Hit & Run: How to live long and prosper

The world's oldest person, Sakhan Dosova, a mother of 10 from Kazakhstan, celebrating her 130th birthday tomorrow, puts her longevity down to her sense of humour. "I don't have any special secret," she says, modestly. "I've never taken pills, and I've never eaten sweets." Sounds simple, doesn't it?

However, it's not the only theory. Supercentenarians from the Scottish glens to the Japanese islands are quick to come up with different ways to defy the Grim Reaper.

Gertrude Baines (115), who lives in Los Angeles, was thought to be the world's oldest person until Dosova tottered out of the woodwork (Dosova's age came to light during a census earlier this year). Baines simply thanked God for her time on earth when interviewed by CNN in 2006. Portuguese widow Maria de Jesus, who died in January at the age of 115, credited a life free from cigarettes, alcohol and meat (though she often gorged herself on rice pudding or ice cream).

George Burns, the American radio comedian and vaudeville star who died in 1996, aged 100, thought his work was important. "Age means nothing to me," he used to say. "I can't get old. I'm working. I was old when I was 21 and out of work." Bob Taggart, 109, the oldest man in Scotland, told Scotland on Sunday last year that the tunes of Engelbert Humperdinck spiced up his life. "Even around the house, I would love to sing his songs. It helped keep me young."

There are some who even make a living out of their senior looks. Maybe that's the secret? Daphne Selfe, still modelling for Dolce & Gabbana at 80, earns up to £1,000 for a day's work. "I don't feel a day over 60. It's fantastic, it's fun and keeps me young," she says. "I'll continue modelling until they stop asking." Carmen Dell'Orifice, known by the fashion press as a "classic model", is also still working at 77.

So what do the scientists say? "I think the most sensible thing to do is choose your parents very carefully in terms of socio-economic status and genetic background," says Pamela Holmes, head of the healthy ageing programme at Help the Aged.

"Life expectancy is increasing for men and women, but healthy life expectancy is not keeping up. People can be ill for many years. I don't think there is any secret to long life. The straightforward lifestyle advice would be to keep physically active to build up resilience to ill health. And obviously good nutrition – a broad and varied diet doesn't hurt."

But perhaps, instead of heeding the advice of every freak of nature teetering on the precipice, we'd do well to remember the words of Sir Clement Freud, who once remarked: "If you give up smoking, drinking and loving, you don't actually live longer - it just seems like it." Rob Sharp

And now, children, it's time for Poo Peter

Tuesday wasn't the first time that TV viewers watched a pile of crap on Blue Peter. Many traumatised children witnessed Lulu the elephant defecate all over the set (and John Noakes) in 1969. But it's certainly the first time that the 50-year-old children's programme ever encouraged young tricksters to make a fake, April Fool's Day turd out of a plastic bottle, papier mâché and some brown paint (the co-presenter Andy Akinwolere extracted a finished model from a cupboard with the words, "Here's one I made earlier.")

Did Biddy Baxter, the show's veteran editor and éminence grise, know about this tasteful initiative? Is she happy to have her brainchild renamed "Poo Peter" by The Sun? I suspect that, had she known, she'd have pointed out that, far from resembling any turd in the known world, the sticky-backed-plastic version looked like a slab of bread-and-butter pudding. If a thing's worth doing, she would probably have reminded the giggling presenters, it's worth not making it look like shite. John Walsh

Madoff's only winner

Bernard Madoff's victims can only look on in envy. A New York builder made a return of 16,000 per cent by trusting his money to the Wall Street fraudster – when he played the state lottery. Ralph Amendolaro turned a $9 stake into a $1,500 pay-out by betting on the last three digits of Madoff's prison number, 61727-054, after it was splashed in the New York Daily News when he was jailed this month.

Now Amendolaro, 50, is looking over his shoulder. "Madoff (left) will probably be looking to charge me on the investment that I made off him".

Amendolaro certainly has no intention of risking his windfall with a dodgy financier. He's headed to Las Vegas to gamble the winnings. Stephen Foley

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices