This week I was asked by BBC Sheffield to come on their station and talk my attempt with their very funny breakfast presenter, the comedian Toby Foster. They were doing a feature about people living longer and I was meant to come on at the end to close the discussion. Apparently I’m the ideal person to explore such matters because I’m trying to become the oldest man in the world.
I thought this was very funny. I’m glad that now I’ve stated I’m going for the record I am an official authority on longevity. I can see the logic and I have, after all, got an unblemished record of living so far. Not once have I been in that situation where your heart stops for a bit and you’re declared dead and then you come round and you have a really good story to tell people. I’ve not been in a coma. I’ve never broken a bone. I’ve never even been unconscious. I think I’ve had one rash (I’m currently doing a show with a jazz band - The Horne Section, come along! and our saxophonist claims to have never been ill. This is ridiculous. Also, the trumpeter thought that all hair grown during or after puberty (on legs, chest, face, armpits etc) is pubic hair. We had a big discussion about this in a pizza restaurant and found out from the internet that he was wrong).
I’ve had one near-death experience; a car crash. But even that was a low-speed affair resulting in no damage to people or vehicles. I did, for one split-second, think I might die (and if I had, my dying word would have been quite a jaunty, ‘hello!’). But that’s pretty much the extent of my flirtation with death thus far.
One question Toby asked me was whether I was worried about tempting fate with this project. I didn’t answer it particularly well because I hadn’t really thought about it before. It hadn’t really struck me that going round telling people I was trying to get very old might make it less likely to happen. I’m not sure if I believe in the idea of fate (I’m afraid I’m more of the less exciting opinion that we just happen to be here because the stuff that happened to come into being 13.7 billion years ago happened to react in such away to create stuff like us and we’ll be around for a bit then die and more stuff will be created and yes there are lots of unanswered questions but don’t worry about it too much - apologies for lack of technical terms there) and even if I did, I’m not sure I could imagine this strange concept succumbing to something as human as temptation. What is it with temptation anyway? First Jesus, then Fate, now desserts? It’s sort of nice, sort of nasty. Like kebabs and Cher from X Factor.
When I’m tempted by things, like desserts, I find I can normally replace the words ‘am tempted by’ with ‘want’ and it means the same thing. I want a new pair of shoes. I want to watch X Factor (yes, I know I shouldn’t like or keep mentioning X Factor, but it’s very entertaining). Being tempted by something implies it’s the something’s fault, not yours.
It doesn’t work the other way round. I’m not tempted by becoming the oldest man in the world. I want to become the oldest man in the world. So wanting something is stronger than being tempted.
If I say I want to live a long time does fate want me not too? If so, is fate really horrible and not nice at all? If so, I’m very glad I’m more into my ‘stuff just happens’ theory.
There is little point to this blog (or, indeed life), except to say that I’m very happy to carry on merrily trying to avoid death for as long as possible. The plan to have a lot of fun at the same time and do things like go on the radio with Toby Foster. And if this does somehow pique fate into drastic action, well, at least those who do believe in him/her/it will have their own convictions confirmed.
See you next week?