We're Not Dead Yet!


Written by Betty Wood
Photos and illustrations by Various
10 Saturday 10th September 2011

A real crowd splitter, for some Thatcher is held up as the poster child of Tory reform, the saviour of a morally and economically declining Britain and feminist figure of empowerment. For others she's seen as the devil incarnate, a bigoted racist with elitist views who destroyed Britain's public industries through privatisation whilst trampling the feminist cause. We don't need to tell you our views on the afore mentioned, but whatever your view, at 86, she's still going. and we've decided to look at old people who despite being elderly insist on proving they're not dead yet!

On 3 August, 'Derby Daredevil' Barbara Smith took to the skies for her first ever skydive at the grand old age of 80. Plunging 12,000 feet out of a plane at an average speed of around 120mph, the octogenarian used her birthday as an opportunity to fundraise for her favourite charity, Action for Children by trying something new. Despite her family trying to talk her out of the stunt, Barbara went ahead with the jump after getting the all-clear from her doctor.

Not to be outdone, 70 year old retired breast cancer surgeon Roger Allsopp became the oldest person to swim the English Channel on 30 August when he completed the 21-nautical mile route in 17 hours and 51 minutes in support of cancer research. It's not the first time he's taken the plunge either - in 2006 he completed his first swim across the channel at the age of 65. Back and in 2001, Mr Allsop completed the London marathon at the tender age of 60.

Nanu Ram Jogi holding daughter Girija Rajkumari.

At the age of 90, Nanu Ram Jogi, a farmer in the Indian state of Rajasthan has fathered his 21st child with his fourth wife Saburi, a baby girl they have called Girija Rajkumari. Mr Jogi fathered his first child in 1943, and with the birth of his daughter, he is now the oldest living 'new dad' in the world. The world's oldest known 'new' father ever was an Australian man called Les Colley who was 92 years old when his ninth child was born in 1989. But here's another stomach churning quote to leave you with regarding Mr Jogi; he proudly boasted in an interview with the Times that "women love me" - Mr Jogi wants "to have children till I am 100. Then maybe it will be time to stop". By that estimation, he's got another decade left to plant his seed and if he succeeds in doing so he'll truly be the oldest father of all time.

Ms. Fukuda in action

This next old lady is kick-ass - literally. At the age of 98, Keiko Fukuda has become the oldest woman in the world to earn the tenth degree black belt, the martial arts highest honour. She still practices the sport despite her ailing frame and is one of only four people in the world to achieve the same rank. Added to this accolade is the fact she's achieved this through a century where Japanese attitudes to women were conservative and it was frowned upon for women to partake in contact sports. Heroine.

Jeanne Calment, who lived to be 122 years old. She smoked for 96 years, drank port daily and ate a kilo of chocolate per week. Top right: aged 20 in 1985. Bottom right: aged 40 in 1915.

What do you do when you've reached the grand old age of 121? Why, release a rap album of course - that is, if you're Jeanne Calment, the world's oldest ever woman. Although we're cheating a bit (this old person is actually dead), we thought Mrs Calment deserved a mention for a) being the longest living person ever having died aged 122 in August 1997, and b) releasing an album at an age when most people are plant food. In 1996, an aptly titled four track EP was released entitled Time's Mistress that featured Mrs Calment speaking over a hip hop backing track. She also starred in her own docu-film, and was the last living person to have met Vincent van Gogh. Apparently, she didn't care for him much.

And for every high, there's a low that's oh so much lower. Take for example the unnamed pensioner arrested in connection with his role in the London riots. The 70 year-old man was held in connection with the theft from a looted shop in Ealing. He was later released after being cautioned by police so the oldest person to be formally charged in connection with criminal disorder during the riots falls on John Maughan. The 63 year-old Camden native was charged in connection with handling stolen goods and is due to appear in court later this month.

And that's it for our super-grans and granddads. Why not tell us about yours?

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