SLEUTH is a sideways glance at the city every week. It's the truth, but Sleuth's truth. He's several people all at once. Sometimes Sleuth even gets serious @mcrsleuth


Sleuth was amused this week to see so many fall hook, line and sinker (including some of the national press) for an admittedly well-executed Manchester jape. A parody Twitter account had emerged, claiming to be from the folk behind Manchester’s latest mono-menu restaurant, The Gravy Bar, which would soon be launching in (where else?) Northern Quarter, close to hipster brethren such as cereal café and the cat café. The new ‘deluxe cuisinery’ would offer customers six different types of gravy to choose from - including ‘Founders Reserve’ and the ‘ancient and secretive Lost Inca’ - which could be enjoyed as a cocktail served in jam jars, with ‘quintuple shallow-fried chips’, or poured into branded hipflasks by highly-trained ‘Gravysmiths’.

And yes people, real people, hundreds in fact, swallowed it like a Bisto-dipped baby carrot. Including Sleuth’s pal who said over a pint (of ale, not gravy), “But it could be true couldn’t it?” “It could,” said Sleuth, “but it’s clearly not.” “But how do you know, I mean really know?” asked Sleuth’s pal. “Well,” said Sleuth, “it is April Fool's on Saturday... and according to their menu their house beer is called ‘Penweiss’.” “Ah," said Sleuth’s pal, putting down his pint, "fair enough."


Sleuth was at the fine event in Irlam this week arranged by that fine philanthropist Neil McArthur (read here). The guest was Michael Portillo, ex-Tory minister, railway journey presenter and a general good egg. They want to bring back to life a section of disused rail track over the Cadishead viaduct on the Ship Canal between Irlam and Timperley. This would be for pedestrians, cyclists and might include a heritage rail track or even a Metrolink spur. It’s a cracking idea. Portillo did a speech from within the restored station in Irlam. He was wearing his usual flamboyant outfit of brick red trousers and trademark bright green jacket. Sleuth posted a picture and one witty Tweeter @stelingard commented ‘I didn’t know Mr Portillo played golf, let alone that he has won the US Masters. Respect.’

Yet that wasn’t the funniest part of the occasion...

Michael Portillo Sleuth
US Masters champion, Michael Portillo
Irlam Bridge
They want to bring back to life a section of disused rail track between Irlam and Timperley


Portillo in Irlam recalled some of his political life. ‘I’ve only been mentioned once in recent weeks in the media. This was over what’s called the Portillo Moment, which involves a man eating a bucket of shit in public.’ He was referring to his shock election loss in the 1997 General Election. But his best story involved Mrs Snooks at a fundraising tombola who requested a signed photo as she was a fan. “When I was back at the office later in the week,” continued Portillo, “I found a letter from Mrs Snooks asking if I could remember to send the photo. In brackets after her name she’d written ‘horse-face’. I thought what lovely self-deprecating humour, so in the same spirit I signed the photo with the message ‘To my very dear horse-face, best wishes Michael Portillo’ and I sent it off. Later that day my personal assistant asked if I’d seen the letter from Mrs Snooks. I said I had indeed and I’d replied already. My personal assistant then said, 'I hope you found the description I’d put in brackets next to her name useful in remembering who she was.' It’s this sort of incident that explains my less than successful political career.”


Manchester Confidential has developed a new method for scoring restaurants. If we like it we employ a man with a large moustache to skip past it looking very positive, as in this picture of that very man skipping past the excellent Mei Dim.

Sleuth Happy Man
'Ah, they must really like this place'


Manchester-based property giant Bruntwood this week celebrated the official opening of its £8m flagship redevelopment, Tap, with an exclusive launch party, attended by more than 200 plus movers and shakers from the creative, design, media, business and property industries, plus a latte and an iPad. The glittering event, which showcased the innovative, collaborative and fibre-optic water faucet, was introduced by Bruntwood CEO Chris Oglesby, who said: “We are delighted to officially launch this newly evolved giant tap and to have attracted such a wealth of creative customers. Tap has been specifically designed to be intuitive, interactive, highly-connected and to encourage development in creatively-minded businesses of all sizes, as well as to spurt out lattes on demand.”

Elsewhere, Bruntwood launched some new gaff called Neo, where a lady with waves for arms cawed at a wall.

Neo Bruntwood Tap
Tap was launched this week by Bruntwood
Neo Launch Sleuth
Caw, caaw


Sleuth wants everybody to go along and decide which they prefer. There are lots of Emmeline Pankhurst maquettes in Manchester Art Gallery and we can all decide which we like best. The Mancunian founder of the Suffragette movement is to have a statue in her home city, a corrective to all the Victorian gents on plinths. Sleuth likes her speech from 1913 in which she said:

'You have two babies very hungry and wanting to be fed. One baby is a patient baby, and waits indefinitely until its mother is ready to feed it. The other baby is an impatient baby and cries lustily, screams and kicks and makes everybody unpleasant until it is fed. Well, we know perfectly well which baby is attended to first. That is the whole history of politics. You have to make more noise than anybody else, you have to make yourself more obtrusive than anybody else, you have to fill all the papers more than anybody else, in fact you have to be there all the time and see that they do not snow you under.'

Fine words indeed. Pankhurst never mentioned lying though, such as putting a big NHS lie on a battle bus, the 21st century lesson and history of politics.

Sleuth Pankhurst Statues
Emmeline Pankhurst maquettes in Manchester Art Gallery


Speaking of history, Sleuth was reminded this week with the arrival of some Viennese guests to Manchester of the correspondence between Sigmund Freud and Samuel Freud, the Mancunian son of his half-brother, Emanuel. Emanuel had emigrated to Manchester from Leipzig when Freud was only four yet the family kept up a healthy communication. Freud later made a trip to his Manchester brethren in 1908 and wrote in a letter to his then fiancée Martha that it had been a decisive influence and his desire was “to become an Englishman”, “in spite of the fog and the rain, drunkenness and conservatism.” It’s a good story although not with a happy ending for poor Emanuel who died in 1915, falling from a train somewhere between Manchester and Stockport. The original Freudian slip you could say.


Sleuth was in the no-man’s land between Rochdale Road and Oldham Road. There were lots of wonderful murals for the Cities of Hope project and there was this building, presumably part of the Run Out Of Paint project.

Sleuth Half Painted Building
'Just say it's art, Dave'