This attempt to become the oldest man in the world commenced on 10th September 1978. That was my actual birthday, the one before my first birthday, and if people think I look much older or younger than the 31 years and 7 months since that date I do have a certificate to prove it and am prepared to drive (carefully) the 45 miles down to my parents’ house in Midhurst, retrieve the document and scan it in if you still don’t believe me. I’m taking this thing seriously.
Ever since the moment I slid (carefully) into the world I have studiously avoided things like sharks, ravines and rabies in a calculated bid to stay alive. And even though I say so myself, it's been a pretty impressive attempt so far.
In the 31 years and 7 months I’ve been (carefully) breathing I’ve suffered no broken bones and contracted no serious diseases. Apart from my smooth arrival into the world, I’ve had just one stay in hospital, and that was with a dodgy appendix which was immediately removed, thus teaching all other parts of my body that weakness will not be tolerated.
In fact, it wasn’t completely the appendix’s fault. I was eleven at the time, and according to the surgeon’s report, the tiny tube on the end of my young intestine had been invaded and infected by a dog hair. We did have a dog at the time (Hamish, a loyal black labrador who sadly bowed out of the Oldest Dog race at the age of 13, just 7 years short of his target, the equivalent of me living to the ripe old age of 106) and I had, apparently, swallowed one of his hairs. Sat up in my hospital bed, staring at the swollen former part of my body that a nurse had kindly kept in a jar for me, I realised that even the most innocent of things could be a potential death trap. In the twenty years since, I haven't once licked a dog.
Ironically, one of the biggest and stealthiest killers in this country is old age itself, the very thing I’m trying to reach. This is a truly treacherous task. The older I get, the more dangerous it becomes. And even now, in my early thirties, there are potential killers around every corner: ovens that might explode, fish bones that might get stuck in my throat, even the corner itself that might somehow pierce my remaining organs.
But I’m determined to pick a safe path through such perilous forests and so on my tkday (one’s 10,000th day on earth, when you’re about 27 years and 4 months old), I decided to step up the challenge, concentrate even harder and definitely aim for the record. No longer would I be content with a ‘good innings’, I wanted the highest innings (what I mean is I decided that I definitely wanted to live longer than anyone else. When people die at something like 85 people say they had a ‘good innings’. It’s a cricketing metaphor. But a good innings has to be a century really. And once you’ve got your century, you should really stick around and get a few more runs).
By 2006 I had I finally admitted that my previous bid to become the world’s tallest man had ground to a halt just a few frustrating feet short (I’m 6’2” tall, the same as Natasha Kaplinsky), but grabbling the title of world’s oldest man would more than make up for this. So for the last few years I have done my best not to die every single day of my life and have even gathered support from members of my family and the wider public.
At various public events over the last few years I have declared my attempt and encouraged people to back my bid. At one such gathering, one such member (of the public) called Richard was particularly inspired by my endeavour. Richard himself had co-founded a healthy drinks company called innocent some years back and so seemed to think he could help. I liked him. We got on quite well even though we generally met in his office so it was quite formal, and after two years of negotiations we finally hammered out a sponsorship deal that will fund the next 119 years of this project.*
Now, like Roger Federer, Thierry Henry and Tiger Woods (one of whom still hasn’t been accused of cheating), I am a professional athlete. I’m in my prime. I’m feeling good. I know I have a long way to go but I’ve hit my stride and I’m breathing well. I do have a bit of a cold but I’m taking Berocca every day and anyway, if it doesn’t kill me...
*We have agreed that if and when I reach the age of 150 years, they will pay me £1 million. That’s basically a salary of £8,400 per annum for not dying, which isn’t a bad rate (although some of the money will have to go on equipment like safety goggles and, maybe, a nuclear bunker.