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Sleuth Wk 21: Italia Closes And Razor Man Sharpens Up

The Manchester absurdist sails through the city

Published on May 19th 2013.

Sleuth Wk 21: Italia Closes And Razor Man Sharpens Up

SleuthSleuthSleuth is a sideways glance at the city every week, it's the truth, but Sleuth's truth. He's several people all at once. We give £25 for every story/rumour and piece of absurdity you find for us to publish. Sleuth sometimes even gets serious. We ask for the money back if any legal action follows. Follow Sleuth on twitter @mcrsleuth 

Has Italia Closed? 

The well-known Italia restaurant - formerly Pizzeria Italia - on the corner of Deansgate and Blackfriars Street appears to have closed. Gordo heard this from a little bird, scooted down there, pressed his nose against the window and took these pictures. The 1970s gaff appears to have gone. This is a shame, the restaurant had recently radically improved the food.

Img_4546[1]Papered up windowsThe closure shows again the precarious nature of the food and drink business in 2013. It perhaps also illustrates that dining out is a complete experience if it is to be successful. It's food, drink, service, ambience decor combined. The last was a problem with Italia, there was a certain charm to its 1970s film set looks but perhaps a larger degree of shabbiness.

Lots of stories got told in Pizzeria Italia.

One of Sleuth's favourites revolves around a well known food critic who wandered in drunk, ordered a pizza and wine and then fell asleep with his forehead on the table. The staff put his pizza on one side of his head and his wine on the other. They placed the bill close to where the top of his head rested. Then they politely waited for him to wake up as other customers moved in and out.

He opened his eyes with just enough time to knock back the wine, pay the bill, before charging out of the door to get the last train north out of Victoria Station. He left the pizza. Priorities and all that.


Italia emptied

The Gay Postman Never Really Rings Once

Sleuth's phone rang. A member of staff wanted to transfer the caller. “Who is it?” asked Sleuth. “A gay postman, said he needs to talk to you,” said the staff member. “Wow,” said Sleuth, “this must be some story. Put him through.” The call was transferred. “Is that a gay postman?” asked Sleuth. “Er, no,” came a voice, "it’s Dave Haslam." Gay postman - Dave Haslam, you can possibly understand the aural confusion from said staff member. "You're thinking of change of lifestyle are you Dave?" said Sleuth to the author, public speaker and DJ.

Morley's Vast Tome And Endless Sentence

Dave Haslam who is not a gay postman was calling about an event he's chairing. This is when he'll be publically 'in conversation' with Paul Morley, the Stockport-born cultural commentator. The event is at Gorilla on Whitworth Street West on 14 June and you can book here. Morley is talking about his entertainingly 'random' (as the kids say) book called The North (and almost everything in it)

Sleuth has a tactic with new books. He judges whether they're worth reading by casting his eyes over the first and last line of work. Morley's first line is a good one: 'This is the first step, the first brick, the first drop of rain.' Nice.

Sleuth panicked when he saw the last sentence of the book. When he'd counted back from the final full stop, he got to three hundred words and realised there were another three hundred words to go. In one sentence. Very James Joyce. Despite the length of that last sentence the editor will be reviewing the book. Sleuth is too frightened.

The North has a very long last sentence

The North has a very long last sentence

Health And Safety Event Of The Year

Sleuth is never a fan of how the city council puts ugly steel fences around Albert Square whenever there's a big event there. The reason is to limit crowd numbers but to Sleuth (a freelance health and safety officer, grade 7.8) it seems overly cautious and aesthetically disastrous. This was the case with United's victory parade on Monday (click here). So Sleuth was pleased to see fans had taken things into their own hands and put all the health and safety crowd control measures at Albert Square in stark perspective. Here they are re-enacting on scaffolding on Deansgate one of those human castles the Spanish so love. 

British version of the Spanish 'human castle or tower'British version of the Spanish 'human castle or tower'

Sleuth's Best Unintentionally Funny Shop Name Ever 

Did the RSPCA think through this sign in the Greater Manchester town of Bury properly? Er...no. Sleuth is particularly concerned how all the ladies featured in this picture are looking down as though at a recently dug grave. 

How very cruel


How very cruel

The Region's Soon To Be Best Veg Shop 

Sleuth was down on the banks of the Irwell, in central Salford, fifteen minutes walk from Deansgate, trying to spot brown trout, when he found this gem of an idea. A organisation, called Whole Box, are planning the most charming veg shop that will eventually be stocked with veg grown fifty metres away in a kitchen garden area and inside an old mill on East Philip Street. There'll even by polytunnels hothousing food on the mill roof. The whole thing will feature as an event at Manchester International Festival - click here. But this isn't a one-off project, Salfordians in the area can expect beautiful veg grown at the bottom of their street permanently. Talk about knowing your onions. Or in the case of the picture below, your rhubarb.

Whole Box's lovely shopWhole Box's lovely shop

The Biosphere Foundation gets goingThe Biosphere Foundation gets going

Sleuth’s Takes An Upper Cut

This is Johnny the Barber from Limerick. He’s the fastest talking, coolest barber in the West. He’s opening up in Manchester this year and all his barbers will look as sharp in full formal shirt and tie. They may or may not wield a cut-throat razor like Johnny. Sleuth appreciates the smartening up of the city. First Mantax promising suited and booted cabbies (click here) and now Johnny’s sharp barbers. Sleuth approves. Who next to get formal? 

Johnny the barber sharper

Johnny the barber sharper

Sleuth's Most Blocking Bus Stop

Every seven days or so Sleuth is stopped in the street by policemen, firemen, concierges, barbers, vegetable growers, drunken critics, people hanging off scaffolding, gay postmen, animal grave-diggers and the entire population of The North and asked, "Where can we find the best mis-positioned bus stop preventing a clear view of a major piece of concrete Modernism from the artist William Mitchell?" 

"Why," says Sleuth, "that would be on Corporation Street, in front of New Century House. The bus stop blocks the view of the processional way to the building and the superb concrete work by William Mitchell on the left hand side."

And to prove this about the bus stop Sleuth showed this picture to the policemen, firemen, concierges, barbers, vegetable growers, drunken critics, people hanging off scaffolding, gay postmen, animal grave-diggers and the entire population of The North.

Blocking the view with a bus stopBlocking the view with a bus stop

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

SimonMay 19th 2013.

It's new century house, the co-op has had a bad week get the name right. Come look at 1 angel square, it's incredibly.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 19th 2013.

awful perhaps?

StephMay 19th 2013.

Can't believe Italia has closed, it was a welcome relief from the rest of the NAFIs which have sprung up around the city. It always seemed quite busy too.

Kevin KMay 19th 2013.

I agree about Italia - a shame

AnonymousMay 20th 2013.

Had the most amazing lobster ravioli at Italia a couple of months ago, and the service was great. Gutted!

AnonymousMay 20th 2013.

That scaffolding surely isn't designed to have 10 men on every plank. Could have been a nasty accident there and then people would have said "why didn't the police stop them?"

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 21st 2013.

Get a life. Life's a gamble. HAVE SOME FUN!

ADOPTEDMANCMay 20th 2013.

I walked past Italia the other day as the furniture was seemingly re-possessed and there were a lot of angry Italians on the street outside shouting.. sad day!

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