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Sleuth 29/05/2009

Metrolink revelations, city centre living and a man makes a right male hen of himself

Published on May 29th 2009.


Sleuth 29/05/2009

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.

Home sweet arch
Sleuth was down in Castlefield at Pioneer Quay the other day mooching around as part of Confidential’s campaign to get the area back up to scratch. He was taking photos when a dishevelled gentleman approached. “Are you from the Council?” he asked. “No,” said Sleuth, “but our magazine is trying to get Castlefield sorted and I’m taking pictures as part of that. Are you a local?” “Yes,” the man said with a vaguely Cockney accent, “ I live under that railway arch, over there. And it’s filthy, rats, litter, it’s dreadful. You know sometimes I have to empty the bins myself and put the bags by Deansgate otherwise they get forgotten.” Sleuth said well done and then told him that but for the recession Ask Developments had been going to use his arch/home as part of mixed use construction scheme. “You can see the artist’s impressions on their website,” said Sleuth. “Can you?” said the homeless gent, “let’s have a look.” And with that he whipped out a top of the range Nokia N65 and logged on to the web and found the pic. “To think my old arch could look that good,” he said, with pride.

Hood and home
Speaking of home-making (see above story) Sleuth was walking along the prom at Arnside, north of Lancaster on Bank Holiday Monday. He was pleased to see the office of R&B Estate Agents. He went in and enquired about properties. The very informative man behind the counter rubbed his gold medallion and explained that, “We have a wide variety of cribs most with excellent off-road parking in which to store one’s whip.”

Ticket barrier
Sleuth was chatting to the Metrolink Director, Philip Purdy, this week about the system. Sleuth keeps being caught out by the ticket machines at the stations which were designed by evil pixies and refuse to work with normal British sterling. It’s fun to watch people licking their coins and using all sorts of magic processes to make the coins heavy enough to work. The note readers are the most evil feature, you have to iron your fivers and tenners to make them smart enough to be accepted. Sleuth learnt from Purdy that in September the old machines will start to be replaced by new ones, not designed in the Middle Ages, and with card readers. By Christmas all the old ones will be gone. Good news thinks Sleuth.

Ticket machine bashing
Sleuth had a suggestion for Mr Purdy. He suggested that Metrolink throw a party. “Given all the grief people have suffered at the hands of these machines, all the fines they’ve had to pay when they nipped onto the tram without a ticket because of these idiotic things, why not do this: make a big pile of them in a park somewhere and ceremonially smash them to pieces whilst a crowd of Metrolink passengers stand by, applauding and cheering? Metrolink Director, Philip Purdy, looked at Sleuth and smiled and thought. Then he looked at the press officer in the room and said: “that’s an interesting thought. That’s certainly something to look into.” Sleuth’s going to start a campaign to make it happen.

Inspectors inspected
The full interview with Philip Purdy, the Metrolink Director, and a plain-speaking Aussie, is published on Confidential next Wednesday and covers the city centre works, the ticket charges, the expansion plans and also the behaviour of Inspectors. Asked, “are you happy with the Inspector’s attitude to customers?” Purdy replied, “No, I am not. They need to be far more customer focussed.” Sleuth applauds the answer, that level of self-awareness is reassuring and one of several positive developments outlined in the forthcoming interview.

More Metrolink
By the way this is how the new trams will look. Sleuth is pleased that Metrolink is going for a strong Manchester Confidential yellow. Sleuth also wonders who that red haired lady is there, she looks familiar.

Guardian to compete with the MEN
Sleuth is puzzled and intrigued by the fact that the Guardian Media Group has announced plans to launch their own Manchester website. This would ‘connect you with your local community, cover local issues and provide you with information that was highly relevant to your area.’ Sleuth thinks competition is good and would make the web magazine market in Manchester much healthier. But he does wonder about the implications for the Guardian owned MEN. In effect, the Guardian and the MEN, would be directly competing against each other and themselves on the web. This would undermine the Manchester organ and split revenues. Very odd. Sleuth would love to know what’s going on. The full story was on the How-do media website: for a gander, click here.

Hush Hush Hoop-lah
Sleuth's transatlantic cousin, La Hush Hush, sent him an interesting telegram the other day. Apparently a songstress acquaintance of those five freemen of Bury, aka Elbow, made the sea crossing from the City of Angels this week to take up residence here in the City of Music. The acquaintance in question is a certain Jesca Hoop, who as well as possessing a voice of pure crystal, a startling array of seasonal hats, and a CV detailing the time she once spent being a nanny for Tom Waits' offspring, has recorded a new album featuring members of Elbow, and is set to support the band on tour this summer. Sleuth will be slipping along to sneak a peek at her before that at Night and Day on 1st and 22nd June.

Naked shopping
Sleuth was intrigued by last week’s promotion at The General Store in the Barton Arcade. This involved turning up naked and then you got money off deals. Only one person turned up fully naked. And of course it was a man. This is him here (click here) (not safe for viewing in work), we’ve pixelated the offending part – Sleuth hopes our photo-shopping expert gets this right. The man who turned up naked looks a right dick though.

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

YorkieMay 29th 2009.

For the latest on No Guardian Website for Manchester Really, go here:www.how-do.co.uk/north-west-media-news/north-west-publishing/the-guardian-looks-to-local-web-market-with-branded-site-for-manchester%2c-headed-by-hartley-200905275474/

SparkyMay 29th 2009.

I agree with Ben but would go further. Like, how about they take all the Inspectors (that currently patrol the system like little Hitlers) giv them handheld ticket machines that take cards (just like they do on trains).That way they would stop people being able to jump the tram and not pay for a ticket, increasing their revenue whilst paying the same in wages! People would also feel much safer as there's an inspector on EVERY tram.Simple

Ali McGowanMay 29th 2009.

But he didn't have an iPhone!!!! He had a Nokia, you fake!! ;) Errr, cor blimey guvvna, the new trams almost look like they are ready for the 21st Century, as opposed to the horrendously ugly current ones. I hope they get a lick of paint too. I like the sound of Mr Purdy - if he can make Metrolink as regular and efficient as the Melbourne tram system (which I rode several times in January) then he is a very good man, possibly as nice as God. Now will someone please hand him several hundred million pounds, so that we can put trams back on ALL the streets? It works so well in Melbourne, it makes you wonder why the hell we dug 'em up in the first place. We are officially retards*. *No offence to real retards intended.

DaveMay 29th 2009.

Yes, either conductors or proper barriers like on the tube system, that is the only way forward. The ones intentionally grabbing a free ride are the ones that cause problems for everyone else.

DescartesMay 29th 2009.

Hmmm, so the tramp had a bit of a cockney accent, you say, is living under an arch in the posh end of town and had a nice mobile phone? I bet he was a hedge fund manager a few months ago.

Not so swankyMay 29th 2009.

Surely it should be ****** trams?

shinealightMay 29th 2009.

Is the red-haired lady on the tram Metrolink Barbie?It's about time we had some decent looking trams, the old ones could make a Mini Metro look good.

CluffyMay 29th 2009.

P.S - to the naked shopper - where did you get your wax? I am in need of a new salon and it looks like they did a really neat job. Thanks.

JinkiesMay 29th 2009.

Lytham **** Anne's

emma graceMay 29th 2009.

Oh Descartes, there's no infraction of rules....no-one's barging on there, elbows out, pushing old dears out of the way. They just clearly have nothing better to do.

Trebor MentheMay 29th 2009.

Yorkie, that's exactly the link on the Sleuth story above. Pay attention would you? I got excited that something new had happened.

EditorialMay 29th 2009.

Oh Mark, you should know that the sub's been off (your comments with regard to the typos in the Crescent review were spot on), but we think you know who the plain-speaking Aussie is. Meanwhile Mixie that Flexity Swift rant is hilarious.

emma graceMay 29th 2009.

Another reason to get rid of the inspectors is that they are a bunch of sour faced jumped up jobsworths...at Victoria they actually stand there saying "please let people off the tram before you get on". We are ADULTS......I do not need to be told how to board a tram thanks very much.

emma graceMay 29th 2009.

Inspector Victim is right...I use both the tube and the tram on a regular basis and the tube puts the tram system to shame. Yes it's not very friendly or comfortable, especially in summer, but it's more frequent, the machines are always working AND take cards and you know that everyone on the tube has paid. I don't mind paying for the tube either because it doesn't let you down. If the sign says it will be there in 3 minutes, it's there in 3 minutes. I'm far happier knowing my tube fare is going towards maintaining that system, than knowing that part of my fiver a day for the tram is going towards those gorillas' salaries.

DescartesMay 29th 2009.

Maybe you just look like trouble , I know I'd have my eye out if you were about Emma ;P

DescartesMay 29th 2009.

emma, clearly you do need telling, I can't see them saying that unless some sort of infraction of the rules is happening

AnonymousMay 29th 2009.

Thought you said you had pixelated the offending part of the naked man? you've left his willie on view. How bizarre. And way too buffed and waxed - what was he thinking? men should be men! Hairy!

TraminformerMay 29th 2009.

I hope you asked Mr Purdy about the rumour doing the rounds A lot of the work needed on the tracks and platforms in the city centre is due to the fact that the s****y new trams fronts are not angled (like the present ones) so can't get around the tight bends in the city centre without crashing into the platform or a passing tram. Shame they didn't spot that before they ordered them.

AnonymousMay 29th 2009.

Are there any nice inspectors working on the trams?! The very first time I ever got a tram, I didn't have a ticket as I genuinely didn't realise I couldn't buy one on the tram, and naturally sod's law meant it was one of the rare days the inspectors were working so I got fined. I still see the same woman who fined me and the way she looks at me when I'm waiting for the tram I swear she still wants me dead just for that one mistake. Sour faced old cow. What I'm confused about most is, why on earth are there so many inspectors crawling all over St Peters Square these days? I've honestly never seen them work so much in the whole of the past three years as I have since the track replacements started! And why do they think we need so much help getting on the tram just because it leaves from a different stop? Hmm, let me see... do I want to go to Eccles or Altrincham? Oh god I can't cope! Oh wait, it's exactly the same choice as before... I particularly love the excessive use of barriers all over the shop and the fact that they've separated Alty and Eccles line passengers so they can't see each other, presumably in an attempt to stop brawls breaking out when the Eccles lot get sick to death of waiting for the Alty trams to leave so they can finally get on their tram which has been at the stop for fifteen minutes already!And finally on a rather pessimistic note, does anyone else think that they've got no hope of finishing this by the start of September? They're a third of the way through the time, but they've barely dug up any of the track yet. I'd give it til the start of next year myself...

minxieMay 29th 2009.

You daft buggers.... the red haired lady is called Flexity Swift. It says so on her little placard in front of her. Quite an apt name if you believe what DisillusionedDan said....

YorkieMay 29th 2009.

Sorry about the dodgy link, Trebor. Latest news was posted on Friday 29 May, so the link in the main copy IS out of date.

MoMay 29th 2009.

Zouk are no where any good authentic curry houses. I'm gonna stick to the two proper curry houses. EastzEast & Akbars.

Ben EvansMay 29th 2009.

If Mr Purdy is Australian, why doesn't he take a hint from the Trams in Melbourne and put ticket machines on the Trams. Then you wouldn't need to miss trams trying to buy a ticket in time.

AdamMay 29th 2009.

The tram is fairly efficient when it's working and all the lines are open and there's no frost (or a slight breeze etc ;-)).My beef is with overcrowding and non payers. The inspectors have to have some attitude because of the crap they have to deal with. I don't blame em.

North LancsMay 29th 2009.

Clitheroe

TraminformerMay 29th 2009.

Your rude word sensor is overheating! For clarification, I referred to the new trams as s*w*a*n*k*y

RichardMay 29th 2009.

Good luck to Mr Purdy, he has inherited a shockingly bad tram system, with filthy stations, chav free riding passengers, poor reliability and expensive tickets. I just hope the system improves dramatically. We need plenty more trams, barriers, more inspectors and some pride in the network. I can't stand it - I prefer to take the car as things are.

AdamMay 29th 2009.

Gotta add my thoughts on the new trams. Please make them have sideways seating giving more standing space. It makes so much more common sense.Just back from Madrid where the metro is totally awesome and cheap too. All trains have sideways seating. It makes more standing room due to there being a wider corridor, which makes it easier to get on and off and stops people selfishly taking up two seats.

BoredofitallMay 29th 2009.

Some of the isnpectors are just horrible though. Mind you, that seems consistent with a lot of bus drivers etc, maybe it runs in Public Transport. It's true, they do deal with a lot of idiots, but don't take it out on the innocents just trying to gte from A-B

CluffyMay 29th 2009.

The red haired lady looks like Sarah Jessica Parker... same nose and chin.

mark mMay 29th 2009.

who is the plain speaking aussie who is going to be interviewed with philip purdy?

YorkieMay 29th 2009.

Oops - link doesn't work properly. Just go to http://www.how-do.co.uk and fiddle about a bit or search for the latest.

Disillusioned DanMay 29th 2009.

The red haired lady looks like she got on at Piccadilly... after walking down from the business end of Fairfield Street... wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Inspector VictimMay 29th 2009.

The inspectors are incredibly prejudiced. I remember using the tram to get to my Dads work after school once and the inspectors came on, I scrambled for my ticket as a large, horrific looking woman tapped her foot in front of me demanding the ticket which was somewhere in my giant sack of a school bag. Apologising for the wait and absent minded explained ‘it’s in here somewhere!’ to which I received the appallingly sarcastic reply of ‘I’m sure, that’s what you all say!’ with an accompanying hawk glare. Thankfully, I found the ticket (much to the dissatisfaction of the inspector) but I was appalled by the encounter and have frequently noticed the different treatment of people by the vicious SS-like metrolink army, and their particular focus on ruffians like innocent school children! Although, I did once have the pleasure of seeing a pensioner shout ‘Get a real job!’ after being harassed for being too slow to produce a ticket… On a technical note, I have also ridden the Melbourne tram system and it is excellent. I agree about the ticket machines being on the tram itself, however annoyingly those did not accept notes! I don’t think a tram line running down each street is viable here though, Melbourne is a modern city with built on a grid with wide, ruler-straight streets, whereas we already have small, riddled roads and a crap one way system. It would possibly work if we just made the centre car-free, but surely, that would cause uproar. Now I’m at university in London and I would even go as far to say the tube is better than the metrolink; more frequent service, Oyster card > paper tickets (less likely to be lost, convenient online top-up, works out the cheapest fare for your journeys per day), cleaner(!), better sideways layout and cut throat machinery for no nonsense (violent barriers so nobody can enter without paying, guillotine like doors meaning you have to be the iron man/woman to keep them wedged open and slip through, delaying the train…).

emma graceMay 29th 2009.

He's not completely naked...he's god socks on.

BoredofitallMay 29th 2009.

Sceptically - I shall believe in these new fangled fantastic working ticket machines and highly efficient tram system when I see it.......

Rude Word Sensor TesterMay 29th 2009.

S****horpe

Grammar policeMay 29th 2009.

Conductors ARE the way forward

Not so swankyMay 29th 2009.

The ManCon word sensor spoilt that! Grrr. How about *w@nk* trams? Surely not as offensive as that full frontal bargain hunter? ;)

IanMay 29th 2009.

Heh, I grew up in Arnside... Nice to know your coverage is expanding, Gordo should review the fish and chip shop there, it's (or was) the best in the land....

AnonymousMay 29th 2009.

I like the new trams, but why did they use a model of a prostitute in the doorway? Is this some kind of new unannounced feature for the Wythenshaw line?

Never GoMay 29th 2009.

Full Retard

CraigMay 29th 2009.

I hope he was a hedge fund manager a few months ago

ooeer missusMay 29th 2009.

MORE mens willies please. No ladies willies. Thank you.

Jenny JamesMay 29th 2009.

I have never seen anything as offensive as that naked shopper. I don't blame Mancon for putting it up (so to speak), fools like that need to reap the wind of the publicity they seek. What a dick as Sleuth said.

Rude Word Sensor TesterMay 29th 2009.

****ing Prestwich

gunaMay 29th 2009.

customer service on the trams is rubbish full stop. Drivers are miserable, the whole metro vibe seems to be to treat all customers as fare dodging criminals. The 'inspectors' stand around looking intimidating, arrive on a tram being intimidating, and to be honest, THEY look like the fare dodging criminals!....Metro rarely if ever keep customers informed of delays, announcements being few and far between. There tel customer service works ok Mon-fri (but they are really unfriendly, at weekends they have no supervisors on so are totally inadequate. It's such a miserable exp. They should def have discounted fares for us on the Bury line, because of works, we have to walk the city to get to our workplaces. The bus replacement is a joke and involves, yes, more waiting. They apparently put posters up at stations that tell of forthcoming line closures etc, but at my station, Prestwich, you buy your ticket, then go upstairs to see the poster that says 'tram stops at crumpsall this sunday, bus replacement in operation' and woh betide if there is a Man city match on or a parade of some sort because then the bus replacement comes to a halt...you guessed, with NO announcements from Metrolink......

YorkieMay 29th 2009.

For the latest on No Guardian Website for Manchester Really, go here:www.how-do.co.uk/north-west-media-news/north-west-publishing/the-guardian-looks-to-local-web-market-with-branded-site-for-manchester%2c-headed-by-hartley-200905275474/

AnonymousMay 29th 2009.

I used to get the Eccles tram to work every day with my monthly pass. One time it was out of date by a few days and cos I had kept all my old tickets the inspector didn't make me pay. I once heard someone say that they never buy tickets cos the fine is cheaper than buying them every day.The metro line does need to be run better. The Sheffield one is great! Conductors is the way forward!

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