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Sleuth 27/07/07

Floods of foolishness, leader up to her neck in it and more about that bull

Published on July 26th 2007.

Sleuth 27/07/07

Peel Holdings impose Congestion Charges
Peel Holdings hate the congestion charge, they've campaigned against it, put posters up in their lovely Trafford Centre about it, attended meetings on the subject, gone on the radio and the TV in their just-say-no crusade. Sleuth was amused then by the news this morning that Liverpool John Lennon Airport are allowing people to buy their way past the check-in queues. A £2 fee will get you into the fast lane through security. Liverpool John Lennon Airport is owned by Peel Holdings - seems like they've already got their own congestion charge in operation.

Leader issues
Trafford Metropolitan Council is a mealy mouthed local authority concerned with scrupulously counting paper-clips and fining people for thinking big. A Conservative council, it wasn’t a surprise to Sleuth when it made the political decision to be the first to break ranks from the other Manchester authorities and to vote against the Transport Innovation Fund, aka congestion charging. The one really talented elected Tory officer there, Council Leader Sue Williams, didn’t, Sleuth hears, agree with the decision of her party. Allegedly. Could her position as leader have been compromised? Only time will tell but Sleuth thinks Cllr Williams should soldier on, she's Trafford's best hope.

Stockport on Seine
PR is a funny business. The folks who represent Eurostar were in town the other day filling the locals’ heads with times and stats. Apparently once the new St Pancras opens in November, Manchester will be six hours ten minutes from Paris (after a short hop between Euston and St Pancras). Very good. Best fact from the hapless PR people was that Stockport would now be a shade under six hours from the Gallic capital. Sleuth thought about that and turned it around. He rang up Paris Tourism and informed them that soon their city on the Seine would be six hours from the town under...er.. .a grubby brick viaduct. So, quoth Sleuth, has Paris got enough brochures and information on Stockport to cope with the demand? Silence. If only Gallic shrugs were audible.

Castlefield chat
Sleuth is popping down to Castlefield next Wednesday for the Manchester Confidential debate on the future of that famous but decayed area. The evening starts at 6pm on 1 August at Dukes 92 and follows on from the amazing response to Phil Griffin’s article 'Killing Castlefield' on this site. He bumped into James Ramsbottom, proprietor of Dukes 92, the other morning. “What are you up to?” enquired Sleuth. “At the moment, mowing the grass, tending the flowers, and making everything look perfect for the Manchester Confidential evening, that’s what,” said James almost stuffing a rake up Sleuth’s jacksie. “We wouldn’t want people to think we’re shirking our responsibilities.” The power of the media eh?

Trench foot first
Sleuth sometimes really doesn’t understand the need for people to repeat clichés – he avoids them like the plague. So taking a tour of visitors around Manchester last Sunday he was amused once more to hear a guest say, “Manchester, it’s always raining isn’t it?” The speaker had an accent which was distinctive, “so where are you from sir?” asked Sleuth. “Gloucestershire,” said the man. Doh. Cue laughter at the expense of the man from the dry desert-like county. Best line belonged to a nursery rhyme savvy visitor, “You wouldn’t know Dr Foster?” he asked.

Stella stays up all night
Last week Sleuth dropped into that newish shop on Withy Grove. He wanted to read the story about doctors calling to increase the price of alcohol because we’re all drinking too much. Sleuth thinks doctors should leave well alone, so it tickled him when he came across this sign outside the same shop. Just next to the Printworks as well, that haven of responsible drinking. Well, a can of Stella helps occupy the time whilst avoiding the fights in the taxi queue.

More bull
Manchester International Festival Director Alex Poots was chatting to Sleuth the other day. Told him that the controversial Il Tempo del Postino – which featured the bull at the Opera House - was going to be cancelled five times. In particular the Health and Safety folk and the RSPCA wanted it closed down. Sleuth likes Poots alot and likes him better now that he knows that he demanded the show must go on unchanged whilst under immense pressure to ditch it. “Funny thing is,” says Poots, “the RSPCA wouldn’t come and see the performance but just wanted it closed down unseen.” The Royal Society for the Prevention of Critical Assessment perhaps?

Suffering an art attack
Even the best are capable of slip-ups though. At a technical rehearsal during the festival Alex Poots was heard to say: “This is so incredibly exciting that we have such a number of artists of such incredible calibre. It's so interesting because Manchester has zero concept of the visual arts.” Sleuth was thinking about getting annoyed but then realized that the main exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery is Kylie, Hacienda is at Urbis and the Lowry’s doing a show called the Myth of the North complete with flat caps. None of which is much to do with art. Worse, to the world we are artistically represented by the depressing minor painter LS Lowry. That Poots is a genius.

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

Rob AdlardJuly 26th 2007.

Jonathan, we really are going to fall out if you keep misrepresenting the views and comments of Conservative politicians on ManCon.....do you actually have a quote to prove that? You seem to suggest that Sue somehow was reluctant to oppose the CC, when actually she wished the party had been more outspoken in its opposition.....you also fail to show why Trafford and Stockport voted against - its because they actually asked people who live there what they thought....and the results were something like 80% opposing the CC so they voted against it. This is called dempcracy. In Manchester we clearly have something different.

James Chapman-KellyJuly 26th 2007.

You want to see good srt? Proper art? Real paintings? Visit Troubadour Gallery. http://www.troubadour-gallery.co.uk The gallery artists are so good that the Manchester 'Luvvies' won't give them a chance as regards mentioning them in the press etc. Perhaps it's because its a proper Art Gallery dedicated to showing high class art. There are more clients from London than Manchester. Sad eh? But the show must go on.

champagne SocialistJuly 26th 2007.

I couldn't agreee more re: Kylie at Manchester Art Gallery and yet more dreary Madchester/Hacienda tat at Urbis. Get yoursel' along to Castlefield, the Whitworth, Bureau, Cornerhouse, International 3 and the more underground studios of the city. There is a strong visual culture here and that needs encouraging and growing!

Jo NJuly 26th 2007.

Re: the visual arts in Mcr - yes! THere are lots of newer/smaller shows but when is there ever a decent major exhibition or retrospective here? I seem to spend all my time travelling to Liverpool and London to see art, as do many thousands of tourists I'm sure...

Jonathan Schofield - EditorJuly 26th 2007.

Urbis forgive Sleuth, he can be rash. And the Hong Kong thing was very good indeed. 'Best of Manchester' not sure about...

tony jonesJuly 26th 2007.

Toons : The Animation Art Gallery in the Lowry Shopping centre, is one of only a handfull of companies in Europe Authroised to show and sell all the animation art from all the Hollywood Stuios, yet you never hear anything about them in the press.Theyve got a Simpsons exhibition on at the moment, its free as its only small but you get money off vouchers to go and see the film, so its worth popping in.

UrbisJuly 26th 2007.

I'm tempted to point out that the exhibition prior to 'Hacienda 25' at Urbis was the best of new art from Hong Kong, but, hey, that finished all of fifteen days ago, and I realise memories are short. And currently on is 'Best of Manchester' which does indeed feature visual art...but, oh well, easier to criticise and all that.

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