The Belfast playwright is seldom ill and avoids visits to the doctors at all costs. She is married to actor Ian McIlhinney and they have three sons, Darren (35), Matthew (19) and David (14).
Do you get eight hours sleep a night?
Sometimes. If I’m not out partying then, yes, I do. I’m the type of person that could sleep anywhere when I’m tired — even in the theatre when we’re in the middle of rehearsals.
Early bird or night owl?
Well, I’m usually up at 6.30 or 7am every morning during the school year to get my youngest up in the morning but working in the theatre you couldn’t be anything else but a night owl. It involves a lot of late nights and I like to socialise as well.
Do you have a high pain threshold?
I think I do have because I don’t let anyone know when I am ill or in pain. I prefer to suffer in silence. I don’t like people fussing around me — I don’t like the idea of it and I definitely don’t like going to the doctor.
When was your immune system at its best?
I’ve a pretty good immune system. I seldom be ill or have a cold — even when I’ve been burning the candle at both ends.
Have you ever experienced depression?
Not really. I would have to say not really — not when I hear other people talking about their experiences of it. I mean I’ve had times when I’ve been down and very p****d off, but then again I think alcohol’s had a lot to do with that. It’s a real depressant. You’re up all night having fun and then, the next day, you’re feeling down and you spend the day feeling ‘hangy’, just lying around doing nothing. Then, when the day’s over you realise that you’ve wasted it lying around feeling hungover and the guilt kicks in. When I’ve just come back from holiday that would probably be the worst time. You always feel a bit down for a few days because you’ve been out ’til all hours partying.
Old wives tales or as the doctor ordered?
Old wives tales. If it makes me better I’ll take anything anyone conjures up. I would tend to self-medicate or ignore the signs (of being sick) rather than go to a doctor, which I know isn’t a good way to be.
When did you last visit the doctor?
Well, I actually ended up in hospital because of not going to the doctor. I had an infection that lasted too long and I didn’t act soon enough on it. (My family and friends were on at me to go and get it checked out, but I suppose I thought it would go away if I forgot about it.) I ended up spending three days in hospital on a drip.
Last time you were feeling under the weather — what did you do?
I probably took two Paracodol and told myself that I would be fine!
Do you calorie count?
No, I don’t watch my diet as I don’t believe in it. Having said that, in the last few months I cut out bread and potatoes. I’ve a friend that’s very thin and she doesn’t eat bread or potatoes. I thought I’d give it a go to see if I’d end up like her. I do think I’ve lost a bit of weight, you know, you don’t feel as bloated or groggy after a meal, also. When I look at a big piece of bread now, I think ‘There’s no way I could eat that.’
Do you eat your five a day?
Yes, I think I would do but I wouldn’t count them. I always have lots of fruit and veg in the house. I like small fruit like grapes and strawberries that I can nibble away at. Apples are too much like hard work when you’re always on the run.
Do you take any supplements?
Yes, I take beta-carotene. Don’t ask me why! A long time ago, when I was in the States on tour, a scientist asked me if I was a smoker and he told me that if I took beta–carotene it would lessen the chances of getting lung cancer. (When I’m out drinking I smoke maybe 20 and, if not, then it’s about 10.) Now, I don’t know if that’s right or not, but I’ve taken them ever since — not religiously, now, just when I remember. I’ve just discovered a wonder-drug called Berrocca as well which gives me a huge dose of Vitamin C. It’s a vitamin drink, but it works wonders for me.
Do you exercise?
No, it’s too boring. I do it for about two minutes and then I get so bored out of my mind that I have to stop.
Hair of the dog?
A Berrocca and two paracodols. It works for me! I like a fry without the bread, of course.
Do you believe in the mid-life crisis?
Yes, I do but I don’t think that there’s one answer to it if you want to know the real reason to it you have to come and see my play ‘Women On The Verge of HRT’ at the Grand Opera House and I’ll explain it to you then.
Organic or ready meals?
I would eat organic, but I wouldn’t be religious about it. I eat a mixture of everything.
Is sex vital to overall wellbeing?
It depends on the person and it depends who it is. I don’t know. It’s hard to answer that. It might be very important to one relationship, but not as much to another.
Best advice ever received?
I suppose always look for the positive in everything. If you concentrate on the positive side of things it makes you feel better.
Have you ever donated blood?
No, I haven’t and not because I haven’t wanted to. I just have never got round to it.
The Organ Debate — would you?
Yes, I would of course, but I don’t have a card or anything. I hate filling in forms and when I look at a form my eyes glaze over. It doesn’t matter whether they’re tax forms, VAT forms, whatever, I hate doing it.
Desert island must have?
Tweezers for my eyebrows and everywhere else! Otherwise I’d end up looking like Einstein!
Women On The Verge of HRT is on at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, until Saturday, August 16