Marie Jones: I can think of more imaginative ways to bore myself than go to the gym

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: award-winning Belfast playwright Marie Jones

Marie Jones, whose play Stones In His Pockets is on at the Grand Opera House this week, finds inspiration in people who only care about having a good time
Gail Bell

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

I don’t have a routine at all and, at present in our house, there is me, my husband and son and we are all in the 'non-routine' world of the arts. I suppose the only routine is a cup of tea and, whoever is first up, letting the dog out.

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

Breakfast? Breakfast will just be whatever is the handiest, if I am in a rush. If I'm not rushing out, it’s still whatever is handiest... Streaky bacon and toast is quick and tasty.

Lunch? I don't have much for lunch, really, as it's not a very important meal for me. I might skip it and have two McVitie's digestive biscuits instead.

Evening meal? Anything at all, I'm not fussy. It might be something like fresh fish or meat – I don't do frozen and certainly not out of a can. The only thing I eat out of a can is baked beans.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

No, I never think about it, and I have no major illnesses and few colds, so I must be doing something right.

4 Best meal ever?

I've had many good meals all over the world, but I do remember the most amazing seafood platters in Seattle in America. Locally, Jordan’s Bakery on the Newtownards Road bake the best sausage rolls in the world.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Well, I have never felt guilty about any pleasure, food or otherwise. Sure that would spoil the pleasure in the first place.

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

I have had hundreds of diets in my lifetime and not a single one worked. They might have worked if I had stayed on them longer than about two days, though. I am not overweight, so perhaps I have discovered one. I think it's called grazing.

7 Do you take health supplements?

I take health supplements for about a week religiously, then I either forget or can't be bothered. I am constantly throwing out past-their-sell-by-date vitamins and supplements.

8 How do you relax?

Writing is my relaxation. It's my job too, but it is also a great way to wind down, shut out the world and live in a pretend one.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

I'll be teetotal for a few days and then I feel so good about it, I reward myself with a few vodkas. Then, I'll cure myself with two paracodal and a berocca – and then the whole process starts again. It's a vicious circle.

10 Stairs or lift?

Lift every time – why would you climb stairs when you can get where you want to go quicker on a lift? If I had one in my house, there would be no exercise at all.

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

To me, when someone mentions exercising or going to the gym, I say I can think of more imaginative ways of boring myself. I am continually exercising by going up and down my stairs, God knows how many times a day. I will remember that I left something upstairs and when I get up to get it, I forget and come back down again, at which point I remember and have to to up again, and so on and so on. Our whole family are the same – my stairs have got to be more travelled than the Spanish Steps.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Keep forgetting what you went upstairs for and only remember when you come down again – and keep on doing it a few times.

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

I am happy with a minus four.

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

I’d try anything if I needed to, although I think I’d feel safer surrounded by bleeping machines, drips, people in masks and all those other hospital accoutrements.

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

They were a nightmare – I was a plump kid and when the teacher chose the two sporty kids to pick teams, I was always last to get picked. It's child cruelty by another name.

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

I gave up ciggies for about six months but it had nothing to do with my health. My friend told me smoking was the reason my hair wouldn’t curl – it was the days of the big curly perms. She lied or was misinformed.

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

Water, water, water – I am never without it and have bottles in my bag, in the car, wherever I go. My mother was the same and always had a glass of water in her hand. She lived until she was 93. Mind you, she always had a glass of wine in the other.

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

I am not inspired by super-fit people – the people who inspire me are those who don’t care about being fit. They live on the edge and only care about having a good time. Like me, they believe there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Oddly enough, most of them are artists, musicians, actors and writers.

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

I have no set time – it could be nine o'clock in the evening, 11pm or four in the morning, or just whenever I doze off watching the telly. I don’t feel the need to go to bed to sleep, but I definitely get enough.

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

I don’t think about it, which, is to me, a very healthy attitude indeed.

:: Marie Jones's hit play Stone In His Pockets is running at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, this week, finishing on Saturday.

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