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.
Wall Street Journal:
Shaking On It in Times Square
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Behind every world record attempt is the expertise of professionals in their field.
Their success underpins Alastair's.
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Furthest coin flick: 9.03 metres
This is the story behind my Guinness World Record™ for the Furthest coin flick.
My fingers have a problem. They love flicking
things. Yes, I'm that type of man who can't sit still if there's an ant
or a fly around: I've got to flick it off gently. On a more antisocial
level, I'd be the one to scrunch up a till receipt and flick it into
the crowd to see if I can escape without being caught. That's me,
everyone. So does it surprise you that I was attracted to the idea of
flicking a coin further than anyone else alive?
To prepare for practising, all I had to do was
open my wallet. I picked out a coin and strolled outside. Placing the
coin in a position on my fingertip which allowed me to balance it, I
pulled all my hand muscles - or so it felt – and then let go with great
expectation. Spinning, the coin shot forward, upwards and across the
lawn. Pleased with my first effort, I went to find it so I could
measure the distance. That would give me a good idea of whether I stood
any chance of getting a decent world record. No such luck. The coin had
vanished into the grass. I scratched and scratched but found nothing
other than beetle carcasses and dead grass stalks.
Not to worry, I thought, since next I'd change a
bank note for a heap of coins. On the next sunny day, I was in my
garden once more, literally throwing away all the money in my pocket.
But do you think I was worried? Not at all, since tossing away a little
of my financial wealth might bring me greater world record wealth. That
to me was a very fine trade. I kept flicking money into the grass, and
I kept not being able to find it. Tough, I thought, because that's the
price I'm going to pay.
For weeks, I flicked
coins. Its probably the most
intimate I can say I've ever got with heaps of cash. Eventually I was
ready to call my team. In the yard, I positioned these people
strategically. When I say 'strategically', I mean for the purposes of
the all-important task of having to succeed at a flicking world record.
Some of them laughed, finding this a little pedantic. But not me! I
treated each individual with military-style rigidity because my next
world record could have been at stake. They obeyed and I was glad
because all I was keen to do was get flicking.
With everyone watching, I placed the first coin
on my finger, then strained my hand muscles and even the odd forearm
muscle which wanted to join in. Just when the acid build-up was
beginning to sting, I released my thumb and the coin sped forward.
Actually, it didn't. I wanted it to, but the coin, somehow, fell off my
finger lazily and hit my toes. After all that preparation! I looked
from witness to witness, pursing my lips to guard myself against
embarrassment. “Where did it go?” they asked out loud, at which I had
to reply the coin hadn't gone one inch.
We all hoped for a better result the second time.
Alas, something similar happened. Not letting myself get despondent, I
pulled another coin from my pocket and steadied it in position. This
one, I was convincing myself as I stood motionless, was going to travel
so far we'd never find it. Disappointingly, the outcome was quite
different. However, I was pleased and we measured it. That took almost
a quarter of an hour, though, because first we had to search – hobbled
over like a family of hunchbacks wandering in ever-decreasing circles –
for the stray coin. Then one of the witnesses found it and we marked
the spot straight away. I flicked more coins but none went as far. So
that was to be the decisive mark, it was agreed.
From my bag I pulled all the paperwork I needed
to complete the admin, and we'd finished for the day within the next
hour. I was grateful to my witnesses that they'd given up time for what
one of them called a ridiculous event. If they had been my child, I'd
have disciplined them for saying such a dreadful thing! But everyone
left in good humour, especially me. Surely you know that by now –
anything to do with a world record gets my pulse racing and my mind
swimming with hopeful ideas.