One Hundred Years of Fortitude

Monday was Respect the Aged Day in Japan, which clearly doesn’t treat its holidays lightly: “The number of Japanese centenarians has risen above 80,000 for the first time, meaning that one person in 1,500 in the country is now aged over 100,” reported The Times of London. So you can assume citizens locked their doors in anticipation of all the carousing. But how exactly do they do it? Apparently, it helps to be a woman (88 percent), like Kane Tanaka, who at 117 is the world’s oldest person (she credits chocolate and the board game Othello). A significant number of the very old live in rural areas as well. But since it’s not realistic for us all to move to the warmer southwest region of Japan, where the elderly reportedly “flourish,” we might take a closer look at their modest, fish-heavy, low-fat diet. But we knew that, didn’t we.

Hey, Bulldog …


Zero to 200 Real Quick

Back to the car of the future? Project K.901, known more popularly as the Aston Martin Bulldog, was supposed to be the first street car to top 200 m.p.h., and it got close, 192 m.p.h., before the project was abandoned in 1981 as too expensive. The wedge-shaped, gull-winged supercar—and that’s “supercar” singular; there was only one made—subsequently passed through several owners, beginning with a Saudi prince. It’s now the property of an American who has approved an 18-month overhaul by Classic Motor Cars, working along with Richard Gauntlett, whose father, Victor, was in charge of the original Bulldog project. If things go well, the Bulldog will, in a sense, be going from zero to 200: in recent years, the thing wouldn’t even start. Look for it—but better look fast—next summer.


Double Act

An unnamed I.T. executive flew from Colorado to Paris and immediately back again in July—quarantine regulations be damned—and during his brief layover managed to commit a double murder, according to Le Parisien. He has been arrested and has reportedly confessed to having shot his former partner and her new lover in her apartment in the suburb of Saint-Maur. The man, who reportedly mailed himself a gun from the U.S. that he then collected at a post office in Paris, wasn’t initially a suspect—authorities had thought he was in the U.S. at the time of the murders, until his true whereabouts were revealed by his sister, who’d been pressed into nanny duties for the former couple’s children while he was away.


Nanny State

Speaking of nannies, The Times reports that “Zoomsitters” like Danielle Manton-Kelly are “a growing breed” in the U.K.: on-screen child-care professionals easing the burden on parents who are unable to find any time for themselves to work, or simply stare into the middle distance for a few peaceful minutes. Manton-Kelly lives in Dorset, but her young charges might be in France, India, or Australia. Just place the child in front of the computer, and Bob’s your uncle: storytelling ensues, or alphabet-learning, or a painting lesson. Yes, business has boomed during the pandemic.

Throw the book at ’em …


Crooked House

Rare, irreplaceable antiquarian books from the Renaissance—by Galileo, Newton, Euripides, and Goya, among others—stolen more than three years ago from a warehouse near Heathrow Airport, have been found beneath the floorboards of a house in rural Romania. The books are intact, Scotland Yard announced, and 13 members of a Romanian organized-crime group have been charged, with 12 already having pleaded guilty. The volumes, which belong to three different book dealers, were taken during what was described as a “sophisticated” five-hour heist in January 2017. While it’s not yet clear whether any of the suspects had recently watched Topkapi, it is known that they cut holes in the warehouse roof, lowered themselves in, bagged the books, and left as they’d arrived, somehow avoiding sensors. The discovery and arrests followed an international manhunt involving the Metropolitan Police, the Romanian National Police, the Italian Carabinieri, Europol, and Eurojust. From the sound of things, the books might have stayed under those floorboards indefinitely. “They are of the hand press era, so each one is unique and readily identifiable,” Tim Bryars of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association told The Times of London. “They are printed and bound by hand, so it’s extremely difficult to feed those books back into the legitimate market.”

This place is buzzing …


Buggered Up

Qiyi City Forest Garden, China’s much-touted eco-friendly housing project, seemed to be off to a good start—all 826 units across the eight 30-story buildings, which were constructed in 2018, had sold out by this past April. But state media now reports that only 10 families have moved in. The problem seems to be mosquitoes. Apparently attracted by all the greenery, the insects have dropped whatever they were doing and drifted over to Chengdu. Rumors that a new, Hail Mary building project is being discussed for across the street—10 40-story buildings in the shape of mosquito-repelling pyrethrum coils—remain unconfirmed, and traceable to this sentence.

George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL