took to world record-breaking in
2004 after being inspired by a record-setting rally
driver in Kenya. What began as a hobby soon escalated
into an active publicity pursuit. Today, he promotes the
work of social and environmental causes. For these
purposes, the most fitting game plans are chosen; then
world titles are attempted and frequently created.
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Furthest champagne cork spit: 5 metres
This is the story behind my Guinness World Record™ for the Furthest champagne cork spit.
“No! No, don't throw that champagne cork away.
It's too important. You may have finished with it, since all you want
is the wine in the bottle, but I don't care for wine right now. I want
that cork, and you won't be left to sip your drink in peace until I get
it” is something I clearly remember shouting out at a social event.
Voices dropped and I received the cork, but also many unappreciative
glances. I wasn't bothered. Let them flail in their own drunkenness
while I aspire to greatness, were my thoughts.
The first thing I did with the perfectly moulded
cork was sniff it. Wonderful! The next test was to suck it gently, like
a human baby seeking its vitality from a plastic milk bottle. Yes, I
murmured to myself, this could be good. After all, the aroma and the
taste were highly appealing. In fact, the cork was so flavoursome, I
kept sucking until the host stared at me with fire in her eyes.
Sheepishly, I turned, hunched my back as if to hide, and slipped out of
Those last few seconds hadn't been pleasant. But
that was all about to change. Oh yes. Me and my cork were about to have
a party of our own! I clutched the little item in my fist, as if to
welcome it to my world, one in which it'd be repeatedly smothered in
saliva and spat until it lost all sense of direction. I bet the cork
thought this was a wonderful plan; I certainly did. Down at the other
end of the house, the atmosphere was relaxed. The cork seemed to be
begging me to insert it in my mouth as though it was vital for my
health. I was becoming hyperactive with expectation. Yes, yes, yes - a
cork all to myself; I wiggled my buttocks vigorously with utter
delight. I don't mean to sound strange, but I was already having a
better time than with the social bunch down the opposite end of the
building. They'd be jealous if only they knew, I felt.
I formed my lips into a ring and rotated my
tongue along them a dozen times. Then, concerned that they weren't yet
satisfactorily moist, I repeated this. Tilting my head back seemed to
help the saliva coat every square millimetre of my lips, giving me
extra confidence. With a lot of concentration, I wiped my tongue as far
up my cheeks as I could, all to ensure the cork would slide out of my
mouth effortlessly. When I was sure the cork couldn't expect a more
lubricated flight, I brought my head forwards and. Two of the visiting
women burst into laughter; they'd been watching me in silence. I
couldn't help myself and the next thing we were all giggling. Once we'd
calmed down, I reminded them that they weren't welcome, and rushed them
both back to their wine-comforted friends. On my own once more, I wet
my lips all over again with extreme care.
As if performing a scientific manoeuvre, I
inserted the cork, then squeezed my lips just enough to steady it. The
cork, I hoped, was facing straight ahead, like a missile awaiting
launch. Flaring my nostrils like a Gelada baboon, I inhaled deeply.
Holding my breath, I steadied myself by resting my torso on one arm
which I'd put over my knee. Before I counted down, I wanted to see
where the projectile would fly, but with a distended mouth full of air,
tilted head and eyes wide open, I couldn't see. What did it matter?
With all the force my chest could muster, I spat the cork... and a
plentiful spray of saliva, across the carpet. Droplets sprinkled the
window pane, the armchair alongside me and probably a lot more
vaporised in the path of the cork.
But it was the cork which I was interested in. I
dashed forward, one measured pace at a time. Amazing! The distance I
could spit this thing was impressive, even if I say so. When I picked
it up, it had acquired an instant fur of whatever one finds on a carpet
in need of a thorough vacuum. I wrinkled my nose at first seeing it,
but then thought it was worth swallowing if it'd mean yet another world
record. A second later, the cork was in my mouth. To stop myself from
dribbling down my shirt, I began sucking, much like an infant. I
suppose I was ingesting more than just wine-flavoured saliva.
Much of my afternoon was spent with the cork,
and, odd as it may sound, the cork and I were developing a close
relationship. I rolled it in my mouth and spat it many times; it flew
through the air and collected dust just as many times. It seemed I'd
found a great friend. Eventually – but only after quite some time, I
got tired of that game and went to rejoin the others, who, by this
stage, would have enjoyed plenty of wine, I thought. Yes, I was right.
It was silent when I opened the door to the gathering's room. They were
asleep, on the large spreading chairs. Well, I'd literally missed the
party. So, with nothing else to do, I devoted even more time to my
When I was questioned, I explained in explicit
detail what I'd done with the cork. People were humoured. I was loving
the attention. Someone jokingly called me a 'mad corky' but I misheard
and asked what a 'cork head' was. Everyone must have overheard that. It
was to be my fate. From then on, the words stuck and I'd mistakenly
labelled myself with two new nicknames. What a tough life.
So, I, mad corky, continued playing with corks
for weeks to come. I assembled quite a collection, sucking, spitting
and feeling each to ascertain its suitability for my next world record
attempt. By then, those who saw this behaviour had become used to it,
so my cork-grabbing habit had become routine. I evaluated each, and
chose what I thought was the perfect aerodynamic cork. It tasted very
fine, I don't mind adding. Knowing it was a good quality, expensive
wine cork made me even more confident it would bring me success. I
became proud of my cork, laying it on my bedside table every evening so
I could wish it a pleasant night's sleep with me. Somehow, I was under
the impression that the cork thought there was potential for a love
relationship to develop, given enough time. But, in my life, world
records come before love, so the cork wouldn't have a chance, no matter
how appealing it thought it was to me. But I was happy to play with it!
And so the days passed until the most important
day came for the cork. I imagined that if this cork ever returned to
the land of pre-inserted wine corks, it'd be famous. Even before I had
attempted my world record, this cork would have screeds of tales to
share about its brief life as a spitting fascination. But I knew that
wouldn't happen, and it saddened me that the poor little cork would
never get its own opportunity to claim fame among other corks. The best
I could do was spit it further than it had ever been propelled to make
sure I secure the world title. But that was going to be a lot more
difficult than I had planned.
I arrived at an event at which the public was
invited to attempt world records of various sorts. In my bag was the
cork, which I was guarding like a girlfriend. The rules stated that I
needed to spit it on a level surface, and the allocated area happened
to be outdoors. To my disbelief, a light breeze began at the same time
that my own helpers, and additional helpers, came to prepare for this
event. An announcement was made to everybody present, and several
spectators circled the location. Because this event was managed on a
schedule, I had to make this attempt at the planned time. I was not
happy with nature at that moment. There was no alternative.
My assistants set everything up, but also had to
find a way of curbing the breeze which was then increasing in strength.
If I spat the cork away from the wind, I knew that would give a falsely
advantaged measurement, and the world record attempt might fail.
Because the sand pit was rectangular, my only option was to spit into
the wind. Resigning myself to this, I worked with the helpers to erect
a temporary barrier made of the only thing we could find: a length of
mesh netting. It didn't do much good, but I hoped it would reduce the
wind speed even fractionally.
Standing behind the marked line, I breathed in
and out many times to increase my lung capacity. When I felt that my
upper chest was sufficiently flexed, into my mouth went the cork, and
through my expanded nostrils I inhaled slowly. Once again, looking like
that baboon I'd been when practising, I concentrated with all my mental
energy. The next thing, the cork came hurtling out of my mouth,
shedding blobs of saliva as it shot into the head-on wind. The dull
“puh” sound produced by the cork's exit aroused interest from those
watching, and many were smiling as I turned to see their reaction to my
first public cork spit.
The cork had disappointed me. It had fallen
embarrassingly close to my feet; within a giant step of my leading
foot. I wasn't pleased. The helpers pointed out the exact landing spot
and marked it. I tried again. This time, the cork landed further ahead,
but I still was not satisfied. The breeze was now becoming a noticeable
wind. Biting my jaw in mild irritation, I vowed to triumph over this
challenge. I would make sure I spat this cork a reasonable distance, no
matter how strenuous it proved to be on my lungs. With determination
welling up inside me, I snatched the sand-coated cork, wiped it on my
shirt briefly and put it back on its launching pad, my tongue.
My resolution to succeed kept the helpers and I
busy for a lot longer than we'd anticipated. We all had to move along
to other events of the day, but I continually asked them to stay with
me. I spat, and I spat, and I spat. It became rather repetitive, and
the results were nothing impressive. And then! We must have timed
things well because, during a break in the wind, I spat that cork and
it seemed to want to demonstrate its flight capabilities to me. It went
the furthest we had seen it go that day. Joy. When we measured the
distance, I was satisfied and the admin was seen to shortly afterwards.
That world record attempt took a lot of spitting, but I was adamant I
could do it. From the tape measure's reading, it seemed I'd succeeded.
My telephone rang. Media. I was live on radio,
and the presenter wanted to know all about it. Then the next call and
the next. It seemed that radio presenters found cork-spitting an
entertaining piece of news trivia – especially when I elaborated on the
taste and feel of a discarded wine bottle cork. The interviews came in
fast for the next few hours. At one point, I wished these radio hosts
would leave me alone so I could get on with my next world record
attempt. But I generally love being on radio, so I answered each call
with my usual excessive enthusiasm.
Within days, news had spread around the globe and
my world record attempt was appearing on entertainment news websites of
large international radio broadcasters. I was enjoying the attention.
The calls I got were all from very inquisitive radio station staff,
keen to inform their listeners of my latest superfluous antic. I played
along and encouraged their humour. That's a great feeling, I always