Week 11: in which Sleuth invents a new paint range
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
ST MICHAEL'S, CHARACTER & THE COUNCIL PURSE
Sleuth sees Gary Neville has backtracked this week over designs for St Michael’s, admitting the development consortium had ‘failed miserably’ on aspects of the scheme, in particular the way the 31 and 21 storey towers interact at street level on Bootle Street. The current state of the underutilised thoroughfare, running parallel to Peter Street, has been repeatedly voiced by all involved in the plans, yet, bemusingly, the architect’s solution was to erect bland, brutal, high-sided walls promising no street interaction or improvement whatsoever.
Weirder still, comments last week from Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese seeking to champion the scheme suggested the street currently lacked ‘character’ and was ‘in reality a pretty grotty back entry to Peter Street’. Fair enough. But does he seriously believe this (see below) adds any character? Give over.
So why would Mr Leese give such public approval to a scheme which nearly everybody else thinks is crap? Perhaps because the council – which owns much of the land the scheme sits on – stands to make millions from the Far East-funded development. Funny eh?
A SISTER FOR BEETHAM
Sleuth does actually love tall buildings (no, good ones, Mr Neville), so is pleased to see plans for a new 40-storey tower and 14-storey office block right next to Manchester’s tallest building, Beetham Tower, on the old Bauer Millet site. The scheme has been put forward by Ask Real Estate and designed by architect Ian Simpson, who also designed Beetham. Though Sleuth does wonder how much the architect commands for his designs, because he’s sure he’s seen that building somewhere else…
MANCHESTER ANGLE TO NEW CROWN PAINT RANGE
Sleuth hears that the new Crown paint range will feature an exciting new shade known as 'Pomona Cardboard'. This is inspired by the new development from Rowlinson Construction alongside the Manchester Ship Canal in Trafford close to Castlefield. The paint will be a sort of got-the-runs brown, beige-ish without the courage to be beige. “We believe,” says a spokesperson, “the shade will exactly match the aspirations of home-makers who...er...like a beige-ish life and living in tiny cardboard boxes. The sort of people who rarely go out and if they do go to La Tasca.” Meanwhile Rowlinson Construction commented, “We like the colour and we’re especially proud to be building the slums of the future.”
NORTHERN QUARTER HIPSTER RE-BRAND OF THE WEEK
Spotted in the window of new Northern Quarter diner, West Corner: 'multi-seed brownies'... otherwise known as flapjack. They also serve 0% fat cloud milk (water).
SLEUTH AND THE DELIGHTED TOURIST
“When my son and his father propose coming to watch football games in Manchester I will now join them. I think the city is delightful, really interesting. I’ve been so surprised,” said the forty-something Norwegian woman in a visiting study group. “Why, what did you think of Manchester before?” asked Sleuth. Our Norwegian guest, paused, and then said, “I thought, how do you say...I thought it was shit.”
SLEUTH’S CUTE A-BOARD OF THE WEEK WINNER
This is to be found on Whitworth Street and the award goes to the charming coffee shop Chez. Gym below, caff above.
SUNDAY TIMES SHOCKER
In a shock announcement this week, a judging panel from The Sunday Times named leafy, affluent Cheshire town Knutsford as the best place to live in the North West, due to its wide range of attractive property, local pubs and garden centres. Judging panel member and former Tory MP for The Cotswolds, Jeffrey Rees-Bumblington, said: “Is old Georgy boy still the MP up there? And Cheshire voted Leave on Brexit too? Yah? Bully! That’ll do nicely.”
SLEUTH AND THE MOST FOOLISH SECURITY OF THE WEEK
Sleuth’s friend has a camera. A good one. She was at First Street, the home of HOME, and the Gasworks, Liquor Store, Innside Hotel, the Indian Tiffin Rooms and a totally pointless Pizza Express. She took a photograph and suddenly it got all Soviet Union around her. The security guards came swooping, heavy handed, telling her this was a private estate and she couldn’t take photographs of the buildings because, obviously, of all the state secrets kept in those Pizza Express recipes and the dangers of industrial espionage through learning all that classified brewing info from the Gasworks. Sleuth is angry. The owners of the First Street estate should be ashamed of themselves. Desperate to encourage people down to an area incorporating an arts centre known for individual expression, HOME, they then enforce utterly ridiculous rules. Idiotic. Anyway here’s a picture of the area Sleuth took on his camera. The LIFE illumination on the car park refers to the prison sentence you may get for photographing.
Here’s more photos Sleuth has taken of First Street, because Sleuth is childish and likes sticking it to The Man.
GAZPROM AND ENGELS
Last week we revealed how a life-sized statue of the co-author of the Communist Manifesto, Friedrich Engels, is to be erected in Tony Wilson Square at First Street. Engels, who lived almost 22 years in Manchester, wrote the Manifesto with Karl Marx. Sleuth is amused that Freddie will be looking at a building currently under-construction which has been pre-let to Gazprom. Gazprom is the Russian gas energy giant with a dodgy past. Russia, of course, was the centre of the Soviet Union which was inspired by Engels and the Communist Manifesto. Sleuth thinks some old timers at Gazprom are going to feel right at home at HOME. And the way the First Street security guards round-up photographers might feel familiar too.
SLEUTH’S STRANGE THING OF THE WEEK
Here are a group of sixth formers from Switzerland attempting a Manchester accent last Sunday outside Castlefield Youth Hostel. One of them is wearing a pig’s head mask. Of course she is.
GORDO BUYS SMELLIES
Finally, here’s Confidential’s fearsome publisher and restaurant critic, Mark ‘Gordo’ Garner, digging in his handbag for pennies to buy lavender-scented hand lotion in L’Occitane on King Street. "And you can f**k off," said Gordo, before Sleuth could say a word.