/M60 and I think it would look wrong in that area

BeermanJanuary 23rd 2009.

Tickers - you have missed the most enjoyable aspect of tickerism. Having a sip and then pouring the rest of the halfpint into a plastic bottle, for later examination. Get a life;drink pints I say.........

Michael WestJanuary 23rd 2009.

Can we have a poll on the B of the Bang sleuth? Would love to see it on Heaton Park.I'm puzzled as well at a Chorlton half-man, geezer that drinks half pints or a guy so in touch with his sexuality he can feel the pain?

maryleeJanuary 23rd 2009.

B of the Bang should be saved. It is a challenging and ambitious feat of design and engineering and is a striking piece of public art. A criminal waste of time and money to pull it down. But have the council spent the settlement fee they won in court? Wonder if Peter 'Original and Modern' Saville thinks it should be saved?

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