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Me and my health: Martin Lynch

Playwright Martin Lynch (57) lives in north Belfast. He has two grown-up daughters, Gráinne and Briege, and one grandson, Conan (3). His new play, Chronicles of Long Kesh, tours next January.

Do you get eight hours' sleep a night?

Yes, although I have the worst type of sleeping arrangements. I write a lot at night or else I read a lot — that's just my lifestyle.

I get up at around 8 or 9am and go to bed about 1am. My grandson, Conan, usually comes in and wakens me around 7.30am wanting a story read to him, or else I take him down to the kitchen to get his breakfast.

At Christmas, when I get books bought for me, I tend to read through the night.

Early bird or night owl?

I'm a night owl, although that has changed a lot since I've got older. I hate going to bed and I hate getting out of bed! It's just the nature of my life — I'm not a creature of habit. Routine would be the death of me.

My friend, Graham Reid, a playwright, used to say to me that I should try writing early in the mornings and I recommended that he try late night writing when it's only you who is awake and everyone else is in bed. Now, I mix it up and do both.

Do you have a high pain threshold?

I think I do. I had a stone in my kidney a few years ago which was quite painful. But I managed to get through it.

When was your immune system at its best?

I've never thought of things like that, but naturally as you get older you pay more attention.

I played 5-a-side football for two hours every week at the Whiterock Leisure Centre for 22 years right up until I was 50. From then to now, I've become very unfit — I've managed to put on two stone. It's the first time in my life that I've felt unfit.

Have you ever experienced depression?

No, I've been very down a few times, but I've never suffered unduly. From what I've read about it and from what my understanding of depression is, no I haven't. Generally speaking, I think life is for living.

Old wives' tales or as the doctor ordered?

I would normally take what the doctor prescribes me.

When did you last visit the doctor?

At the beginning of April.

Last time you were feeling under the weather what did you do?

I had the flu before Christmas and I ended up in bed for two or three days dosing myself with cold and flu remedies.

Do you calorie count?

You might as well ask me when I was last on the moon!

Do you eat your '5' a day?

Yes, I think I do eat my fair share of fresh fruit and vegetables, but I'm not perfect. I could eat mushrooms 'til the cows come home. I also like green beans, broccoli and spinach.

Do you take any supplements?


Do you exercise?

I'm about to embark on a new regime to lose the two stone that I've put on. I'm going to have to get out and go walking.

Do you believe in the mid-life crisis?

Yes, but I wouldn't necessarily use that term. I believe that we all go through different phases in our lives when we review who we are, what we're currently at and where we're going.

If you don't do that then you're not a thinking person.

Organic or ready meals?

They are two extremes, I would say. Not many people eat organic food all of the time. I buy organic potatoes and I try to cook all my meals with fresh ingredients.

I'm on neither of those sides, I think I fall into the middle somewhere. I don't eat ready meals, I think they should be avoided.

Is sex vital to overall well- being?

I think so, yes.

Best advice ever received?

I grew up in the docks area of Belfast where you needed to know how to look after yourself. My father, Jimmy, was a docker. (Not a doctor as someone once wrote.)

My dad told me: "Don't go looking for trouble, because plenty of trouble will come at you along the road."

I was in a fight once as a wee lad and my dad got to hear about it. He told me the next time I was in a fight to stand sideways so I wouldn't get kneed in the private parts.

It mightn't seem like life enhancing advice, but in those days it was probably a vital piece of information.

Have you ever donated blood?

No. I have thought about it from time to time but I haven't done it so far. My blood probably isn't good enough quality!

The Organ Debate — would you?

I would certainly, if they could be used. I don't know if they would be any use or not.

Hair of the dog?

Food, generally. Eating a good breakfast and taking a couple of paracodol usually helps. Then, I go straight out to work on the garden.

Desert island must have?

These days it would have to be my computer for my writing and anything else that would keep me in touch with the world like the internet. On a desert island I could write forever. I've more plays and ideas than I could ever write in my lifetime.

Gráinne McCarry

Belfast Telegraph


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