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Sleuth 28/08/2009

Michael Portillo loses out to Muhammed Ali, tanks a lot, knife crime and inflatables plus dancing with Pride

Published on August 27th 2009.

Sleuth 28/08/2009

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.

Michael Portillo – the thinking woman’s crumpet
Sleuth was interviewed this week by Michael Portillo, ex-Secretary of State, ex-Tory MP and present-day broadcaster and writer. Portillo was up in Manchester working for TV production company Talkback Thames on a historical programme for BBC4 to be aired in the autumn. This is a history piece following the guidebook written by nineteenth century Manc, George Bradshaw. Portillo was a charming fella, friendly, intelligent, witty, a pleasure to be with. The lad’s got pulling power too. One lady in her fifties was almost swooning as she approached him and described how much she loved him on current affairs discussion programme ‘This Week.’ Actually she said she ‘absolutely loved him’ and reached out to touch him. Best of all though was the man in a suit, who did a double-take, turned back and said, “My mum still fancies you Michael.” He then retreated and Sleuth heard him mutter, “And she’s dead now.” Affection from that distance is the sign of a major breakthrough for any TV presenter. It’s what Jonathan Ross dreams of.

A tale of Michael Portillo and the boxer
Sleuth and Portillo were outside the Radisson Edwardian Hotel on Peter Street, aka The Free Trade Hall, merrily filming away. A mini-cab drew up outside the hotel. The driver rushed over and said to Portillo: “Is this where Muhammad Ali is staying?” Ali was in Manchester as part of a UK-wide charity gig. The driver clearly hadn’t the slightest inkling of who this famous non-boxing figure was: and he was standing right in front of him. Sleuth was offended and embarrassed. “Don’t you know who I am?” said Sleuth.

The ancient origins of Pride
Ah Pride is upon. Sleuth always remembers his favourite moment of Pride confusion. He was showing a group of gay travel writers from America round Manchester during one Pride weekend. Emerging from Selfridges in Exchange Square Sleuth and his writerly friends were confronted by an unrelated event: a troupe of prancing, flower-bedecked, bell-jangling morris dancers from Saddleworth. “You didn't have to lay this on,” said one journalist. Sleuth attempted to explain the ancient tradition of morris dancing but the guys weren't having it, saying: "Look Sleuth, they've all got beards, they’re banging phalluses together and wearing flowers - we've got to get this back to California."

Sleuth’s enigmatic sign of the week
Manchester Arndale and this charming invitation: ‘Why not use the Foodchain’. Sleuth, when he visits the Foodchain, always likes to stay somewhere between the sheep and the lion food outlets.

Guardian forgets its Manchester roots
Sleuth was intrigued by the 1974 Soviet invasion plan for Manchester – currently on display in John Rylands Library. This was splashed all around the media. The Guardian ran with a full page on Wednesday about the story and betrayed its Manchester origins splendidly – it nearly always does unless the glorious David Ward is writing for it. Commenting on the charm of seeing Manchester localities written in the Cyrillic alphabet, the ex-Manchester Guardian said, “The chart, with its Cyrillic names such as Salford, Irmston and Hulme was...drawn up with conscientious attention to method typical of the Soviet bureaucrats.” Irmston? Where’s that? Clearly there wasn’t quite the same attention in the Guardian office as there was in the Soviet one.

Tanks a million
Confidential also ran the Soviet map story (click here). The best rant was this one: Albert says,With traffic lights and speed cameras every 5 metres on Washway Road [and Chester Road]. It would have been years before Russia posed a threat.’ Very good. Oddly enough Soviet tanks have already come crawling up Chester Road. There’s a T-34 tank inside the Imperial War Museum North and a T-55 tank outside the same venue. Here’s a picture of the latter being held back by a small boy.

Knifes and Bouncy Castles
Sleuth has received this press release about an event at Total Fitness, Altrincham this Saturday. He wonders if there isn’t something of a confused message going on. ‘A former RAF self-defence instructor Andrew Durant, 47, who used to train special operations personnel in unarmed combat, will be demonstrating how to survive a knife attack. Andrew said: “It really saddens me that there is so much knife crime on the streets.”’ The release then goes on to say ‘There will also be pole dancing demonstrations, a bouncy castle, face painting [and] BBQ.’ What range: something for paranoid adults and something for the kids. Sleuth hopes the knife event isn’t held next to the castle.

Ashes to Ashes
The Manchester Evening News carries a regular column during the summer by Jim Cumbes, the Chief Executive at Lancashire County Cricket Club. This week's column on Tuesday was notable for what he didn't say rather than when he did, for despite the momentous events on Sunday when England regained the Ashes - and with two Lancashire players in the England XI - Cumbes couldn't find it within himself to mention the thrilling events at the Oval. Could his churlish reticence have anything to do with the fact he is still smarting from the decision of the England and Wales Cricket Board to remove Old Trafford from the Ashes roster, awarding this year's First Ashes Test to Cardiff? Or could it be because former England coach Peter Moores, sacked ignominiously earlier this year, is now Head Coach at Old Trafford, and congratulating Andy Flower, Moores' successor, just wouldn't have been, er, cricket?

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

OAugust 27th 2009.

Did I read that right? Did I waste my time reading something that told me the Guardian mis spelt Urmston. F U C K me that is mindblowing... Thanks for that.

PhilboAugust 27th 2009.

Would the bollards on Cross Street have been able to stop a Russian Tank? Can someone try...

chelle belleAugust 27th 2009.

Rob, with a tank you can park wherever you bloody well want!

MelfiliniAugust 27th 2009.

I tell you one thing, this Sleuth guy doesn't half talk some crap. Does he get paid to write this? Really? He must write the worst articles in Manchester, i like Manc confidential but fck me this guy needs his hands blowing off so he can write no more. Maybe thats abit harse, suppose could actually get someone to write factual and important articles. Get Sleuth Out!!!

RobAugust 27th 2009.

I think Castlefield would have held out the longest. Where would the Soviets park their tanks?

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