Meet my (Great) Uncle Fred.
Uncle Fred was born 100 years ago today. He had a birthday card from my mate the Queen to prove it. He's an amazing old man.
Fred has lived his entire life in the town I grew up in: Bromborough on the Wirral. Only it wasn't really that much of a town when Fred was born: he was brought up in a house with a mud floor, which apparently wasn't all that unusual.
Fred once told me about a young lad who went to the local grammar school many years ago. He was a bit of a trouble-maker, having a reputation for making people fall off their bicycles by shoving sticks through their spokes. The young lad's name was Harold Wilson. They always knew he'd turn into a bad 'un.
Fred also told me how he and a friend used to go fishing by placing calcium carbide from their carbide bicycle lamps into pop bottles. They would weigh the bottles down then throw them (uncorked) into local ponds. This would cause a small explosion which would stun the fish, which would then float to the surface.
During the Second World War, Fred was in the Home Guard. He spent many a night on guard duty in a bunker next to the first green at Bromborough Golf Course. It was from here that, one night, he saw German bombers flying over to bomb Liverpool.
Throughout his working life, Fred was a plumber. This gave him incredibly strong hands. When I was a kid, he would offer me his hand and let me try to crush it—which I never could, of course—then he would give me a gentle squeeze back, and I would recoil in agony.
We shook hands again today, and Fred gave my hand another gentle squeeze. It still hurt. I told him that I hoped I would make it to 100 one day. "It's not the years that are important; it's what you do with them," replied Fred.