Crikey readers would be familiar with the story of my 106-year-old English grandfather, Philip Mayne, who used to pen columns for us reflecting on what it was like to have lived across three centuries.

Well, grandpa’s media profile has now extended beyond being the world’s
oldest columnist for Crikey – he’s just been written up in a Yorkshire paper which even suggested he could end up having a state funeral as the last surviving British officer from WWI.

Grandpa was pictured meeting with another Great War survivor and was quoted as follows:

The only thing I remember about the Army was it was bloody hard work and it was
the toughest few months of my life. I never reckoned I was anything to be talked
about. I only did my six months’ training and that was it.

Most
likely I would have been posted to France and I was not too keen because the
story then was that the life expectancy of a second lieutenant like me was three
months. So it was not very attractive.

And it turns out that Crikey may never have existed but for a bout of flu:

Mr Mayne was ready to serve at the front, but while still in Wales he was taken
ill and diagnosed as suffering from flu in the pandemic then sweeping the world.
Although not seriously affected his illness kept him out of the war until the
Armistice in November.

As Aunty Muriel told the paper:

There are three children, eight grandchildren and 20
great-grandchildren – in other words more than 30 people – who might not be here
now if it wasn’t for that flu.