Gerry Armstrong: Doing my YouTube show Gerry and Friends during lockdown was great fun - and good for my health

Gail Bells asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: former Northern Ireland international striker, Gerry Armstrong

Gail Bell

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

It hasn't changed that much, really - I still take my daughter to school at 7.30am and my alarm is always set early for that task. I'm usually quite organised and I know what I'm doing pretty much every day which seems to be the same at the moment - it's a bit like Groundhog Day for four or five days of the week...


What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?

Normally, for breakfast I would have some porridge, a slice of toast and a cup of tea.


I don't normally have lunch, to be honest, but I might have another cup of tea. I drink three or four cups of tea every day and sometimes I might have a wee chocolate biscuit with a cuppa, it but I wouldn't really eat properly until the evening.

Evening meal?

I did a nice chicken stir-fry yesterday with lots of vegetables and noodles which was nice, but my wife, Debbie, is a good cook and is often in charge of our meals. I like to eat boiled or mashed potatoes instead of chips with whatever meat or veg we're having. One of the effects of the pandemic on us, as a family, was eating too many takeaways, so one of our new year resolutions is not to have as many in 2022.


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

I had my book - My Story, My Journey - launched a few months ago, but because you couldn't mingle with a lot of people, the launch was restricted to a certain extent. I haven't been able to get over to England, for instance, to do the launch in Tottenham, Watford and Brighton - those are places I'd like to have gone to. Other work has continued, such as my commentating work for Virgin Media [Television] and I'm also working on a whiskey, coming out in March called 'Spirit of '82'. I've been working on it with my two partners, Richard Irwin and Peter Lavery, for a couple of years now and it's going really well. I am a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to whiskey - I like a Jameson's and I do like a Bush, but I'm not big into Scottish whiskies.


Best/easiest lockdown meal?

We've been doing a lot of home-made vegetable soup at the moment.


Weekend treat?

Probably, a takeaway which, as already mentioned, are now being restricted - weekends only... My daughter, Marianna, likes a Domino's pizza, but occasionally we'll have a Chinese meal or else old fashioned fish and chips.


How have you kept physically and mentally fit during the lockdowns?

Our show Gerry and Friends [on YouTube] was great for physical activity and it also made people laugh. We used to do funny stuff – I would go out jogging or running on the beach and it would be videoed and speeded up, Benny Hill-style, during the editing process. Guests included Jimmy Nebsitt, footballers Graeme Souness and Glenn Hoddle and actresses Bronagh Waugh and Bronagh Gallagher. It was great craic.


What has been your daily outdoor exercise?

I spend a lot of time walking.


How do you relax?

Watching TV.


Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple - although, at the moment, I'm in 'dry January' which I do every year. Once, I did a 'dry' January, February and March and then celebrated on St Patrick's Day with a pint of Guinness.


What book are you currently reading?

I'm not a big book reader, but I do a lot of research for my work with Virgin Media. I would spend three or four hours reading up on different football teams so I have all the facts and figures at hand.


Best Netflix?

We're watching The Witcher at the moment.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself?

I know if I put my mind to something I can do it - but I really have to be in the right mood. I'm also a little more cautious now, where before I might have jumped into something with both feet.


On a scale of one to 10, where have you been in relation to cabin fever and where are you now?

I was OK, even at the height of lockdown, because I am an outdoors person and I was the one who went walking and did the shopping and things like that - probably a three.


What are the three things you missed most during the beginning of lockdown?

Freedom, hugs and handshakes and the feeling of not having a mask covering your mouth and nose. I really don't like the feeling of wearing a mask.


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

I'll go somewhere hot - a beach somewhere. We lived in Spain for years and used to walk on the beach all the time in lovely weather.


Biggest gripe?

I don't really have any major gripes.


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

I'm definitely more family-orientated now. I have known a lot of people who have died over this pandemic period, some quite unexpectedly, and it's been hard. It puts the importance of family in perspective.


Any new skills or hobbies?

Not really - I'm 67, so I don't know if I could pick up any new skills or hobbies at this age.


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

I think flexibility has been really important over the past two years. I have been more flexible and have changed my opinion on certain things. I'm now more balanced in outlook, I think, and I want this to continue.


Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

Yes, because I have seen a lot of young people die with Covid and their age didn't matter. I've not had Covid and I haven't had any illnesses over the past two years, but the pandemic has made me realise not everybody has been as fortunate and that everyone is at risk of getting sick.

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