Wednesday, April 21, 2004

"Faster, further, higher…. (and drunker) …"

Norris McWhirter, the ultimate facts and figures man died yesterday.

The original author of The Guinness Book of Records, Norris and his brother Ross took a vague enquiry from one of the Guinness family and developed it into the top selling, non religious publication in the world. It was a great concept, a book of trivia to help lift the drab, austere grey days of the mid fifties…..

I got one as a Christmas present in 1967 – and proceeded to read it from cover to cover. By Boxing Day I was boring everyone rigid … "Hey Dad, did you know that the biggest cheese ever made was"….

"No I bloody didn’t – and I don’t want to. Just sod off and eat your turkey butties"….

"Turkey? Did you know that the biggest turkey ever, produced 625 butties"…..

"Sod offfffffffff!"

Ever since then, I’ve always had an interest in the book. During my more vacant, looking down the end of a black velvet glass student times - we would often try to think of some so obscure activity to achieve a record. The more obscure, the easier to do, the easier to do, the more likely we are to get a record into the Book.

"How about ‘beer mat flipping’? Can’t be too difficult can it?"

Well, we had the pitch (the table), we had the ‘floppers’ (the beer mats) and we had the ‘flippers’ on the end of our arms.

In no time at all, the World Beer Mat Flipping Games were inaugurated. We had a ceremony to open them, this involved some more black velvets and a packet of crisps. We lit the sacred ‘flipping flame’ – this will remain lit as long as the games last – or as long as the upturned fag stays alight.


We start with 1 and build…..

We flipped and drank.
Drank and flipped.
Drunk and flopped…..

Pretty soon, the ‘10 mat’ barrier was smashed. Incredible!

A lap of honour is run – well more properly described as ‘staggered’….. stopping off at the bar for a refuel. This sporting life is certainly thirsty work. The tension was tense as the new World record was achieved at about 10 o’clock that night. Just how many was our new and ‘never to be beaten’ World record? Seventeen. Only Seven-bloody-teen, that’s all!

After that high water mark, lactic acid, diminishing hand eye co-ordination and ever increasing bog trips took its toll. Those heady heights were never again repeated. I went home.

The next day, I eagerly dug out my Guinness Book, so I could contact Norris and tell him of our incredible feat of incredibleness.

Just to make certain – and to bury the nagging doubt nagging away in the back of my mind, I decided to look in the great book to see if there was already a category for ‘beer mat flipping’ Not very likely, I know – but best make sure eh? I scan the index, hmmm -

‘banana’ – biggest, bendiest, most like a penis…
‘beard’ – longest, shortest, flanging - the art of, twirliest..
‘beer’ barfing, most pissed, mat flipping…..

"Mat flipping - blast!" See page 546… I find the page ‘Klaus Webber, a German student successfully defended his beer mat flipping title and set a new world record of 92 beer mats’….

NINETY TWO! – He must have hands like spades. How the hell do you get 92 beer mats in your hand for God’s sake? Dejected, the letter to Norris is consigned to the ‘bin of failure’.

We reconvene at Games HQ for a summit meeting. OK we need to find activities so obscure that not even know all Norris McWhirter has ever heard of them. We draw up a short list…

1) Furthest Gob.
2) Furthest Gob.(Into a gale force wind).
3) Highest wee up the bog wall.
4) Loudest Fart.
5) Quickest wee into a pint glass.
6) Furthest distance you can propel the contents of a packet of crisps by stamping on one end of it.
7) Most people in a pub bog cubicle………

Most of the night was filled with making the list, having a laugh and getting pissed.

Years later, I’m recounting this episode of my student days to a client of mine. "Did you ever do any of them?" he said

"No, of course not! After all, you’d have to be seriously mentally moronic to have a go at a Guinness record wouldn’t you?"

It was one of those seminal ‘foot in mouth’ moments. As soon as I’d said the words – I knew, I just knew he had attempted one. Did I say ‘one’ – well I was wrong, he had been in the book three times. Bloody hell, what a stud-muffin!

"Three times? Wow, what for?"

This man of men, this tenacious terrier then recounted his finest hours to me…

"Yes, the first time I was in was for ‘Endurance Monopoly Playing’ …. 105 hours none stop……

The second time was for ‘Endurance Squash Playing’ ….. 79 hours non stop"

I am truly humbled. I’m clutching at any straws I can grab. Is playing squash more demanding than beer mat flipping? Probably not….

"And the third time you were in?"..

"Well, 2 months after we set the Squash Endurance record, some git went and broke it – by putting another 6 hours on…

"So me and my mate decided to go for the record again, which we did – we put it up to 92 hours…. We tried to make the 100 hours, but we were just too knackered, you know how it is"…

Yes, I know how it is alright, he had his 100 hour non stop squash playing barrier, I had my 20 beer mat flipping barrier, both targets unattainable to 2 finely honed athletes……. Ah well, never mind, we gave it our best shots but it was just not meant to be. Cue the 'Chariots of Fire' music.....

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