We were invited to a birthday party in Half Term. A very special birthday party. A 60th birthday party. The sixtieth birthday party of the Guinness World Records Book.
I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough when the invitation arrived, I can tell you!
I have very fond memories of the Guinness Book of World Records from my childhood. It was a Christmas present on several different occasions, and I remember really enjoying dipping into it to find interesting, unusual or just plain weird records to read about. I was also an avid watcher of “Record Breakers” on the television, and still know most of the words to the closing song.
Dedication, dedication, dedication, that’s what you need…
I hadn’t introduced my kids to the Guinness Book of Records, or Guinness World Records Book as it seems to be called now, before we received this invitation. The geekdaughter still hasn’t reached the level of ability or interest in reading where she’s dipping into books for fun, and so it had just never been on my radar. The Guinness World Records team sent us a copy of the 2015 edition, and the kids and I had a quick look through before the event – I hoped that would give them a feel for what was in store. It’s still packed full of records, as it always was, but this edition also comes with augmented reality – if you download the free smartphone app there are a few pages where you can see the records come to life before your eyes. The kids enjoyed seeing what it was like to stand next to the world’s tallest man, but were less than impressed with seeing the world’s most venomous spider climb out of the book!
When the day arrived we all set off down to London – the party was being held in the Guinness World Records Head Office no less! There was a large group of bloggers, including some of my favourites who I don’t get to see anywhere near often enough.
The party kicked off with us being told some interesting facts about the Guinness World Records Book. The first edition was published in 1955, and it was intended to stop once and for all all the arguments in pubs and at dinner parties about which bird was fastest or which mountain was highest. I think it’s succeeded in doing that, hasn’t it? I particularly enjoyed learning which records haven’t been broken in the 60 years of the books existance – Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” is still the best-selling single ever, just as it was in 1955. And Gone With The Wind is still the highest grossing movie ever (when you adjust for inflation). And the Pentagon is still the world’s largest office building. But then on the flip side there are some records which have changed incredibly. The most expensive bottle of wine in 1955 was £8, whereas the record today is £75,000! And in 1955 the world’s most expensive footballer was Hans Jeppson at £60,375 (that’s the equivalent of £1.51M in today’s money), whereas the record today is held by Gareth Bale at £85.3M. Yikes!
After the introduction we got to meet some real life record breakers. My day was made by seeing the man who holds the record for the world’s loudest burp (109.9 decibels, if you were wondering) in action. I have a bit of a reputation for being a bit of a burper, but I tell you I am nothing compared to him! You can see him in action in the video below:
We then got to see the man who holds the record for the most “bunny hops” on a bike demonstrate his skills by jumping his bike over our host a few times. And finally there was the chance to meet the man who programmed the robot that holds the record for the fastest solving of a Rubik’s cube – the geekdaddy was in his element here and spent a lot of the afternoon chatting to him!
After this we had the chance to attempt to break a world record ourselves. We each had the chance to have a go at three different activities, with the people getting the fastest times in practice then having the chance to then make a proper record attempt with an official adjudicator (suit and clipboard and everything!) present. My kids had great fun trying the “most jelly moved with a teaspoon in one minute” record, but didn’t get anywhere close to the required amount. The geekdaddy tested his parcel wrapping skills trying for the fastest time to gift wrap a Guinness Book of World Records, but wasn’t fast enough. We discovered though that I have a bit of a talent for bursting balloons by sitting on them, and I ended up as part of the team trying for the “fastest time for a team of 6 to burst 10 balloons by sitting on them” record. We managed 21 seconds in practice, but our official attempt was slower and we recorded 24 seconds – the world record is 19!
(After the event the geekdaddy confessed to me that he was quite glad that we hadn’t broken the record because it was only afterwards he realised that he had videoed the whole attempt in portrait rather than landscape!)
After this it was time for cake, and the singing of “Happy Birthday” to Guinness World Records.
But the fun didn’t end there, because on the way out we got to meet another two record breakers. The world’s smallest caravan (yes, it’s being pulled by a mobility scooter!)…
… and the world’s fastest shopping trolley. Yes, it’s rocket powered. It does 45 miles per hour apparently:
All too soon the party was over and we had to head home. Thank you Guinness World Records for an amazing day out. We all had a lovely time.
Disclosure: We received a free copy of the Guinness World Records Book, 2015 edition. Guinness World Records paid our travel costs for this event, and gave the kids a lovely goodie bag at the end of it. I am writing about it because we had fun, and all words and opinions are my own.