David Meade: I relax by going to ukulele lessons with my eight-year-old daughter

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: mentalist David Meade

Mentalist David Meade switching, whose new Wizard of Odds tour kicks off in January
Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Gail Bell

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

I have to catch a plane about three or four days a week, so that means very early starts – I could be up as early as 3.30am for an early flight. If I'm not flying, my alarm will go off about 4.50am and I'll be in my office in Adelaide Street, Belfast, for 6am. I have to start my day early, even at home, as I need to get all the administrative stuff out of the way, so I'm not standing in a corner at an event somewhere trying to answer an email when I'm being paid to talk. No matter what time I'm up, I'll check Twitter and Linkedin and then head to the bathroom. I always tune into Fox News because I love listening to the complete nonsense they talk – it really is complete garbage, but that's why I love it; I love arguing with the presenters while I'm trying to shave. It's a great way to start the day.

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

Breakfast? Ordinarily, I'll have Fruit and Fibre cereal. Despite its image, I love it and it feels like a treat.

Lunch? Almost always a plain ham sandwich made with just with butter and white bread. If I'm at an event over lunch, I might have soup. I try to cut back at lunchtimes because if I'm going to a gala event or black tie ball to do with work, I know there will be a big steak waiting for me.

Evening meal? Whatever I'm given at an event dinner – I don't get to choose. If it's lukewarm chicken with gravy granules, I have to eat it. I always seem to be eating wedding-type meals for dinner.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

Yes it is important but I personally give it no importance. I think I'm generally quite bad about nutrition. I'll easily eat two sticky toffee puddings, one after the other, and not give it a second thought. I've never had heroin, but I imagine sticky toffee pudding must come close.

4. Best meal ever?

My best meal ever was actually a breakfast – several of them but on different days – while we were staying in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York in August. The views over Central Park are amazing and as good as the breakfasts which my wife and I devoured: a delicious mix of waffles with maple syrup and cream and various pancakes. The orange juice cost $17 a glass which is ridiculous, but we stayed there because we thought it was our 10th wedding anniversary – it was actually just our ninth.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Kinder Happy Hippo bars.

6. Have you ever been on a diet?

If so, how did it go? I am permanently on a diet and it tends to be because of my work. When I'm on tour, I can put on one-and-a-half to two stone, so then I have to spend the second half of the year on a virtual hunger strike. I will go on a VLPD (Very Low Calorie Diet) when I'll eat under 1,000 calories a day and lose the weight in about eight weeks if I'm really focused. I am the best in the world at counting calories and could tell you how many there are in paracetamol tablet.

7. Do you take health supplements?

I take iron supplements because I'm badly afflicted by mouth and throat ulcers and I've been put on a course of iron to see if that helps.

8. How do you relax?

I go to ukulele lessons with my eight-year-old daughter, Tilly, on Saturday mornings and I love it; it is total switch-off – I even go in my tracksuit bottoms. I am also a big fan of lying in my underpants watching Netflix for days on end if I get the chance.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

I don't drink when I'm working and I'm always working, so I would say I would just have two or three drinks over a fortnight. I'll have a beer here and a glass of wine then.

10. Stairs or lift?

The lift – every time, without exception.

11. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

During those periods when I'm on a VLCD diet, I'll work with a personal trainer but other than that, I don't have a regular schedule.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Don't snack. It's a big problem of mine, but my excuse is, I often feel in need of a sugary boost.

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

I think I am about a four but I would like to be around 6.5. I will take the notion sometimes to run in a new city, although after a 12-hour flight, you generally just want to get your head down. I don't want to run a marathon or anything, but I'm happy to sponsor those who do.

14. Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

No, much of it is hokum pokem and I especially have reservations about homeopathy. I'm not a fan of unproven medicine.

15. Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

I absolutely hated school sports but, luckily, I have a very supportive mum who arranged my absence notes in alphabetical order – an ankle injury one week, sore arm the next.

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

Not really but my mum would sit beside me smoking while I ate my Rice Krispies as a child and I have never smoked.

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

The Henry Ford quote: 'Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right'. I think that's true of so many things.

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

My brother-in-law, Chris, for his stickability. He is a fervent runner and, on a slow week, will run 40 or 50 miles.

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

It's pretty late during the week – midnight or 1am. I usually only have about three to five hours' sleep midweek. At weekends, though, I will 'veg out' and sleep from 10pm until about noon the next day.

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

Our youngest child, George, who's four, has severe special needs and needs round-the-clock care, so that changes the conversation when it comes to mortality. I do worry about it, about who will care for him when we are gone. That makes me work hard and plan ahead for when that day comes.

:: David’s new Wizard of Odds tour kicks off on Friday January 5 in the Old Courthouse, Antrim and runs until May 2018. Ticket information available from

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