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A man’s real possession

By Tom Chatfield  

“Memory,” the poet Alexander Smith wrote in 1863, is “a man’s real possession… In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor.” The title of the particular essay this comes from is “Death and Dying,” and memory certainly can be a sobering topic. Even in 2007, for all the wonders of technology, it remains an absolute limit: the history that living eyes have seen creeps behind us, reaching back only a century or fractionally more. The title of world’s oldest human has, since 13th August 2007, been held by 114-year-old Edna Parker of Indiana, born on 20th…

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