Week 2: in which Sleuth attempts to carry water into a pub

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


During a remarkable turn of events at this week’s council planning committee, the call was made to defer a decision on an unpopular new residential scheme (pictured above) within Manchester’s historic Castlefield basin until the committee had actually been to look at the site.

According to local community group, the Castlefield Forum - who pushed the council to take the unprecedented move to leave the Town Hall and walk five minutes down Deansgate - the site visit will take place in around one month’s time, once the committee have had time to put together a sub-committee to figure out how the bloody hell they get out of the building.


Sleuth was walking to work on Friday morning when he encountered a lost polar bear. “Excuse me,” said Mr Polar Bear, “do you know the way to all the snow? You see, I’ve been on Twitter and Facebook this morning and it would seem Manchester has endured almost apocalyptic levels of snow, and what with all the ice melting back home, thought I’d take a punt on setting up around here."

“Oh I am sorry,” said Sleuth, “this happens every year, it’s just an excuse for people who live more than a quarter of a mile from work to spend the day watching Lorraine at home in their pants.”

“Oh,” said Mr Polar Bear, “then what am I to do?”

“Well,” said Sleuth, “you could inexplicably set-up on a barren patch of tarmac in Salford and stare at the Tesco over the road.”

“Alright then,” said Mr Polar Bear. And he did.

.So, er, where's all the snow?


Sleuth is pleased that one of the most impressive people he’s ever met, Maria Balshaw, boss of the Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Art Gallery, is set to get the big job in the arts as the Director of the Tate. Good news for them, bad for us, but in some ways it’s a shame that the role has been couched in terms of her being the first woman in the post, rather than the fact she’s remarkably talented. Still, given that last May Manchester, the city of the Suffragettes, became the first British city council to have more female than male councillors, the celebration of another act of balancing employment to equality, seems apt.


Sleuth read about the appointment of Balshaw to the Tate not only in Manchester Confidential and the Manchester Evening News but also in long, glowing articles in theGuardian, the Times, the Financial Times and so on. The most bizarre headline came from the Telegraph which headlined it ‘Maria Balshaw, yoga instructor, inspired choice to run the Tate’. Yes, she does yoga, but perhaps her experience in running major galleries was more to the point. At least they did better than the Sun, the Mirror, the Mail and so on who couldn’t be arsed with the story. Mind you it’s only a job that carries responsibility for tens of millions of public pounds so it doesn’t really matter. Better thought the Mail to carry a feature where ‘Katie Salmon shows off her jaw-dropping curves in a skimpy purple bikini’. Another victory for women.

.Balshaw does yoga, amongst other stuff


Sleuth is impressed by the scale of the massive new building that will be the £110m Factory. This was given planning permission by the city this week and will sit on the banks of the River Irwell close to the Museum of Science and Industry. To quote it will be ‘the flagship cultural venue for the North designed by world-leading architects Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), founded by Rem Koolhaas’. It'll also become the new home of Manchester International Festival. Sleuth particularly adores the opening act on the opening day, titled 'Woman Erupts From Volcano'.



Sleuth loved the story this week about how the newly declared Rwandan king, Emmanuel Bushayija, the nephew of the late exiled King Kigeli, was currently residing on a housing estate in Sale (read it in The Guardian here). But what Sleuth loved the most was not Bushayija’s humble circumstances, but the response from his unknowing neighbour, Wendy Otoo: “It’s funny because my family are from Ghana on my Dad’s side, and my uncle there is a king.” What are the chances?


Following a flood of new openings around Northern Quarter in recent years, long-standing Manchester rice ‘n’ three institution, This & That, has got in on the action with two new openings of its own. “We couldn’t have all these young upstarts with all these new bars and restaurants stealing all the limelight in Northern Quarter… we’ve been here thirty bloody years!” said the owner. “So we’ve come up with two, sparkly new openings of our own, one for the boys and one for the girls - they're inspired by New York via Skandinavia with a B&Q twist."

Two new openings on Soap StreetTwo new openings on Soap Street


Sleuth decided to watch an FA Cup match while his partner was shopping in House of Fraser. He thought, ‘I’ve never been into Mulligan's for ages, let’s try it out’. Mulligan’s is an ‘Oirish’ theme pub on a back street between San Carlo and Bridge Street. Sleuth was carrying a plastic bottle of sparkling water. “Can’t come in with that,” said the bouncer. “That’s ridiculous, I’m going to buy a pint and watch the match,” said Sleuth. “How do I know what’s in the bottle?” said the bouncer. Sleuth held the bottle up to the light, there was half a centimetre of liquid remaining. “Not going to get pissed on that even it were absinthe,” said Sleuth. “You still can’t come in with it,” said the bouncer. “In that case I won’t come in at all and you’ll lose a sale,” said Sleuth, principled as ever, turning on his heel to find a more reasonable pub. The bouncer looked satisfied with himself for a job well done.


Sleuth was just off Oxford Road and in the mood for eating. First up was that cracking bargain of a tiffin lunch tray from Zouk for £7.95 that fills you up perfectly, in this case with three curries, rice and naan. Joy. Then while walking past The Salisbury pub late in the evening, Sleuth bumped into Roger Ward, proprietor of the Chop Houses, with a private party. Sleuth had a pint with them and was tempted by one of the pub’s pickled eggs (see this story) and then caught sight of pickled onions too. So he bought one of those as well. They cost pennies and together with the pint made for a very lovely composition. Sod foie gras, this is the way forward.

.A pint, an egg, an onion
ZoukZouk's cracking bargain lunch


Sleuth was amused by the Editor-at-Large’s story concerning ‘Roger Fuckebythenavele’ and the earliest written use of the word 'fuck' from 1310. The story which involves an outlaw confused by how fornication works was discovered by Paul Booth, a historical researcher. When asked if Confidential could use the story, Booth wrote, ‘Yes, I'd be happy for you to disseminate my finding - so to speak.’

.Where does this go then?


Sleuth was pleased to see the office of Lib Dem councillor for Didsbury, John Leech, pick up on the editor’s recent article regarding dubious council pay increases, whipping out an enraged press release quick sharp. Cllr Leech is the city’s sole opposition councillor, with Labour holding 95 of the 96 seats at Town Hall, and it's beginning to show…



"Bloody hell", thinks Sleuth, "even Manchester's usual gaggle of soap actors and reality TV desperados are better than the 'former members of Keane'"... then again.