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Weekend Q&A: Martin Lynch on the Premier League, panto and the Boom Boom Rooms

Martin Lynch (71) is one of our foremost playwrights whose CV spans Dockers to In the Name of the Son, co-written with Richard O'Rawe. He is bringing two pantomimes to the Waterfront Hall this Christmas - the family-friendly Cinderella and the adult humour of Cinder on Tinder

Belfast playwright Martin Lynch. Picture by Mal McCann
Jane Hardy

How do you unwind at the weekend?

For almost two years, every day has been like Sunday. Now I'm back working at the office and what I do at the weekend is football, football, football. I'd watch all the Premier League games and support Arsenal. I can't sit for two hours but get up at half time to go for a 15 minute walk, marching round the garden which is good for my sore leg. Something I brag about is the new front garden I have built with a lawn and dry stone wall. We need to get out to the theatre too. Pantomime relaxes you and my shy grandson Tiernan (5) dances at the end of the row. Pantos got a bad reputation with Jim Davidson and the sexism - Cinder on Tinder isn't like that.

What do you recall most about weekends growing up?

At 10 or 11, the fellows I'd grown up with would say, 'Will we go to Edenderry or up Cave Hill or to Alexandra Park?' Or we would get half a crown and buy a football at Charlie Loughran's shop. In our teens, we might go to the Orpheus dance floor or Boom Boom Rooms in Cornmarket. We were all sober, something young people can't understand now. The news boys' club, founded by Presbyterians in the '20s to help paper boys, where my father, Jimmy, went was a life saver. My next play is about him and he's the reason I'm a writer. My ma, who fed all 12 of us, is the reason I'm here.

Friday night or Saturday night?

For 30 years, I was a Friday night person and would go to the John Hewitt. I loved its widespread Belfast community, no Catholics or Protestants. Saturday night was Match of the Day. Nowadays, I don't go out and my grandson arrives at six o'clock on Friday and takes over until Sunday night.

Have you a must-listen radio show or podcast?

I tend to put on BBC Radio Ulster but switch to Radio 4 if a Country and Western programme is on.

Is there a must-see TV programme/box set?

I'm a big news person and flick between BBC News to CNN to Euro News to the Russian news and French news, which I particularly like. I've tried to watch GB News but it's so right wing with people like Nigel Farage.

Is Sunday still special?

Certainly not in terms of spirituality; I'm 100 per cent atheist and stopped going to Mass at 14. But Sunday still holds something and is a time for walks.

Have you a favourite eatery or is it a takeaway?

We don't do takeaways. I would have gone to Nick's Warehouse and Hadskis in the Cathedral Quarter.

How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning?

I love what I do and have no problem. But when I worked at the dock and years after I worked at the cloth cutting trade, I had the odd nightmare.

:: Cinderella (December 3 - January 2) and Cinder on Tinder (December 2-30) are both at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast (waterfront.co.uk).

Jane Hardy

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