Monday 24 October 2016

You've got 116 years to come up with the secret ... at least make it interesting

Gertrude Weaver
Gertrude Weaver

American Gertrude Weaver has died at the age of 116. At the time of her death she was the oldest person on the planet. So a good innings all in all.

Because of her advanced years, she had been interviewed a number of times about her longevity and put it down to "treating everybody good". This joins a long list of platitudinous clichés that every tremendously old person inevitably gives about their great age.

You know the drill, a camera crew shows up at a nursing home or retirement community and thrusts a microphone in front of a remarkably aged person (sometimes wearing a party hat or sitting in front of a birthday cake, looking a bit fed up).

They are then asked what the secret to a long life is. None of them give the real answer, which is either "I don't know", or "Genetics and dumb luck you pillock".


Instead, like Gertrude Weaver, they try to be helpful and say things like, "I didn't drink or smoke", or "I took a nip of whiskey every day", or "Exercise and fresh air", and so forth.

We need to help these old folks and provide them a selection of answers which might actually grab a headline or two. My proposal is as follows.

Our President writes to centenarians and sends them a cheque. From now on, he also needs to send a list of instructions for how to handle the moment the reporters arrive. It should read:

"If by chance you become the oldest person in the world and journalists ask you your secret, please respond with one of the following sentences.

-I've kept a raisin in my ear since 1932.

-I visit a tremendous amount of prostitutes.

-I soak the top of my head in anti-freeze every second Wednesday.

- I eat cats."

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