Come on, Cyril! Fredie’s turning 116 and all he wants is his cigs

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Come on, Cyril! Fredie’s turning 116 and all he wants is his cigs

He’s possibly the world’s oldest man, but his birthday on Friday will be a glum affair without his beloved tobacco

Journalist
Fredie Blom, from Delft, near Cape Town, turns 116 years old on Friday. Here, he celebrates his birthday in 2019.
WORLD'S OLDEST MAN? Fredie Blom, from Delft, near Cape Town, turns 116 years old on Friday. Here, he celebrates his birthday in 2019.

All Fredie Blom wants for his 116th birthday on Friday is something he cannot get under lockdown: tobacco.

A tall man with a smokey-grey beard below his mask, Blom could be the oldest man alive, despite “smoking like a chimney” all his life, according to his wife, Janneta.

“He is stressed about having no more tobacco. He used to roll his own with newspaper. That was his hobby,” she said. “Nothing can comfort him now.

“He likes to be independent and he is getting frustrated,” said the 86-year-old in their living room in Delft, on the outskirts of Cape Town.

No doubt Blom is exceptionally old. His identity document shows he was born on May 8 1904, but he does not seem frail.

Two weeks ago, he was chopping wood from a fallen tree.

“The wind was so strong that a tree fell down and he was chopping it up. He can spend hours making fires,” Janneta said.

Walking to the corner of the lounge with a cane, Blom leans back in an armchair, listening to what he can hear of the conversation with hooded but alert eyes, for which he has never needed glasses. His hearing has faded, however.

The Guinness Book of Records is reportedly verifying Fredie Blom’s age.
WORLD RECORD? The Guinness Book of Records is reportedly verifying Fredie Blom’s age.

Asked if he remembers the Spanish Flu, he replies in Afrikaans that his sister died in the pandemic, which claimed an estimated 50 million lives.

Blom worked in construction and it appears manual labour may have contributed to his longevity, along with walking and cycling long distances to work — and dancing.

“Fredie was a good dancer in a jazz band,” said Janneta. “He had the moves. We met at a dance at a house party. I can’t say who fell for who.” The couple has been married for 46 years.

Fredie Blom and his wife, Janneta, this week.
UNAFRAID Fredie Blom and his wife, Janneta, this week.
Image: Esa Alexander

Her first husband died young and Fredie wholeheartedly accepted her two children and grandchildren, she said. “He is a good man. He looked after them as his own.”

Among his favourite meals are sheep heads and chicken.

On Friday, Blom is expected to have a “birthday drive-by” to celebrate his milestone.

The “official” oldest living man in the world is 112-year-old Bob Weighton from the UK. The Guinness Book of Records is reportedly verifying Blom’s age.

“If we die in lockdown, it could be of old age, not coronavirus. We are not scared,” said Janneta.