Thursday 29 September 2016

Dishing the dirt on keeping death from the door

Lay of the land

Fiona O'Connell

Published 04/10/2015 | 02:30

It may give you the chance to enjoy living the good life, but moving to the country provides no magic elixir for immortality
It may give you the chance to enjoy living the good life, but moving to the country provides no magic elixir for immortality

It may give you the chance to enjoy living the good life, but moving to the country provides no magic elixir for immortality. Sadly, people get sick and die here, the same as they do in cities.

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However, there does seem to be an awful lot of long-lived folk in these parts, with the oldest man in this town aged over 100 - and still living independently.

Most older folk around here are likewise active and outgoing - which no doubt plays a part in their longevity. It certainly isn't always due to following modern health-and-safety standards, as the tale that one local told me about her father and his friend proves. Where, if anything, it seems a case of what doesn't kill you makes you not only stronger, but also live longer.

Her father's friend passed away last year, just a few months shy of reaching his centenary. A bachelor who shared his home with copious cats and dogs, the place was so filthy that this woman's father used to bring his own cup, wrapped in a pile of kitchen paper, for when his less-fussy friend made him a hot whiskey.

The woman always chided her fastidious father for doing so, accusing him of having a brass neck. Maybe so - but surely better a brass neck than a bout of botulism.

After all, the bachelor would eat his sausages straight from the pan, dunking his bread in the lard before it set. Then he left the pan on the stove for the dogs to lick clean.

One evening, the bacteria-loving bachelor was off getting something in another room. The woman's father had just set his glass down next to him at the cosy fireplace - when a cat hopped up and deposited something best reserved for the kitty litter right beside his glass.

Horrified, the woman's father grabbed one of the old Ireland's Own magazines that were hanging up around the fireplace.

He whacked the dubious deposit away and sat right back down; as relieved as the ill-mannered moggie clearly was.

Until, that is, the bachelor returned and saw the much-loved magazine on the ground.

He promptly picked it up and slapped down the Ireland's Own - covered in the cat's odious own - right beside his friend's glass.

Fortunately, such unsanitary shenanigans didn't affect their bromance, which continued after the bachelor finally had to move into a nursing home, where it emerged that another factor in his longevity may have been due to his never having slept in a bed.

Instead, he had a lifelong habit of curling up in a chair. Probably because he used to be a cattle dealer, who had to be up very early to get the cattle to mart.

So for the last few months of his life, the nursing home staff let the bachelor continue to kip on a cushioned bench.

It seems there is no sleeping on the job when it comes to enjoying a long life.

Sunday Independent

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