Sleuth has a chat with a dead German communist on his birthday week
Sleuth is a sideways glance at the city each week. It's the truth, but Sleuth's truth. Sometimes Sleuth even gets serious, but not often... @mcrsleuth
Sleuth: "Where have you been all these years? On and off you lived in Manchester for 22 years from 1842-1869..."
Friedrich Engels statue: "Well, first I was in London, then after my death in 1895 I was ashes in the English Channel. Then, after the Russian Revolution in 1917, with Karl Marx, I started turning up all over the place. Of course, we were the fathers of modern communism. There were hundreds of me in the Soviet Union and subsequently China, Vietnam and so forth. I became very well-travelled. After WWII I popped up in lots of Eastern European countries. Now I’m back here. It feels strange, very different."
Lots of the people around here think I'm Tony Wilson, but I've never done coke with the Happy Mondays
S: "It was the artist Phil Collins who found you split in half on a farm in Ukraine and brought you back here as part of the 2017 Manchester International Festival. What do you think of him?"
FES: "I think he’s a right little Tory shit. He made the band Genesis rubbish when he took over as the frontman and then did those dreadful songs such as In the Air Tonight, Easy Lover, and Another Day in Paradise?" (starts to sing in a whining voice: 'I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord...')
S: "That’s not the same Phil Collins."
FES: "Is it not? Then as a logical Teutonic type I say the foolish man should change his name. It’s confusing. Just as me being placed in Tony Wilson Place is nonsense - yet more illogic. Lots of the people who work around here think I am Tony Wilson, but I've never done coke with the Happy Mondays, I merely invented a whole world political credo. Ha, who said there was no such thing as German sarcasm?"
S: "What do you think of Jeremy Corbyn?"
FES: "He’s too old and far too left for my liking. He looks like a geography teacher too. And his beard is a pathetic stubby half-hearted affair. Like him, it’s weak. Can you imagine him leading the dictatorship of the proletariat?"
S: "Yes about your beard, were you an early adopter of the messiah beard and what do you think of all these hipsters copying you?"
FES: "Yes, Karl and I really ‘owned’ that look. As a bit of a ladies’ man it was good to have the female comrades queuing up for a good stroke. And then they’d stroke the beard...ha ha das ist a gute one, nein? My beard was so thick and lush they have made a climbing wall of it at Salford University. Still, it was tiring being a communist all the time and having to be serious. Today, with this beauty, I’d run a bar in the Northern Quarter and charge my bourgeois customers ridiculous amounts for schooners of odd tasting beers. The other bearded hipsters wouldn’t stand a chance."
S: "Speaking of hair. Do you think Joachim Low should get his hair cut?"
FES: "Of course, as the manager of the German national team he looks ridiculous, like one of the Beatles from 1964, but going grey."
S: "What’s your favourite Manchester song?"
FES: "There are so many. True Faith by New Order, Live Forever and Masterplan by Oasis, Take Over the World by The Courteeners, Patience by Take That and, for Karl Marx, Bigmouth Strikes Again by the Schmidts."
S: "Has Manchester changed much?"
FES: "Oh yah. It’s less smokey now and people aren’t coughing all the time. Less political too, so many people now only have political opinions if it makes them look all soppy and sympathetic to someone less fortunate. What happened to political principles? But I miss some of the old buildings such as the Thatched House pub where me and my German mates would slap on the lederhosen, clash our glasses together and sing hearty German songs. Albert's Schloss has nothing on us - sie sind erbärmlich."
S: "Aren't you lonely out here by yourself?"
FES: "It is strange standing here alone, normally Karl would be with me. Although, I don’t miss listening to him going on and on about his boils and asking me for money all the time."
S: "Any last words?"
FES: "Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of the World Unite!"
S: "You’re quoting yourself there aren’t you?"
FES: "Yes, it’s the last words of the Communist Manifesto, we wrote part of it in Chetham’s Library here in Manchester. We’d write in the morning, then get pissed in the afternoon, champagne often."
S: "So you were the original champagne communist?"
FES: "When you’re planning a revolution you might as well enjoy yourself before it all comes crashing down. Prost!"