BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET
BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET
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A Meal with… Shane Magnier and Gerry Mitchell

On the 1st of October 2021, I heard the sad news that my friend Shane Magnier had passed away in County Clare in southwest Ireland. It was a considerable shock, because we’d talked by phone a couple of years earlier and he was his usual hale and hearty self, and also because he was a relatively young man. Sadly, Shane developed an aggressive form of kidney cancer and died in a hospice near Limerick at the end of September.

Community
By Baz Daniel

Sunday 7 November 2021, 12:30PM


Shane Magnier, a true Phuket expat in spirit and in life, you will be missed. Rest in peace.

Shane Magnier, a true Phuket expat in spirit and in life, you will be missed. Rest in peace.

Shane was a friend for 14 years and we worked together on many creative projects from film, to radio, to newspaper, to online media. For me, Shane was an example of the sort of romantic, pioneering escapee from ‘normality’ who seemed drawn to life in Phuket for its serendipity, and often its sheer madness. Shane’s sad demise got me thinking about him as an exemplar of this type of character and whether Phuket will ever see a return to the sort of unpredictability and madness which drew both of us to the island.

My first meeting with Shane was as eccentric as the man himself. In late 2007, I’d just finished performing on stage in a musical and comedy review which I’d co-written in the Green Man pub in Chalong. I’d just cleaned off my stage make-up and ditched my rather looney costume, when Shane lumbered up to the bar and in an Irish brogue as rich as the pub’s dark stout itself and asked me if I’d like a drink. We bonded over Howard Digby-John’s fine Guinness and it transpired that Shane was an aspiring filmmaker and asked if I’d be interested in appearing as a David Attenborough-style on-camera presenter in a documentary he was planning for Thai television. It sounded like a merry jape, so I said I would, and thereby our friendship was launched.

A few days later, I found myself clumping through muddy buffalo droppings in a sweltering rice field in Phang Nga Province, while presenting to a film camera about ‘Khao Suay’… Thailand’s ‘Beautiful Rice’ in a pilot film about the country’s agricultural bounty. It was a tough gig and after we’d returned to Phuket and completed the voice-over work in Shane’s in-home recording studio in Rawai, we needed to drink several glasses of Ireland’s finest black liquid agricultural bounty in order to recover!

As I learned more about Shane, I discovered that he was a confusing combination of differing personality traits and characteristics and that he even had an alter-ego named Gerry Mitchell, his radio persona, or nom de mic! He’d served in the Irish police force and his hulking physique and no-nonsense presence had probably served him well in such a role. But there was also a creative and experimental side to Shane which had seen him working as a producer and presenter of music and talk shows in Ireland including Radio Kilkenny, Tipp FM and Clare FM. He’d done voice-over work for jingles and advertising and had a Diploma in Radio Production and Broadcasting.

Shane was something of a creative polymath and unsurprisingly he had the urge to travel and explore new horizons which saw him arriving in Phuket in 2003 and setting up his SGM video production company for which I’d found myself presenting in that muddy field!

Over the years our friendship and creative collaboration grew and we’d meet regularly in the ramshackle Chalong waterfront bars such as Jimmy’s Lighthouse and the Tamarind Bar, to eat supper and exchange jokes and creative ideas.

In 2009, Shane disappeared for a while when he went off to attend the International Academy of Film and Television, at Bigfoot Studios, in the Philippines to earn a Diploma in Film and Television Production. Upon returning to Phuket, he was full of expansive and enterprising ideas, and in 2011 he wrote a full-length, semi-autobiographical feature film titled ‘Perfect Day’, in which I was originally cast, but in fact had to miss because of family business back in the UK.

The film was set on a single day in the life of ‘Rick’, an Irish 40-something who lived in Phuket. He sets out to have what is for him the perfect day, a combination of hedonism and spirituality, travelling the island ‘Easy Rider’ style on a large chopper motorbike. However, all is not as it seems with Rick/Shane as he’s visited regularly by the ghost of his humorous dead father and haunted by memories of a girl called Clodagh.

‘Perfect Day’ is about priorities in life and how Rick/Shane copes with his fate and was beautifully shot on location in Thailand and Ireland, and went on to win the 2013 Grand Prize at the Amsterdam Film Festival.

This period was a highly creative and energetic time for Shane as he also launched the ‘Phuket Weekly’ online news and lifestyle website. On March 15, 2012, the Rainbow Bar in Rawai saw the riotous launch of the site with free-flowing drinks, food, live music, dancing girls and hundreds of local denizens having a whale of a time. It was a fitting birth for the site which captured the hedonistic spirit which was then very much a part of Phuket at that time, and I was fortunate enough to be creatively involved from the outset writing various columns, editing, taking photos and generally mucking in to help bring Shane’s enterprising new vision to life.

From 2013-2014 Shane worked as a radio presenter at Phuket Island Radio 91.5FM doing the afternoon show from each weekday as Gerry Mitchell.

He then moved to Spain in November 2014 where he presented afternoon radio on Coast FM Gold in Nerja, and then on City FM Malaga broadcasting in English across the Costa del Sol Spain.

I reconnected with Shane when he returned to Phuket in late 2016, as he went on to present the Afternoon Show on The Thaiger Radio and then to open McFly’s Bar on the Rawai waterfront. Shane went back to live in Ireland with his ailing mother in 2018, but McFly’s still serves cold ones to this very day.

In Shane’s biographical film ‘Perfect Day’ the boozy, cynical father tells Rick; “You always were a f*****g dreamer!”

Indeed, you were Shane. Rest in Peace my friend.

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