A word in your ear - February 2, 2012

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THE Gazette has a long tradition of celebrating milestones.

Golden and diamond weddings fit snugly alongside hard news to help give the pages not only a dash of light and shade, but also rightly mark a family’s happy day.

Then there are the true heroes of the pages, our centenarians – those who have lived long, happy, often hard lives, and whose achievement of reaching 100 – living through two world wars, a Great Depression, a cultural revolution and a Millennium – should be celebrated.

My own last grandparent would have been 100 in April had she not died a few months ago, at the grand old age of 99.

Born on the day of the Titanic’s sinking, Gran would have raised a few sherries herself, and undoubtedly re-told the story she had countless times before about how her mother resisted the temptation to call her Tiana in tribute.

Shamefully with me being a journalist, and my Gran getting near the 100 mark, I never asked her that question I, like all reporters, are taught to ask such people when at Hack School: “What do you put such a long and healthy life down to?”

It is the same question we ask our golden and diamond wedding couples, and one which usually comes back with the age-old classic “a bit of give and take” – and then sometimes more unusual answers.

No more so than the one given to an old colleague of mine who was told by one couple from Chorley exactly how they kept spice in their marriage – and at exactly which Yorkshire beauty spot!

Embarrassed, the poor chap made his excuses, put the phone down and did not speak for the rest of the day.

Maybe he should have been handed the kind of job many of the nationals were given this week when they turned up to speak to Kathleen ‘Kit’ Connell, who turned 100.

While I am sure a “bit of give and take” and “always look after your health” were in there as reasons behind her grand old age, Kit actually attributed her sharp mind and sprightly nature to, you guessed it, regular sessions on a Nintendo DS. “It’s absolutely super, I can’t speak highly enough of it. I don’t know what I would do without it,” Kit said.

“I’ll play it in the evening, then I’ll have a break and a cup of tea, then I’ll go back to playing my Nintendo,” she added.

The Nintendo DS fan owns around a dozen games, including Scrabble, Art Academy and Family Fortunes.

She proudly admitted Brain Trainer had scored her a mental age of 64-years-old – 36 years younger than her real age.

How cool is that?

I went on WiiFit the other day and was told I had a virtual age of 57.

Then I hear Kit’s next statement: “When I got the first leg amputated I had to have a transfusion of two pints of blood.

“It must have been the young blood I was given, and I told the doctors how much better I felt.”

New blood, game consoles, ain’t science great?

If I reach 100, and a news hound of the day turns up on his hover board and armed with his iPad97, I think I’ll sit down and tell them what my forefathers said – a long life is down to a bit of “give and take” – that and an addiction to Football Manager on the PC.