Brian Kennedy: I credit my mental robustness with growing up on the Falls Road

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Belfast singer-songwriter, Brian Kennedy

Ever optimistic Belfast singer Brian Kennedy is looking forward to his annual Christmas concert The Ballygally Castle Hotel in December
Gail Bell

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

My routine has always been that I’ve never really had one because of what I do. I travel and wake up in different hotels a lot when I’m singing, but because of lockdown, I’m now even more of a nightbird and am binge-watching Netflix far too late – into the wee small hours.

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

Breakfast? Always eggs and my current faves are poached, with beans sometimes, and hot buttery toast. I will have a strong black coffee afterwards.

Lunch? Lunch could be reheated leftovers from the previous night, or some type of salad and protein.

Evening meal? I’ve always loved to cook, so I’m being a wee bit more adventurous in what I making during lockdown. I made stuffed roasted peppers recently that were gorgeous and I always love a roast chicken with veg with good gravy. Wine is always an easy option.

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

I often work from home in terms of writing, but nothing replaces the visceral reaction you get with an audience. Having said that, I’ve really enjoyed some of the Facebook live events that I've done recently. I also made some great wee home videos like the one for the Nathan Carter fundraiser, The Adventures fundraiser, and my recent single with Boy George called Things Are Gonna Change.

4 Best/easiest lockdown meal?

Egg-fried Rice. Google Jamie Oliver for most things.

5 Weekend treat?

When I’m touring, my weekends are busiest with travelling and gigs, so I usually have no free time. I meet a mate or two who have similar schedules and we go out on a Monday night for dinner in town or a few delicious drinks somewhere new – that’s my version of a weekend.

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

I’m a realist. Having just survived a pretty harrowing few years with cancer and having lost far too many friends in the last few years, it's not lost on me how lucky I am to be alive. I usually train with my close friend, Paul Byrne, in his gym, or I walk and cycle. Last night, I took a public bike to my friend’s garden a few miles away for the first time in months and we sipped a cold glass of Champagne in the hot sun at the required distance apart. It was weird not hugging them during our ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes’. Generally with fitness, as long as I get a good sweat going, then I’m happy. Mentally, I seem always to have been robust and I credit that to my childhood on the Falls road. If I can survive that with a sense of humour, then I can survive a lockdown.

7 What is your daily outdoor exercise?

Currently, I’m walking a lot, but not always every day. The thing to do, is to be kind to yourself too. I know I’ve put some extra weight back on, but I'd lost almost four stone after my life-saving surgery almost two years ago now and I looked scary in photographs from that time. It’s nice to return to relatively normal worries about vanity. I haven’t worn regular clothes for months, so that should be interesting, but I don't really care. Resting is just as important as being active. Bring on the elasticated waist band!

8 How do you relax?

Binge watching Netflix, eating snacks and having something good to drink nearby.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

I associate drinking with being off work and not gigging, so I love a good margarita – with real limes, of course. I also like red wine or a G&T in the evening, if the weather is nice and we can sit in the garden counting our lucky stars.

10 What book are you currently reading?

Apeirogon by Colum McCann.

11 Best Netflix?

Oh… that’s a hard one, but I LOVED A Secret Love and After Life. I’m currently bingeing on American Horror Story. I never miss RuPaul's Drag Race but, frustratingly, it's only an episode a week.

12 Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself?

Nothing surprises me anymore.

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?

I don't have cabin fever at all because I’ve always been a bit of a loner, in many ways. I grew up in a small house with seven other people and it was often too dangerous to leave the house, so I adapted. If I was a bird, I’d probably be a heron. I’m lucky to live near parks and canals and so I can get out to walk if I need to. The weather has been glorious of late and I’m fortunate to have a lovely back garden to sit in and reflect.

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

Gigs, my close friends and the gym.

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

I will head north to officially meet my first ever great nephew. I’m now a great uncle to wee Daniel who is about three months old and I haven’t held him yet, so I’m looking forward to that moment when I can look into his wee eyes and sing to him

16 Biggest gripe?

Lockdown and the things I miss – see previous answer.

17 Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Not really. If anything, my priorities and perspectives have been even more deeply authenticated by this lockdown. You certainly know who your friends are in a crisis and my strengths and weaknesses are what they are.

18 Any new skills or hobbies?

I can now bake sourdough bread from scratch. However, I will be buying it locally to keep those shops in business. Baking is hard work as well as fun, but I’ll leave it to the professionals.

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

There’s a sense of people being kinder and more considerate to one another, so I’d like to see that continue.

20 Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

Not a bit. I’ve been through worse and my optimism is fully intact. Here’s to RECOVERY!

Brian Kennedy will return to The Ballygally Castle Hotel, Larne, on Friday December 4 for his annual Christmas concert. Tickets available from

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