Playwright Martin Lynch on muesli, shadow-boxing and winging it on life's airplane

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: playwright Martin Lynch

Martin Lynch – "a classy left back" – loved sport at Bearnagheea with the great Harry Enright

1. Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

I don’t have a fixed routine. If I’m writing, I’ll tend to write late and get up late. If I’m in a rehearsal and production period, I get up earlier. Generally, I get up somewhere between 8.30 and 10.30am. I haven’t done prayers since I reached the age of reason and rationality – for me around the age of 15. Everybody to their own, but I’m a confirmed atheist. I also like to fill the bird feeders regularly – one day this summer I counted 22 birds and eight species all at once. Fantastic to watch.

2. What might you eat in a typical working day for…

Breakfast? I'll just have coffee for breakfast and, if I'm writing, I'll then listen to the news and have a wee wander in the garden before opening my laptop.

Lunch? Due to being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about five years ago, I have transformed my eating habits (mostly). I make my own concoction of museli, assorted nuts, mixed fruit and coconut milk. Never thought I’d see the day I’d be eating stuff like that, but I now love it. Every second day I have porridge and fruit. Again, I hadn’t eaten porridge since I was about 10, but with loads of chopped up fruit and coconut milk, I love it. Mad, I know.

Evening meal? Fish, fish and more fish – luckily I love every kind of fish under the sun, even willeeks (whelks).

3. Is nutrition important to you?

I do my best to eat healthily. I have cut out the majority of processed foods which are the root of all evil when it comes to health. However, I break out every now and again and get a fish and pastie out of The Captain’s Table in Glengormley.

4. Are you a calorie counter? No.

5. Best meal ever?

Prior to the new regime, I was a proper hungry bas***d. I got to my worst at over 16 stone four years ago by having the best meals ever all over the place. There was my first Mexican right under the shadow of the Berlin Wall, the huge plate of red and black caviar on buttered rolls in Moscow, not to mention a residency in Long’s Chippie, and, of course, my Ma’s vegetable soup.

6. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Chocolate and fish from the chippie.

7. Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

Not a diet as such, just a changed regime.

8. Do you take health supplements?


9. Teetotal or tipple?

I didn’t drink till I was 30, then I became a Friday night man, then I became what I am now – an occasional drinker. I’ve had about two hangovers in the last eight years which is fantastic.

10. Fruit or fry-up?

I’ve gone from the fry-up champion to the fruit-and-nuts supremo.

11. Stairs or lift?

Give me a chance – I’m in my 60’s for f*** sake.

12. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I tend to do it phases. Currently, I’m in a phase where I do a wee 20-minute routine in my bedroom about three times a week, which includes stretches, sit-ups and shadow-boxing. Then I might do FA for three months.

13. On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are; how fit would you like to be?

I'd say a four. I’m not fit at all. I have one or two other physical problems which have made life very difficult for me in recent years. For instance, I can’t really run any more. I know you’ll be saying 'Then how does he shadow-box?' By sheer willpower, that’s how.

14. Best tip for everyday fitness?

I try and walk as often as I can.

15. Do you have a memory from school sport / PE days you would rather forget?

No, I loved every minute of school sport (a classy left back) and PE. It was a pleasure to do PE in Bearnagheea [St Patrick's College, Belfast] under the great Harry Enright. Wish I could say the same about my other school subjects.

16. Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

Yes, being diagnosed with diabetes. When I read about what it can do to your body it frightened the bejaysus out of me.

17. Best health advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

Processed foods are the scourge of the developed world. Over 80 per cent of what’s on supermarket shelves have chemicals and other crap to preserve their shelf life. It’s one of the most disastrous developments in the western world over the last 40 years.

18. Who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?

Anybody who can run faster than me, so that’s them all. No, maybe not the darts players.

19. What time do you get to bed normally and do you think you get enough sleep?

I’ll go to bed anywhere between midnight and 3am. I seldom think I’ve had enough sleep.

20. Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

I would say I have the only attitude any rational person can take – when it happens, it happens. It’s like getting on an airplane. You have to sit back and let the world take its course.


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