I’m guilty of always feeling guilty about one thing or another. My latest guilt trip revolves around not being a very convincing Santa Claus and possibly putting an end to my child’s innocent belief in the jolly old man at the age of six.
But I’m not feeling guilty, as many do in the bleakness of January, about drinking too much this Christmas. Is this attitude destined to put me in an early grave? Maybe not.
An article on the BBC today tells us that the secret to living longer is drinking large quantities of wine (preferably that you make yourself with your own grapes) and moving to an island in Greece.
In the 1960s, Stamatis Moraitis – who was living in the United States at the time – was told he had terminal lung cancer. Rather than fork out for an expensive funeral, he decided to head to the island of his birth, Ikaria, and live out the remaining days in a sun-drenched, wine-soaked daze.
He’s still alive and just celebrated his 98th birthday. He told the BBC: ‘I found my friends in the village where I was born, and we started drinking. I thought, at least I’ll die happy.
‘Every day we got together, we drank wine, and I waited. Time passed by and I felt stronger. Nine months came – I felt good. Eleven months came – I felt better. And now, 45 years later, I’m still here!
‘A few years ago I went back to the US and tried to find my doctors. But I couldn’t find them. They were all dead.’
Ikaria is a tiny island with a population of 8000. Two and half times as many people reach the age of 90 on the island as they do in the United States.
According to the Office for National Statistics, life expectancy in the UK is 78 years for males and 82 for females. The area with the highest life expectancy is the affluent Kensington and Chelsea borough in London; the lowest is Glasgow City in Scotland.
Stamatis makes 700 litres of wine per year, which he drinks with his friends. He doesn’t believe that commercially made wine is as good for your health because it contains preservatives.
Since I can’t exactly move to Greece immediately – and there’s the small problem of how to make a living – I’ll make do with commercial equivalents of wine and hope for the best.
Anyhow, I’m convinced that all my commuting back and forth on the Tube – a vehicle for transporting germs more than anything else – is destined to shorten my life a lot faster than drinking, but I have no hard facts to back this up.
My American readers might be interested to note that Loma Linda, CA, is also a long-life hotspot. The website for the city, south of Los Angeles, says: ‘Loma Linda is a unique community of 21,000. The city has been a national center of health and wellness research for decades. Loma Linda offers residents an alternative to the intense, often anonymous lifestyle so characteristic of modern life. It is no surprise to find numerous families strolling along the city’s tree lined streets, or playing in its numerous parks.’
Well, it sounds a tad boring and not quite as idyllic as olive groves, but I’m willing to take a chance on it after England’s second wettest year on record since these records began. (Don’t ask me when they began, but it was a long time ago.)
Other places you could try are the island of Okinawa, Japan; Nuoro province, Sardinia; and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. Interestingly, they all appear to be coastal regions but I’m guessing they aren’t cloudy and drizzly most of the year. Just a guess.