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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Most eggs held in the hand: 10
This is the story behind my Guinness World Record™ for the Most eggs held in the hand.
You like eggs? So do I. I eat them, I crush eggshells in my hands for
fun, and I sprinkle eggshell pieces in my garden to deter snails. But I
also love to hold them; the feel of a smooth whole eggshell against my
skin is irresistibly soothing. No, I'm not besotted by eggs. But I do
have a tendency to be attracted to them.
Given this, and my love for world
record-breaking, I couldn't resist the idea of combining the two. I
needed to think up some world record that would allow me to get really
intimate with each egg. Throw them? No. Smash them with a cricket bat?
No, that's not what I'm into. Swallow them whole? Um, no. But I could
do just what I enjoy doing regularly: hold them close like precious
stones. Yes, that I'd do. In my kitchen I had a half dozen which I
began playing with as I daydreamed of the world record. Oops! Smash. I
bent down to clean up the yellow and transparent splatter. Little did I
know, that would be the first of many more broken eggs in my home.
The local shop assistant must have thought I had
opened an omelette cafe, I bought so many eggs. Box after box. Using my
sofa over which to practise, I hoped to minimise the breakages. But
there was one rule which was causing me to break the eggs: I had only a
few seconds to place all the qualifying eggs in one hand with the
other. The faster I tried to do this, the quicker I was at the shop
buying more cartons of eggs. To practice, I laid a selection of eggs on
the couch, all spaced apart slightly. I'd turn to one side to give me
greater access and movement with my elbow, then I'd reach out. In quick
succession I'd snatch one egg after the next, and place it where I
thought best in my hand. The trick was to move each egg from the couch
to above my hand very fast, then slowly and gently position it without
dislodging the other eggs. This was tough. My incentive to get it right
was that I was tired of repeatedly cleaning up egg yolk and egg white.
Until I got it right, I spent a fair bit of money on eggs, convincing
the shop's check-out worker that I had a new food business.
Practising was monotonous and very predictable:
I'd almost get it right, then I'd drop an egg which would bounce and
roll along the sofa until I caught it, and I'd have to start again. If
I was really unlucky, the whole cluster of eggs in my hand would break
away, like a rock slide. That's when eggs would crack, begin to leak or
simply smash when hitting the floor or my knee. With plenty of
practise, though, I slowly mastered a technique. As my confidence grew,
I began to enjoy the time I spent kneeling at my sofa until I injured
my hand. Then practising became a whole new undertaking.
Now, with a
bandage wrapped around my hand and
wrist - shaping it like a club, I found it all but impossible to
balance a single egg in my palm. This required ingenuity. I spent a
long time pondering the challenge from every angle I thought of. After
a great deal of in-depth thought, and with the bandage re-wrapped, I
could get several eggs to rest on the material comfortably. My injury
wasn't life-threatening, so I didn't care that I now wore the bandage
to suit my world record needs, not take care of the hurt. It'd heal
with time anyway, I was sure. So, club-handed but with my palm
flattened and my fingers rearranged through twists in the bandage, I
continued with my quest.
Before long, my chance came to show anyone and
everyone how many eggs I could hold. My injury had healed and the
bandage was off. Fantastic. My assistant and I set up the gear in a
parking lot outside a TV station. This was my first world record
appearance for television. Everything was so new to me. Staff ran
hither and thither, making sure the live crossover was going to work as
intended. All this activity was making me nervous, but I remained as
calm as possible because I didn't want the presenter to pick up on my
anxiety. But he knew. “How are you feeling Alastair?” he asked, while
ever so innocently nudging a microphone up to my chin. My insides were
knotted from my throat to the other end. “Fine, it's great to be here
and I can't wait to get stuck in” I fibbed, hiding my trembling hands.
A relayed message came through to the presenter.
The studio upstairs was waiting. When I heard that, I translated the
message as “we're ready to watch this monkey make a fool of himself for
the nation”. I almost suffered a prolapse, just quietly.
With shaking hands, I went to stand at the table
which had been prepared. I concentrated on my breathing so much, others
may have thought I was about to go into trance. But all I wanted was to
be able to control my unstable, sweaty hands. It took much focusing
although eventually they seemed to stop quivering as much. Amid a blur
of last-minute rushes, I reread the rules with the others involved. The
next thing, I looked up to see I was the centre of attention. Blood
drained from my face so fast, I was sure I was about to faint. I
swallowed hard; very slowly. The timekeeper approached and indicated
that she was about to count down. I sat, and waited like a trapped fawn
aware of its hunter.
Under pressure from the stopwatch, hand extended,
I did the best I could. It was all over before I could give it any
serious consideration. I could see my hand, as stable as an iron
bridge, supporting a handful of eggs. Not one rolled off and smashed on
the table or the plate. Having held the eggs in position for the
stipulated minimum time, I was able to relax my stance. The TV crew
repositioned their tripods, discussed matters amongst themselves and
began packing up metal carry cases. It was all over so quickly! A wave
of peace washed over me even though others were rushing around with as
much energy as before the shoot. I instinctively knew I had
successfully 'self-inducted' myself into appearing for television. I
could do it again.
Now, years later, that paralysing fear of TV cameras doesn't bother me. I'm accustomed to it, and so I'd better be – because I don't plan on retiring from world record-breaking any time soon.