The first modern Olympics were hosted by Athens, Puccini's La Bohème premiered in Turin and Queen Victoria became the longest reigning monarch in British history. The year was 1896 and in a corner of north-east London an ironmonger's wife gave birth to a boy, Henry.
One hundred and twelve years later, Henry William Allingham is in rude health as the oldest man in Europe. On Friday the First World War veteran will celebrate his birthday by watching a fly-past of vintage aircraft, including a Hurricane and a Spitfire.
On the same day George Francis, the oldest living American male, will also turn 112. It is thought the only man in the world who is older is Tomoji Tanabe of Japan, who turns 113 in September. He says that abstaining from alcohol has kept him healthy. Allingham, with a twinkle in his eye, has always attributed his own longevity to 'cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women'. More...
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