Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Manchester: In Residents … #14: Emma

‘It’s almost impossible to hide away without seeing someone that you know, which is proper shit when you haven’t put any make-up on…’

What’s your name?

Emma Jay

What do you do?

I’m a freelance photographer. I’m also about to launch a new accessories label with my business partner so I work part-time in a bar too so that we don’t have to borrow any money from the yucky banks. I’m absolutely knackered.

Where do you live?

I live in ‘leafy West Didsbury’. It’s a small flat in a big house. The guy who lives in the building next door likes to play trance remixes of Jessie J, but apart from that it’s jolly nice. The other people who live in my building are all incredibly attractive and young and cool, so obviously I feel right at home.

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

I grew up just outside London in the classy environs of Essex (you may have seen it on the BAFTA-winning TV show, The Only Way Is Essex…?)

When I was at university in Kent, my mum got married to my step-dad and she and my sister moved up to Manchester to live with him (he’s a Stafford boy originally). After graduation, I applied for jobs all over the country (I was aiming to be a gallery curator at the time) and I happened to get a job in the gallery at The Lowry. I thought I’d give Manchester a go as I’d never lived here before and I am so maverick.

I have to say I hated it at first. The weather was soul-crushingly dire (no-one believed me that it was warmer down South) and I planned to move on quite quickly. Then I bought a house, made lots of friends, and stayed for six or seven years. After that I moved back to London for a number of years and started up the accessories business. My partner lived in Manchester, I moved back up, and here I am! I’ve been back for just under a year. I’m not a born and bred Mancunian, plus I’m a bit of a nomad at heart, so I don’t think I’ll stay here forever, but for now, it’s brilliant. We are close to many of the factories that we use and I also like being near to my darling sister.

Eventually, I’d like to live in Scandinavia. Or maybe California. Anywhere I can have a house near to water and trees, with a massive porch.

What’s great about this city?

I love the Mancunian sense of humour; the Mancs are very droll. I also love the way it’s quite easy to start a new club night, or open a new store, or make a little niche for yourself up here. Obviously, it’s so much cheaper than London, which really makes it a little easier for new entrepreneurs to create something wonderful. It’s a friendly city too – people like to chat. The cosiness of the city is ace.

What’s not so great?

The cosiness of the city: it’s almost impossible to hide away without seeing someone you know, which is proper shit when you haven’t put any make-up on, and I do like a little Touche Eclat of a morning. Sometimes Mancs can be very negative too, very ‘down’ on something new. For instance, they’ll all go to a new club and be excited beforehand, but afterwards they’ll moan that the sound wasn’t quite right, or there were too many students, or there weren’t enough Barbour jackets or something. That irritates the heck out of me.

Do you have a favourite Manchester building?

I have always loved the building that The Footage & Firkin pub occupies on Oxford Road. It’s clad in these outrageously perfect sea-green tiles and is so beautiful. Ditto the Peveril of the Peak which is covered in fabulous chartreuse tiles and is positioned in a peculiar place, right near to the clean, iceberg-esque lines of the Bridgewater Hall. I like all the old shizzle, too. The Central Reference Library is splendid in its circular dominance of St Peter’s Square, and obviously the John Ryland’s Library too, spectacularly flaunting its creepy style of Gothic beauty next to that hideous new glass thingy.

Do you have a favourite Mancunian?

Well, I love all my friends of course, but I’ll choose a fellow adopted Mancunian, Alan Turing – for all the obvious reasons.

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

There are some great places in the Northern Quarter for lunch or coffee: North Tea Power, Home Sweet Home and Teacup are my current favourites. They all do SUPERTRON cakes. The milkshakes in Home Sweet Home are cardiac arrest inducing, but they sure taste good. (Go for the peanut butter one!) Common and Port St Beer House are great for booze (in Port St, try the Bourbon Barrel Stout by the Odell brewing company – it costs the same as a new car but it’s absolutely delicious).

2022NQ is the best new event space for clubs. It’s also a gallery and studio. I love Electrik (the bar staff are WELL fit, and they have the best juke box), plus North Star Deli and Dulcimer in Chorlton, and Folk and The Drawing Room on Burton Road in my neighbourhood, West Didsbury (the latter does really cheap cocktails before 9pm and the owner is an absolute doll).

The rock garden in Fletcher Moss Park is beautiful, and I love walking along the canal at Chorlton Water Park as well. The Briton’s Protection and Cornerhouse are great for evening drinks. I like catching a film and eating that mega fennel pizza at the Cornerhouse too. Eighth Day Café and the Buddhist Centre Earth Café do great vegetarian grub that sometimes looks like baby sick but tastes fabulous. I don’t get much time to go out at the moment, so there are lots of new restaurants that I still really want to try.

What do you think is missing from Manchester?

The sun.

If I was Mayor for a day I would …

Sort out the litter situation. Manchester is f**king filthy in places and it really angers me. How hard is it to put litter in a bin, y’all? Even in the scuzziest placesthat  I lived in London, there was barely any litter compared to here. Embarrasing…

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

I’d like to nominate Sam Breen. He is a wonderful writer, publisher and music-lover who appreciates a turbo Kir Royale as much as I do.

Emma is author of the blog, Totally Would, for all things swoonsome in the world of the celebrity male.

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