Life

My Left Nut's Michael Patrick: My top beer kind of tastes like feet, but in a good way

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Belfast actor and writer Michael Patrick, who penned BBC Three series My Left Nut with writing partner Oisin Kearney

Belfast actor and writer Michael Patrick in the stage version of My Left Nut
Gail Bell

1 Up and at it – what is your new morning routine? How has it changed?

It hasn't really changed at all, to be honest: lie in as late as possible and rush around to get ready for work at the last minute. I suppose the only thing that's changed is I haven't been able to get take-away coffee, so I've invested in a good coffee grinder and I've been ordering beans from Root & Branch. They roast their own beans here in Belfast and they make amazing coffee.

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

Breakfast? Peanut butter and banana on toast. I really love peanut butter and buy the big kilogram tubs. The only issue is, it's so calorie-dense and I can find myself eating spoonfuls all day. I need to watch that.

Lunch? I'm a big fan of sandwiches. I'd eat sandwiches for every meal if I could; I just think they're the perfect food. I am trying to eat fewer, though, so sometimes I'd just have a salad or a smoothie or some eggs or something.

Evening meal? I roast a lot of chickens – not all at once, just over the course of the week.

3 Have you been able to work from home – if so, how have you found it?

Well, I've not been able to do any acting, obviously, although I've done a bit of educational work with The Royal Shakespeare Company. I was working with them when lockdown started – we were supposed to be taking our plays to America and Japan. It was a real shame that that was all cancelled, so it was nice to be able to record some bits and bobs for them. I have also been working away on a few projects with Oisin Kearney, my writing partner. We are the commissioned playwrights on Prime Cut Productions' REVEAL programme, so we've been working on our piece for that, as well as a few other things which are still in the early stages.

4 Best/easiest lockdown meal?

I don't think I have an easy lockdown meal. I've actually been making more and more elaborate meals, just to have something to do. I've been getting into making my own sauces and ketchups recently, which is pretty rock n' roll. It basically results in me standing next to the cooker all day watching pots of stock reduce.

5 Weekend treat?

I've been treating myself to getting ice cream delivered from Al Gelato. Best ice cream in Belfast.

6 How do you keep physically and mentally fit during lockdown?

Brave of you to assume I'm keeping fit. My waistline would suggest I'm getting less fit by the day.

7 What is your daily outdoor exercise?

I live near the Lagan meadows, so I'd go running there three or four times a week. The rest of the time, it's just a walk.

8 How do you relax?

I enjoy video games and I've been playing a lot of Nintendo Switch during lockdown – Zelda: Breath of the Wild has to be one of the greatest games ever. I've also been playing Dungeons and Dragons over zoom with a couple of groups – it's a great way to keep in contact with mates, have the craic and tell some stories.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple. I really love sour beer, especially Belgian Gueze. It's like the sourdough of beer – they don't add yeast, but allow natural yeast and bacteria to start the fermentation. It kind of tastes like feet, but in a good way.

10 What book are you currently reading?

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch. It looks at how the internet has opened up this massive space for people to write informally and discusses the linguistic trends and rules that have grown organically through online communities. It's a good read.

11 Best Netflix?

I've just finished The Last Dance – the documentary about Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls. Really worth a watch.

12 Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself?

I look terrible with long hair. I haven't been able to get it cut and I'm too scared to take the razor to it. Maybe it'll look better when it's really long? I live in hope.

13 On a scale of one to 10, where are you currently in relation to cabin fever and where do you think you will be in June?

Ach, it comes and goes. I'm lucky to have a garden and I'm right next to the Lagan meadows, so I haven't felt too cooped up, which is good. Hopefully it won't suddenly get worse.

14 What are the three things you miss most during lockdown?

The first pint of Guinness, the second pint of Guinness and then I'd probably have to say, the third pint of Guinness.

15 Where will you go and what will you do when restrictions are lifted?

I suppose it depends how slowly everything lifts, and in what order. I can't wait to get back to the Sunflower Bar, but I don't know how comfortable I'll feel going into an enclosed space. I'm also looking forward to heading up to Donegal.

16 Biggest gripe?

Having to make small talk with people about the lockdown all the time. I have zero new information when I speak to people; all I've been doing is sitting in the gaff making chicken stock.

17 Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Don't think so. Still trying to get through the day, eat nice food, enjoy my work, see my mates and my family when I can. That's still the same.

18 Any new skills or hobbies?

Apart from the aforementioned ketchup-making, nothing new really.

19 What would you like to see change for good when this is all over?

I think this has shown many people just how precarious their economic situation can be. There's what, 7.5 million people furloughed in the UK? It would be great if people's attitude to government assistance could change after this. Maybe the government can look into the feasibility of some form of universal basic income. At the very least, I'd like to think there won't be the same public snobbery towards people receiving benefits.

20 Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

Nah, sure I'm planning on living forever. It'll be grand.

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