Thursday, 2 February 2012

Manchester: In Residents ... #2: Oisín

‘I love the support that independent businesses get from the city’s residents, and just the general vigour in the streets at all times of the year…’

What’s your name?

My name is Oisín Share, or Oisín Francis Frederick Share, to share some lesser-known facts. Friends call me Ois, but it doesn’t sound quite the way it looks. If you know how the Irish language goes about itself, or the works of Róisín Murphy, you’ll probably know your way around my name.

What do you do?

Overall I’m a graphic designer but through college I became more interested in what it means to be a visual communicator. These days I’m working more with photography but I still get to illustrate and drag things around the screen a lot. I’m lucky to be quite freelance with this! You can also find me occasionally working at a very lovely cake shop in West Didsbury.

Where do you live?

I’ve lived in Withington since I first got off the airport bus (it drives right on through). It’s the craziest, most unpredictable place I’ve ever lived. Not as gross as Fallowfield and not as up itself as Didsbury.

Tell us the story of how you ended up in Manchester.

I fell in love with a boy who visited me whilst I was doing an internship in Paris in 2008. We irresponsibly decided to become a couple, despite living in separate countries. All throughout my final year at college in Limerick (in the south-west of Ireland) I would nip over to Manchester whenever I could, to visit Colin (the boy in question).

Interestingly, it was my first time visiting a city proper in the UK, so for many, many months it was my only real impression of England at all. Each time I came here it seemed so great and I built on memories from my previous visits. I really took to it. I liked that there was still so much I hadn’t explored by the time I moved here in the summer of 2009. I planned to stay for a year and save up for some ‘further education’ while Colin was finishing his last year at university, but that never happened. So much more did though. It’s not at all a dashed dream – every month just gets more and more interesting.

What’s great about this city?

There’s so much! It’s small enough to walk across in a short space of time but it’s still known worldwide. Every band and musician I’ve ever loved seems to not be able to stay away from the place, which is the complete opposite of my experience of gigs in Ireland (four hour train journeys to Dublin…) The food is amazingly global, not overpriced, and fantastic quality. There are great vegetarian options everywhere and you don’t feel as if you’re getting ripped off at every opportunity. I love beer, wine, coffee and beards; this city has great places to find all of them.

I love the support that independent businesses get from the city’s residents, and just the general vigour in the streets at all times of the year. It’s also great that even though it’s such a famous sporting city, it doesn’t really smack you in the face that often. There are also enough Irish people in the city for me to not feel homesick, at any moment, ever.

What’s not so great?

As a cyclist I wish the roads were a bit smoother and that it wasn’t such an extreme sport getting into the city centre from the suburbs. I’m also a big campaigner for late night takeaways that aren’t just fast food. It’d be great to be able to grab some noodles or couscous at 2 am (though maybe I just need to look harder…)

Do you have a favourite Manchester building?

I love the former HSBC at the top of King Street [100 King Street by Edwin Lutyens]. If you look up it feels as if you’re in Gotham City. It isn’t a very friendly building though. The worst structure in the city is probably the escalator going up to the Arndale Centre Food Hall. It dissects the street in a really bad way. We once saw Chloe Sevigny standing underneath it. I thought the world was going to end.

Do you have a favourite Mancunian?

As fellow adopted Mancunians, I love Wayne and Jane from North Tea Power. Every time I go in and they’re there, they fill my day with smiles and joy, and amazing coffee, and I doubt I’m the only one!

What’s your favourite pub/bar/club/restaurant/park/venue?

When people visit here they mostly spend their time following me from café to café or from pub to bar! I spend most pre-flight evenings in the Cornerhouse restaurant/bar; it really is one of the best places in the city, and with quite a fantastic view.

This is a great city for beer and ale, so Port Street Beer House, Marble, the Temple Of Convenience, The Molly House, the Vic in Withington and Sandbar are places I have difficulty leaving. The Spice Kitchens in Rusholme do the best spinach and paneer kebabs, and probably other stuff too, I just never try anything else. My favourite pizza is from The Art of Tea in Didsbury. Aladdin’s in Withington is like going on a very unexpected (but great) holiday. Frankie’s in West Didsbury does chips and will even serve them with deep fried halloumi and a bottle of beer if you think your body can take it. And finally, if I could spend a whole day in the Barbakan in Chorlton, I certainly would! There are lots of hidden gems, really this answer could go on for ever…

What do you think is missing from Manchester?

I wish the Arndale Market was more of a market, rather than a collection of nice places to eat in a shopping centre. Sometimes all I want is a thriving city centre market that isn’t behind glass and metal. There’s also nowhere to eat in the open air in the Northern Quarter, even though it’s full of so many nice places to eat that do takeaway food! A lot of large spaces seem to only be suited to car parks. So a regular, food-centred market in an area that’s a bit softer around the edges than Piccadilly Gardens would really complete the picture.

If I was Mayor for a day I would …

Rush the paperwork through to have the gardens built above Rice and Nero in Piccadilly Gardens! I read that was the initial plan and it’s sad it didn’t go through. I’d also start an initiative to get more contemporary art galleries opening in the city centre and give the Manchester School of Art more of a presence amongst those who aren’t directly connected to it. And, of course, more bike lanes!

Who else would you like to nominate to answer this questionnaire?

I would love to hear responses from musician Jesca Hoop, who I believe has made the city her stomping ground. I’d also love to know what Chloe Sevigny thought of the time she spent here, though I might be afraid to know the answers…

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