Here at the Eagle, de Grey is consuming another liquid lunch. He says his more typical afternoon repast consists of "a couple Mars bars, crisps and sandwiches" (though one anagram of his name, he notes, is "Ready Beer Guy"). The de Grey diet does not seem ideal for a man who's planning on inhabiting his corporeal being for several millennia. But that's the beauty, I guess, of the bioengineering approach--no need for undue discipline or willpower to keep our bodies healthy, when the right cellular interventions can repair any insult.
The meal over, our band of four strikes out on a walking tour of the Cambridge campus: de Grey, Adelaide, myself, and Ben Zealley, a 19-year-old first-year biology student and de Grey protg who, with characteristic earnestness, is attempting to launch an undergraduate longevity society. We enter the courtyard of Trinity Hall, de Grey's alma mater, where an ancient guard inquires whether we have the proper ID. "Aubrey, he's asking you to justify your existence," Adelaide says. Our next stop, the Great Court of Trinity College, is even grander; it's where, in 1927, future Olympic hero David George Burghley made university history (and provided grist for the movie Chariots of Fire) by sprinting 400 yards around the cobblestoned rectangle before the last of the 24 chimes of the Trinity clock had sounded. By the time de Grey was a Cambridge undergrad in the early 1980s, standards had slackened a bit. "I was once induced to do the Great Court run at midnight, after a party, with no clothes on," he recalls. "I got more than two thirds of the way around, which wasn't too bad a showing. However, I did slip on some fairly nasty cobbles, and I got these massive black eyes, so for a while I was known as Aubrey Aubergine."