Over the years many a centenarian has delivered their secret for a long life.
Not smoking, daily exercise, moderate drinking, being married (and sometimes not being married) have all had their champions.
But, at the ripe old age of 105, Clara Meadmore could trump the lot: a life of celibacy.
Miss Meadmore says she has always been too busy for relationships and thought of physical intimacy as a ‘hassle’.
The former secretary, who will celebrate her birthday tomorrow, said she had no regrets about remaining a virgin and had turned down several marriage proposals.
Miss Meadmore said: ‘People have asked whether I am a homosexual and the answer is no. I have just never been interested in or fancied having sex.
‘I imagine there is a lot of hassle involved and I have always been busy doing other things. I’ve never had a boyfriend – I’ve never been bothered about relationships.’
She added: ‘When I was a girl you only had sex with your husband – and I never married.
‘I’ve always had lots of platonic friendships with men but never felt the need to go further than that or marry.
‘Everything seems so fast these days. I don’t know a lot about young people or the way they do things. I’m sure it’s very different. I made my mind up at the age of 12 never to marry and I’ve not gone back on that.’
Miss Meadmore was born in Glasgow in 1903, two years after the death of Queen Victoria. She remembers hearing about the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and the outbreak of the First World War. Her family emigrated when she was seven, first to Egypt, then Canada and later New Zealand. But Miss Meadmore returned to Britain alone in her twenties and worked as a secretary and housekeeper.
She said: ‘I grew up in an era where little girls were to be seen and not heard so I had to learn to stand up for myself and earn my own living.
‘Some men don’t like that in a woman and before long I was too old to marry anyway.’
Instead of boyfriends, Miss Meadmore filled her time with reading, gardening, cooking and listening to the radio.
Yesterday her friend and former neighbour Josie Harvey, 72, said: ‘When she was a little girl she told her mother that she would never marry and for Clara no marriage meant no sex. She is fiercely independent.
‘Maybe never having a man to get under her feet has kept her young all these years. She has her hobbies and her friends and that is all she needs.
‘She has always believed in doing things her own way and that has allowed her to live a long life. Clara listens to Radio 4 all day long and knows what is going on in the world better than most people in their 30s.’
Miss Meadmore trained as a secretary and served in the Army, undertaking administrative duties in Egypt during the Second World War. She was one of the first members of the Youth Hostel Association and a keen member of the Women’s Institute.
Her only surviving family are two nieces in New Zealand who keep in touch by post.
Miss Meadmore will celebrate reaching 105 with a card from the Queen and a glass of wine with her friends at the Perran Bay nursing home in Perranporth, Cornwall.
But she is determined not to let things get out of hand. ‘I’m hardly likely to get drunk and do something silly at my age,’ she said.
Source: daily mail online