The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - March 3, 2016

editorial image
Share this article
Have your say

I couldn’t think of anything worse than living until the age of120.

I mean I’m not yet 40 and I’ve got aches and pains all over. Getting in the bath is tricky (it’s so difficult to get your leg over, so to speak), so imagine the state I’d be in if I lived another 80 years?

I raise this because, as you might have seen, a woman from Argentina has been named the world’s oldest living human after celebrating her 119th birthday.

She was born on February 15, 1897, so long ago Queen Victoria was on the throne, a cheesed-off Albert Einstein was an unemployed teacher, Oscar Wilde was locked up for “acts of gross indecency” with men, and Inspector Morse had just started on ITV.

Back then Morse was driving a horse and cart, of course, and not a burgundy Jaguar, but he was still just as good at solving highly improbable murder cases which generally involved a woman he had had close relations with in the past.

When I say, by the way, and as I stated at the beginning of this article, that I don’t wish to live to a grand old age, I don’t mean I’d be happy to shuffle off this mortal coil any time soon.

For one thing, I’m halfway through a good book.

I’m also keen to see who wins the FA Cup and whether Andy Murray will smile at any point during Wimbledon (Ladbrokes are offering 4,000-1 that he’ll laugh in the first week, though only the most foolhardy gamblers are placing money on it; he is, however, being heavily backed to, at some point during the tournament, unleash a torrent of expletives at his coaching team in the players’ box and blame them for the fact he just lost a second set tie-break).

Age is a funny thing. Once upon a time I looked … not handsome – my ears are too big for that and I’ve always had a small wart on the left side of my nose … but at least passable.

Now I can’t even claim that. My eyes are puffy, my skin wrinkled and baggy, and hair sprouts so quickly from my nostrils that I have to trim it three times a day.

It’s the little things you notice. Once I could play football, go for a swim, then jog home. Now if I play five-a-side on a Thursday night, Friday involves setting the morning alarm 45 minutes earlier than usual so Mrs Canavan can help swing my legs out of the bed and give me a fireman’s lift to the bathroom.

All of which makes me wonder just how Celina Del Carmen Olea has done it.

Mrs Olea (left) is the afore-mentioned 119-year-old from Argentina, now in the Guinness Book of Records simply for surviving.

I read about her to see if there were any clues as to why she has lived so long, but there weren’t really.

She grew up on a rural farm and moved to Buenos Aires in the 1960s with her husband, where they lived in the slums.

According to her son – a chap called Alberto, who, presumably, must be getting on a bit himself – his mother is increasingly blind and deaf but “requires no medicine apart from skin cream for cysts”.

How depressing to learn that a 119-year-old takes fewer tablets than yourself.

Mrs Olea had 11 children (she has outlived them all apart from Alberto), never smoked, always ate well, and puts her longevity down to long walks and a life filled with love.

As I told Mrs Canavan, I tick all those boxes apart from the latter.

As you grow older, you do get a sense of your own mortality and, accordingly, I have tried to lead a more healthy lifestyle of late. For example, I only have two rashers of bacon with my cooked breakfast each morning as opposed to three.

Hopefully that will help do the trick and give me a few more years, though whether I’ll make it to 119 remains to be seen.