Week 16: in which Sleuth tells some Chinese journalists how it is
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
The Chinatown Pavilion scandal
Several weeks ago the pavilion in Chinatown was fenced off ostensibly because it was a health and safety threat. There is no date for it to be repaired. The real reason many suspect is that it had become a home from home for aggressive, drug-dealing beggars and simply closing it off is easier for police.
Either way it strikes Sleuth that this is a shocking dereliction of duty by the local authority. A) it’s an admission that the problem of aggressive begging and homelessness is seemingly intractable, B) in terms of building tourist profile, becoming a great visitor destination, improving the economy and helping Chinatown out, it’s admitting defeat.
Bigger article next week on this but for the record, the pavilion re-opened for Chinese New Year. Odd that isn’t it, given the health and safety implications.
Sleuth and the official Chinese News Agency
Sleuth was interviewed this week by Xinhua, the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China. They were looking at how Manchester influenced Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ theories of Communism. The interviewers were absolutely graceful and charming people but maybe wished they hadn’t asked on camera whether Sleuth thought Marx would have approved of China’s version of Communism?
“No,” said Sleuth, who has been East, “they’d find it too neony. Speaking freely, they’d probably find it more capitalist than the West with a greater gap between rich and poor than at any time in Chinese history. When I was there it was the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and there was media silence and all the satellite TV channels such as BBC 24 were blocked. No, I don’t think Marx and Engels would…er…you’re not going to be able to use any of this are you?” Head shakes all round.
Still, speaking of a growing gap between rich and poor, it’s happening over here too as the homelessness problem spectacularly reveals on our walk around the city centre.
Knowing your audience
Sleuth received an email this week inviting him to Aatma in Northern Quarter to take part in a 'body positive practice' which will help him 'fall in love with the human body temples our souls reside in'.
After a couple of afternoons in the sun, reacquainting himself with the many beer gardens of Manchester, Sleuth felt his human body could use a retempling. And apparently this practice would 'allow space to cultivate inner freedom, discovery, release, disinhibition, flow and fun.'
Oh yeah, sounds like Sleuth could use a bit of this.
'Attendees will work with their physical bodies to paint, but will also discover to tune in with our heart chakra, an energetic centre, that is located on the breast area.'
'Before the breast painting...'
Nope, Sleuth's out.
All bets are off
Sleuth was watching United’s dismal display against West Bromwich Albion in the pub recently. A few lads nearby were having fun in-game betting on their phone apps. Sleuth had just been reading about some traditional gambling habits in Manchester and wondered if there was an app for it. Or maybe even a VR experience.
Back in the late nineteenth century a man, north of the city, for a bet, ate in the pub: ‘8 pounds of porridge, a quart of water, a quart of milk, one pint of milk, one quart of small drink, two oatcakes, nine pounds of cow head without the bone, four quarts of water, one quart of ale, a further three oatcakes. After this he said he would like a dozen penny pies of which he ate seven.’ He won the bet. And then probably exploded.
Sleuth, Wigan and the bucket of cold water
Sleuth was in the Lowry Hotel when the United team arrived. They normally stay over there the day before a match, even though Old Trafford is twenty minutes away. It’s a group-hug with tactics thing. There was a young couple, mid-twenties maximum, in reception. The boy was getting excited, “This is a bonus, never thought we’d get to see the United players while we were staying here.” His girlfriend, stared at the famed millionaires, then examined her nails, before looking up again, “Don’t recognise any of them. If this were Wigan rugby team now that would be really exciting.”
Sleuth’s sign of the week
We love the incidental signs we find as Confidential strolls the streets. This is from Lloyd Street chippy and is a triumph of graphic design. Maybe, this being a chippy, meat pies, battered fish and the like, their heart simply isn’t in salad.
Sleuth smelling of roses
Marcus Chilton-Jones is the curator of RHS Bridgewater at Worsley. This is the exciting new 150-acre garden planned to open in 2020 with extensive walled gardens. The whole site will take many years to develop and might include the odd surprise. “Apparently when the estate was given to the military during WWII someone crashed a jeep into the lake and it sank into the silt,” said Chilton-Jones to Sleuth. “We’re clearing the lake out so we’re hoping to discover an usual feature to stick some flowers in.” From army hardware to a blossoming bouquet. 'Nice', thought Sleuth.
Question of the week...
Sleuth took a call this week from somebody promoting World Book Night on Monday 23 April. They wanted to ask Sleuth what he thought would be the best way to celebrate the occasion. "By reading," said Sleuth, before throwing the phone out of the window. (For a more grown-up answer, see here.)
A warm welcome
Sleuth was lucky enough to be invited on a two day trip to Naples this week, in order to see the inspiration behind the upcoming Festa Italiana in Cathedral Gardens (13-15 July), organised by Maurizio Cecco, owner of Salvi's restaurant. Sleuth's not sure what Maurizio had told airport security ahead of their arrival, but the special bus probably wasn't necessary...
Sleuth's trousers of the week
Naples airport worker gives new meaning to utility trousers boarding the flight to Manchester.
Sleuth's longest meat of the week
Well done to chef Andrew Nutter, who helped raise £3k for an Action Against Hunger trek to Nepal this week. Here is Nutter showing off his three foot meat and giving it some (beef) welly.
Sleuth's very Chorlton toilet sticker of the week
"I think you'll find it's pronounced 'keeeeen-wa'"