Week 45: FREE Banana Fritters... but only for monkeys
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's festive cheer of the week
Sleuth was discussing this week's opening of the Christmas Markets with colleagues in the office. "It's too early," said one, "by the time Christmas comes around I'm sick to death of them." "Oh I love 'em," said another. "Don't think I've been in the last four years," said someone else. At that moment, in walked Mark 'Gordo' Garner, Confidential's increasingly irritable publisher. "The Christmas Markets... I'm fucking sick of it," he said, kicking a chair. "The beer costs a fiver and tastes like piss, the sausages taste even worse, everything's shipped over from China and marked up 800%, and the worse bit..." his face now puce, "it takes me five times as long to leave work and drive away from the fucking thing."
"So you'll be at the opening on Friday?" asked Sleuth.
"Will I fucking fuck," said Gordo, slamming his office door.
Biggest and best means massive guest
The markets will be officially opened on St Ann's Square at 11am, with bosses declaring them 'world famous' and 'the original, biggest, and best Christmas Market in the UK'. Sleuth thinks 'original' might be pushing it, but hey ho... ho ho. So which huge A-list star have they brought in to open the most momentous Christmas extravaganza in the whole country?
Golden helmet shines in the square
Sleuth was walking through Albert Square on Monday. Builders were erecting the Christmas market chalet stalls. “Look, one of them is wearing a golden helmet,” said Sleuth’s friend pointing through the mesh fence. Sleuth and his friend mused as to why this might be. These were their ideas:
1. He's a prince. 2. He won a gold medal at the Olympics. 3. His colleagues spray painted it for his birthday. 4. He's a buffoon. 5. His name is Gold. 6. He likes Spandau Ballet. 7. He's sensitive and appreciates the aesthetics. 8. He was 'Camp Builder of the Year', three years running. 9. He doesn't understand dress-up Mondays.
Sleuth's worst food freebie
FREE burritos. FREE tacos. FREE burger. It's the same every week. Some restaurant after a bit of cheap publicity offers up a 100 or so free lunches and gets a story in the paper. People turn up, queue a little, get their freebie and off they go. Easy. Too easy, it seems, for one Manchester restaurant. Spinningfields' Thai restaurant, Thaikhun, want you to work a little harder. To celebrate the Lopburi Monkey Festival (25-26 November), Thaikhun are planning to give away free banana fritters... but only if you turn up at the restaurant dressed as a monkey.
"I wouldn't even get out of bed for a banana fritter," said Confidential food writer Deanna Thomas, reading the email, "let alone pay £20 for a costume and look a twat all day for one fried banana."
"So you don't find this a-peeling?" said Sleuth, winner of 'Food-Based Wit of the Year' for the fourth year running.
Sleuth's other sparkling food-based wit of the week
Sleuth was at the filming of the Million Pound Menu in Spinningfields' Leftbank this week. This is a new BBC show fronted by First Dates' maître d‘ Fred Siriex, offering a dozen new food 'concepts' a chance to secure business investment (read about it here). Sleuth and his partner chose to dine at Epoch, a new modern-British restaurant by two young women who'd met whilst working at The Ritz. The camera crew had moved over to Sleuth's table whilst the Front of House manager explained the thinking behind the dehydrated horseradish. "We're also thinking of trying one with dehydrated watercress," said the lady. "Dehydrated watercress... so cress?" said Sleuth, thinking he'd definitely secured some airtime with this dazzling bit of wit. "Sorry," said the lady, "what do you mean?" "Well, if you dehydrate watercress, surely you just end up with cress... because you've removed the water?" said Sleuth, now increasingly looking like a smug tosspot, on camera. "Ah, I see, good one" said the lady, sidling away, followed by the cameras. Sleuth's partner threw him a look: "Luckily for you, I don't think that'll make the cut."
Sign of the times
Sleuth is getting annoyed at the ridiculous signs theatres have to put on their doors for sensitive souls. This is the sign on the door of a theatre at HOME which warns of gunshots being fired during a performance of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. There should be another one on the door saying ‘Spoiler Alert’.
The best bus driver in Manchester
Sleuth’s son was going to an eighteenth birthday party at Deansgate Locks with a gang of mates. They got off the bus close to the Palace Theatre and walked down Whitworth Street West, but just as they got opposite the venue, the birthday boy suddenly halted. He’d left his wallet on the bus. It contained the booking reference, his ID and all his money. The evening had crashed, they wouldn’t be able to get in, the party was off. Suddenly there was the toot of a horn and careening round the corner was the bus driver in his double-decker waving the lad’s wallet through the open window. Cheers, whoops of joy, hugs through the cab window. Apparently the wallet had been handed in and the bus had continued to Piccadilly Gardens as scheduled. But having overheard the boys chatting about their destination as they alighted, the driver had flipped on the Out of Service sign and scooted down to the Locks, saving the night. Bloody heartwarming that. What a guy.
Things not where they should be
Sleuth is looking forward to the opening of the D&D restaurant on top of No.1 Spinningfields. Apparently it’s going to be called 20 Stories. Shame it’s on the nineteenth floor. A bit like the King Street Townhouse Hotel which is on Booth Street and two streets away from King Street.
Minister survives Ordsall Chord opening
Sleuth was at the opening of the stately Ordsall Chord link and bridge this week. Martin Frobisher, Route Managing Director of Network Rail, had a droll way of drawing attention to the fact the project has been completed accident-free by its 2,000 strong workforce. The Chord works have included the restoration of the original Liverpool and Manchester Railway bridge over the River Irwell. On 25 September 1830, the day this, the first passenger railway system opened, there was bloodshed when a former government minister, William Huskisson MP, was run over and killed. In 2017, rail minister, Paul Maynard was in attendance to place the final ceremonial bolt on the new bridge which adjoins the older bridge. "Unlike William Huskisson," Frobisher declared, "I can reassure you that we will return you safely today."
Food and drink symbiosis
Sleuth wants to say thank you to Cask bar on Liverpool Road for allowing drinkers to bring in food from The Fish Hut chippy next door. This is called symbiosis in biology: ‘an interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both’. “It’s great we can get chips and bring them in here to enjoy with a pint,” Sleuth said to the barman in Cask. Then he had a thought, “But wait a minute, does this mean I can take a pint into the chippy and sit in their café bit?” “No,” came the reply, “the pints have to stay here.”
Duck of the week
Sleuth was in the CityCo office on Blackfriars Street when he looked out of the window and saw a high duck. A duck 30 metres above the river where it should be. It will have to move soon though, otherwise it will be entombed in rubble. Fly away little duck, fly away.