World's oldest woman rolls back the years

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She may be the world's oldest person but Jeanne Calment - 122 yesterday - has started cutting records and cruising the information superhighway.

Last year, a Parisian production company released Time's Mistress, a four-track CD on which Madame Calment recounted her memories to a musical background of rap, techno and farandole, a Provencal dance tune from the Middle Ages. She was recently shown how a computer works and was helped to set up her own web site on the Internet.

She has become the most famous resident of her home town of Arles, in Provence, since Vincent Van Gogh, whom she knew. He used to come to her uncle's shop to buy paints and she remembered him as "dirty, badly dressed, and disagreeable".

On her doctor's orders, she had a low-key 122nd birthday party yesterday. Her hair was styled for the occasion and, wearing a new dress, she received the Mayor of Arles and a representative from the French government who presented her with flowers. Blind, wheelchair-bound and nearly deaf, Mme Calment said she had impatiently awaited her birthday so she could "eat some chocolate and drink a little sweet wine". Matthew Brace