LONDON — When Alfred Smith and Bob Weighton had been born, Edward VII was king of Britain. They’ve lived by way of two world wars, greater than 20 prime ministers and all the rule of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. In addition they noticed Britain be a part of the predecessor of the European Union — a bloc it was supposed to go away on Friday, the day each males turned 111.
Because it grew to become clear that the withdrawal referred to as Brexit wouldn’t occur on his birthday in spite of everything, Mr. Weighton, who lives in southern England, echoed a rising frustration with the present political impasse, calling it “a complete mess.”
“My very own feeling is that if there have been defects — and there have been fairly clearly defects — we will negotiate on the within moderately than strolling off the sphere with the cricket ball and saying ‘I’m not taking part in,’” Mr. Weighton instructed the BBC.
However the commonest query he has been requested doesn’t concern politics. He stated most individuals needed to know the key to his longevity — one thing to which he couldn’t reply.
“I’ve no reply, besides to keep away from dying,” he stated.
The oldest individual on file residing in Britain is a lady: Grace Jones turned 112 in September. However males are more and more residing previous the age of 90, and greater than 14,000 centenarians had been residing in Britain in 2017, the newest 12 months such statistics can be found, in keeping with the Workplace for Nationwide Statistics.
Authorities inhabitants estimates see the variety of centenarians passing 65,000 by 2031.
Most British residents obtain a private greeting from Queen Elizabeth II on their 100th and 105th birthdays, and one for annually previous the age of 110. Mr. Weighton instructed the BBC that he would ask the monarch to cease sending him playing cards with a purpose to save public funds.
Mr. Weighton and Mr. Smith, who lives in Scotland, had been each born on March 29, 1908. Lately, their pictures have appeared within the information facet by facet, sitting in armchairs 500 miles aside. Although they’ve by no means met in individual, the 2 males have exchanged birthday playing cards.
“I really feel he’s a twin brother, though technically he’s not,” Mr. Smith stated of Mr. Weighton in an interview final 12 months with the Scottish community STV.
Each males have led an adventurous life spanning continents and completely different jobs. Within the 1930s, Mr. Weighton taught at a missionary college in Taiwan, and moved to the US by the use of Canada.
He and his spouse, Agnes, had been in the US throughout the assault on Pearl Harbor that drew the nation into World Struggle II. He has a son who married a Swede and a daughter who married a German.
“I flatly refuse to treat my grandchildren as foreigners,” he instructed The Guardian final 12 months. “I’m an internationalist, however I’ve not misplaced my satisfaction in being a Yorkshireman or British.”
Mr. Smith immigrated to Canada in 1927 and labored on a farm there. However he returned to Scotland after 5 years to drive vehicles for his brother. He was a farmer till his retirement on the age of 70.
“I prefer to assume I’ve lived an honest life,” he instructed The Scotsman newspaper this previous week. “I do ask myself — why me? Why have I lived so lengthy when others haven’t?” he requested. His spouse died greater than 15 years in the past at 97, and one in every of his sons died in 2016.
As to longevity, Mr. Smith had no definitive reply, both.
“Porridge is useful,” he stated, “and having a job you get pleasure from.”