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Me and my health: Entertainer and actor John Linehan on his lifestyle


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Great laugh: John Linehan at home

Great laugh: John Linehan at home

With wife Brenda

With wife Brenda

As May McFettridge

As May McFettridge

Great laugh: John Linehan at home

The 68-year-old entertainer and actor from north Belfast is a familiar sight in Northern Ireland's panto scene where he performs as hilarious alter ego May McFettridge. He is married to Brenda (66) and they have two children, Donna (42) and Kerry (37), and three grandchildren, Johnny (21), Eve (3) and Paul (1).

Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?

Before this all happened, I loved playing golf and I love walking. Any time I'm doing panto, I would walk into work at the Opera House, which is three miles from north Belfast. I would play a wee bit of golf if I can. In the last couple of years I've had surgery, including rotator cuff surgery, and that kept me at arm's length from the golf, so the last couple of years hasn't been great for golf. I am just trying to get myself back to health.

What is the worst illness you've had?

I suppose the bomb I was in back in 1973. I was in a bar. Brenda and I were upstairs in the lounge, the bomb went off, and me and her ended up on the ground floor - and we didn't take the stairs.

I had mostly facial injuries - arms, legs, bad cuts and whatever. I had 26 stitches in my face and the wife was injured as well - she had to get surgery afterwards. After the bomb I could see her cheek bone sticking out and I could see the white of her skull in her forehead. I thought I'd lost an eye because I couldn't see out, but it was just badly injured - my nose had dropped a bit but they managed to get it back up again. We were only just going with each other. We were both in our teens, but we've stuck together and that is us 40 odd years later.

How healthy is your diet?

I've put on about 10lb from this lockdown started. Normally I go to the gym three days a week and they put me through whatever I have to go through, and then it just stopped. You have to have motivation, someone pushing you, but the weight will come back off.

First thing in the morning I have a cup of coffee and a bowl of muesli with fresh fruit and milk - that is about 7 o'clock. Then about 11am Brenda would put a couple of eggs on and at 3pm we might have a wee drop of soup. It's light eating.

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As May McFettridge

As May McFettridge

As May McFettridge

Any bad habits?

Dark chocolate ginger biscuits.

Do you drink and smoke/ if so how much?

Before all this I liked an odd pint. A drive and a five iron and that's me at the golf club - I like to have a pint there. But I'm not one for drinking in the house, only on Christmas Day, and even then I have two shows the day before Christmas Day and two on Boxing Day so there's no point in having a hangover. It's great when you're 25 but not in your 60s. I like my beer but you have to have a big crowd and be the centre of attention at Fortwilliam Golf Club.

I don't smoke, I did when I was a young lad in my 20s and then I would have had a wee puff, but I was never a heavy smoker at all. I haven't touched cigarettes in 30 years.

Do you take any supplements?

I've a litany of tablets I have to take for different ailments. I have a neurological problem called syringomyelia which causes muscle wastage. I'm lucky that it is affecting the top of my spine as opposed to the bottom. If it was the bottom, I'd probably be in a wheelchair but as it is, it's affecting my left hand side, including my left shoulder. There's a lot of things I can't do like comb my hair or lift anything with my left hand.

How do you take time out?

In my game you are not working five days a week unless you are doing panto and then that's six days a week for eight weeks. The rest of the year if you're working, you're doing weddings, TV shows, radio, personal appearances and you aren't flat out. It's nice, you can get plenty of time out. I meet up with my mates, I have a game of golf and if I can I get a couple of days away with my family. Maybe you have to look after the grandchildren which we don't mind doing at all.

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With wife Brenda

With wife Brenda

With wife Brenda

How well do you sleep?

I would go to my bed at 7pm and I might watch a couple of TV shows. If the lights are out at 10pm, that's me usually until 6am or 7am the next morning. I can get eight hours no bother - I would just shut my eyes and be out cold in a minute.

Do you worry about getting old?

No, I was just talking about this with Brenda and I turned round and said: "This thing about getting old, it's not great, but when you think about the alternative..."

I don't mind growing old - it's a thing that I've never had to deal with and I look forward every day to dealing with it. The things you can remember used to annoy you - they don't annoy you now.

What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?

Guinness. Recently I read somewhere that it would be possible to live on oranges and Guinness for the rest of your life - but they don't say how long your life would be! It would be great for a couple of weeks, but it would sicken me because I hate oranges.

John is urging the public to support NI Hospice at this time as fundraising is so difficult, and is asking people to help the NHS by staying at home and staying two metres away from others

Belfast Telegraph