Gypsy heat

LAST UPDATED: 16 Dec, 2007 @ 08:25
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Spain’s oldest woman – a gypsy – has gone without heating all her life

WHO needs central heating? Spain’s oldest woman Maria Diaz Cortes – aged 115 – has lived without it all her life.

Living in a shanty town on the outskirts of Seville, she is now refusing to move to an Old People’s Home, with all the mod cons.

Maria, who lives in a shack in the rough area of El Vacie, to the north of the city, is well looked after by her family including youngest daughter, aged 72.

“It is out of the question to move,” her daughter Dolores explained. “She would rather live under a bridge than in a home. Gypsies don’t have that culture of putting their relatives in homes.”

The town hall is now studying a plan to move the whole family into a council house in the city instead.

Maria was born in Granada in 1892 and is thought to be the oldest person in Spain, if not Europe.

The previous oldest was Jeanne Calment, who died in France at 122 in 1997.

A new report has just been issued that shows that the average life expectancy for Spaniards has risen to over 80 years.

The average for women is 83.5 years – just pipped by France – while men reach 79.96.

The figure has risen by four years since 2001 when the average was 79.44.

In the UK men only make it to 77.08 and women to 81.12 years.

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