I have survived another week. Not only that, I’m flourishing; my hair is growing more vigorously than ever and my trousers have recently become quite tight. I am ALIVE!
Another person who is alive is a Japanese fellow called Dr Nakamats. I was alerted to his existence last week by a friend of mine who is right behind my record attempt and so thought I ought to know about a potential competitor.
Dr Nakamats is streets ahead of me right now. He’s 82 and incredibly fit. He does press ups and crunches and swimming and he wrestles men half his age and twice his size wearing nothing but saggy grey pants. He’s quite a man, Dr Nakamats.
My friend found him featured in a documentary shown on More4 called ‘The Invention of Dr Nakamats’. The film, a simple but gripping hour shot by a Dane, follows Dr Nakamats during the build up to and aftermath of his 80th birthday. I hope I’ll be as sprightly as Dr Nakamats when I reach that age.
The title of the film refers to Dr Nakamats’ job, which he seems to be rather good at. He holds the world record for the amount of patents ever held, which, at the time of filming, is 3357 (three times as many as Thomas Edison). It’s unclear how many of these patents have translated into actual things or whether he really was the man who invented the floppy disk, as he claims, but that’s a big number; almost one invention a day for ten years! Or one a week for 64 years or, most pertinently, one every fortnight for 130 years! It’s a lot of inventing.
Longevity is at the top of his list of things to tackle. ‘The most important problem of mankind is how to elongate life’, he says in his gruff broken English. ‘I think that nothing is impossible’. He’s convinced he’s going to make it to 144 years old; ‘I’m only half way through life’, he says with complete conviction.
His methods are, of course, peculiar. ‘I only eat one meal a day – if you eat three meals a day you age very fast. If you grow hungry you are not using your brain enough. As long as you use your brain well you won’t go hungry.’ I don’t quite see the logic and don’t think I could really sacrifice two meals a day (I really like breakfast, I really like lunch and I really like dinner so I wouldn’t know which to keep and which to lose – also, I’d probably get extremely hungry), but you have to admire Dr Nakamat’s commitment to his beliefs.
He’s taken a photo of every meal he’s eaten for the last 34 years. Amazing. Every single meal. The film shows him sitting down to a big Sunday lunch with his family then, when when some people might say grace or just pass around bread, he’s there with his digital camera (which he bought because it smelt nice – honestly), snapping away. Each of these photos he then blows up and puts in a book. Incredible.
And that’s only the half of it. He also has a blood test after every meal to show how the food has affected his health. From this procedure he’s managed to find the 55 best foods for human life and has invented a single disgusting-looking food with elements of all 55. And you can wash this down with some ‘Brain Drink’, his own type of tea made from 13 different medical herbs which Dr Nakamats says are particularly good for the brain.
He’s either a genius or quite loopy. I hope he’s a genius. I hope he makes it to 144 and thus sets me a terrific score to chase, like when South Africa got those 434 runs against Australia. But I am worried he’s going to kill himself en route. His basic method for inventing, for example, involves flirting with death in a swimming pool; he thinks of ideas by holdings his breath underwater because, he says, the brain works best when starved of oxygen (he’s invented an underwater notepad to make the process a little easier). The closer he gets to actually dying, the better ideas he comes up with. ‘The ideal time for thinking’, he says, ‘is 0.5 seconds before death’. I could see how that might go wrong.
Just by the way, Dr Nakamats also never sleeps for more than four hours (he invented the Cereberex chair for taking power naps – it’s essentially a chair with a hood), is active at all times and is one of the top twelve most expensive lecturers in the world.
But if there’s one thing I’d take from Dr Nakamats, its his enthusiasm for all things new. A lot of 80 year olds I know (I know seven 80 year olds) haven’t embraced technology. They’re not online, they can’t cope with satellite tv, they don’t text. Dr Nakamats is not only au fait with all these things, he’s trying to invent ways of improving them. If you’re going to enjoy old age you need to stay interested. Dr Nakamats is both interested and interesting.
Once again the headline news is that I’m still alive. The record attempt is still on. I’ve now been persevering for 31 years 9 months and 11 days. Beat that Blaine!
(By Blaine, I mean David Blaine – the man who does things like standing up for a week and expects people to be impressed. Be the oldest man in the world, David, and then I’ll think you’re magic)
On Monday this week I found out that two of my great great aunts lived to the grand old age of a hundred. They were called Maud and Tat and they have filled me with hope. I have longevity in my genes. As I’ve said before, three of my grandparents are still alive, nearly all their siblings are still going too, and my very own Rosie is well into her fifties and looking fitter than ever (she is a tortoise). All signs point to me not just beating but smashing the old age record, and then rebuilding it and smashing it again.
Flushed with confidence I therefore decided to put a bet on myself becoming the World’s Oldest Man. Put your money where your mouth is, I thought. So I did. On Tuesday I went to a betting shop, took my money out of my mouth and tried to give it to Mr William Hill.
But to my dismay, Bill Hill wouldn’t take my money. And not just because it was soggy. He said that he wouldn’t give odds for ‘that sort of bet’. I contacted every single other major bookie in the country and was told the very same thing by each one.
I don’t understand this. Bookmakers have a history of giving odds for slightly unusual bets (see this article- one of these I actually made myself – come and see my show Odds in London and at the Edinburgh Festival to find out more. Shameless plug over) so why wouldn’t they touch this? It is statistically rather unlikely that I’ll actually win and anyway, they can choose the odds. What do they have to lose? What are they worried about?
Moreover, if I did happen to win and they’d given me odds of, say, 100,000 to 1, they wouldn’t have to pay out until the year 2121, or thereabouts. That much money will almost certainly be worth far less then. If they put my bet in a high interest bank account they’d make far more money in the mean time. And also, unless the person accepting my bet is younger than me they would, by the very nature of the bet, be dead when I win, so they really shouldn’t worry quite so much.
The only reason I could possibly think that they wouldn’t take my bet is because it might put certain members of the public in danger. For if they were to offer me odds of, say, 1,000,000 to 1 on a £10 bet to be the oldest man in the world, I would immediately have quite a strong motive to ‘get rid’ of everyone in the world older than me. By simply eliminating these three billion people I’d make myself a cool £10,000,000.
But they should know be better than that. I’m a peaceful soul. And also I’m far too disorganised to pull off that sort of stunt.
So, bearing in mind the general apathy of the country’s bookmakers I would like to pass this bet on to you, the reader. Would you like to bet with me that I’ll become the oldest man in the world? If so, what odds would you give me? Let me know and if the numbers seem satisfactory I’ll almost certainly put a bet of at least a quid on. We then just need to stay in touch for another 100 years to see who wins.
Now, 305 might not sound like an enormous number (the cricketer Graeme Swann has 43,492 followers) (I am beating him in the competition that counts though; he’s an irretrievable 195 days YOUNGER than me), but I now live my extraordinarily long life imagining these 300 people cheering me on, urging me down the safest of paths and generally stopping me dying. I’m hoping they’ll soon set up some sort of a system whereby one of them looks after me full time every single day; just one day a year’s work for them but perpetual guardian angels for me.
Unfortunately, while I appreciate their encouragement, the advice that these supporters have so far given me has proved rather conflicting. I have tried to take on board all their well-meaning ideas but my attempts to incorporate them into my lifestyle have proved distinctly tricky.
@zoefell, for instance, suggested that I sleep between 6 and 9 hours a night. Easy enough, you might think, but @sallybetteridge also warned me that the most common time to die in one’s sleep is at 4am. I have therefore been either getting up quite early (3.55am) or going to bed quite late (4.05am) and as a result have often been sleeping less than the recommended amount.
@stoo_h advised a diet of couscous. I therefore ate couscous every day for a week and felt very very sick and was pretty sure I was going to die. @webponce warned me that there had been 71 accidents involving shoe polish in 2001. I threw out my shoe polish and then went to a wedding with dirty shoes. I got dirty looks and was, once more, pretty sure my life was in danger, this time because of an angry usher.
I liked @MooseAllain’s suggestion: ‘get a lot of time under your belt early doors, leaving much less to deal with towards the end’. But then I grew worried that by doing so I might end up peaking too early. You don’t want to look too confident too early then fall at the crucial moment. I’ve always said Mount Everest has peaked too early. Sure, it’s the tallest today but K2’s creeping up (and I hope to live long enough to see it one day steal the title from that lanky cocky piece of rock).
@FatRedBird put forward the slightly controversial scheme of 'removing' the 3 billion people older than me (leaving me with free time for other record attempts). I see the logic, of course, and am sorely tempted to get the record done and dusted tomorrow. But I know quick fix solutions normally come with a catch. And, actually, ‘removing’ that many people might be dangerous in itself.
It is, without doubt, a sticky business, staying alive. I’ve therefore decided I need to follow one person’s advice at a time. I’m going to become a follower myself. And the person I’d like to follow first, is a very old person. The oldest person, in fact - on twitter, at least.
So, I need you to help me again – help me find the oldest person on twitter. If you’re on twitter and you’re very old, get in touch with me on twitter. If you’re not very old, then tell me the oldest person you follow – I’ll then ask them the oldest person they follow, and as long as they don’t only follow people younger than themselves I should find the oldest person on twitter pretty quickly.
It’s a foolproof plan. So then, who’s the oldest person on twitter? And, if it’s you, how did you live so long? I need help.
To become a World Champion you have to beat a World Champion. So here’s a quick look at the man whose title I’m trying to take.
His name is Walter Breuning and he is, literally, a superman. Born on September 21st 1896, he is the world’s longest living male supercentenarian (someone over the age of one hundred). The undisputed champ, Walter is on fantastic form.
The oldest person in the world, a Japanese supercentenarian called Kama Chinen, died on Sunday at the age of 114 years and 124 days. Few details are known of the Okinawan resident but for seven months she could claim to have lived longer on this earth than any other human. What a claim. A French lady called Eugénie Blanchard (48 days her junior) now wears her crown. With Kama Chinen’s passing, Walter has moved into the top five oldest people in the world and is still the oldest man in the top ten. There are just 127 days between him and Eugénie at number one. He must, surely, be getting excited.
But, as I’ve already made clear, I would be thrilled just to become the World’s Oldest Man. Oldest Person would, of course, be an honour, but Oldest Man is my aim. So let’s say one last goodbye to Kama Chinen and have a closer look at Walter (and me).
· Walter was born in the 1800s. That’s a good start. I was born in the late 20th century. Already we can see I have a lot of catching up to do.
· Walter left school at the age of 14 and worked in a bakery cleaning pans. I was in full-time education until the age of 22 and, apart from one summer washing up in a hotel, have done next to no hard days work. I thought this might be an advantage in my attempt. I thought wrong.
· After hanging up his rubber gloves, Walter worked for the American Great Northern Railway for over fifty years. I have been a stand up comedian for ten years. I do sometimes use trains though.
· After signing up but not being called up for service in World War I, Walter, incredibly, was too old to serve in World War II. He was too old to serve in World War II. I wasn’t even born until 33 years after the end of World War II. He really is a lot older than me.(thankfully, if there is a World War III, I will almost certainly be too old (as well as other adjectives) to fight too).
· A widower for the last 53 years, Walter is now, by all accounts, a strikingly healthy man. I have been married for five years and have a bit of a cold.
· Walter smoked cigars for ninety years. I tried to smoke a cigar once and thought I was going to die there and then.
· Walter always wears a suit and tie. I have worn a suit and tie twice in the last year. I always feel like I’m being strangled when I wear a tie.
· Walter has an excellent memory. I can’t find my wallet.
· Walter is on no medication. I am currently taking Day Nurse for this cold of mine.
So what I’m saying is; Walter is longevity’s Mohammed Ali. He is awesome, a true World Champion, still at the peak of his game.
But six months before I was born, a virtual unknown called Leon Spinks* stole Ali’s heavyweight title. No-one can be World Champion forever. And despite being a young casual non-smoking soft-working absent-minded husband with a bit of a sniffle, I too think I have a chance.
Watch out Walter. I’m (3 billion places) behind you.
*For the record, while Spinks’ boxing career went seriously downhill after beating Ali, he is still very much alive. So if I’m going to become World Champion, I’ll have to beat him too.