“Guinness Book of Records”: how a judge’s work works
I recently set a record for one Briton - he wanted to become a champion in the number of squats on a pillow-pillow in 30 seconds. I stand with a stopwatch and carefully monitor everything that happens: an adult runs from one chair to another, tries hard, his face is the most serious, concentration is incredible, and this sound is in the background. I look at him, then at the stopwatch and think: “Is this really in reality?”
I have been working as a Guinness judge for two years. In 2012, I was in the organizing committee of the Olympic Games in London when the bell rang: "Hello, these are Guinness Records, we would like to invite you for an interview." I couldn’t believe my ears - like everyone else, since childhood I loved to leaf through this book, but I never imagined that they could have an office with a telephone. I rather imagined that this was some group of mysterious people sitting on a cloud and watching with interest what was happening on Earth. At the interview I was asked how I would organize a championship on standing on one leg. And how many people would you allow, and would limit the maximum standing time, and would disqualify the falling or give another chance - such were the questions.
The office, of course, was not on the cloud, but it turned out to be amazing anyway. Opposite my desktop in London, for example, is a portrait of the world's largest donkey - life-size. And on the very first working day, my colleagues put in front of me a bowl of flour and said: "Pretend as if you are building figures from flour." I don’t understand anything at all - I’m sitting and raging with mad eyes in this torment. They shot it on video and then uploaded the video to the network - in order to maintain the image of the fact that everything in Guinness is a little crazy.
Guinness records are handled by three departments: the department for writing rules for setting records, the department for fixing records, where I work, and the editorial department, which selects the most significant achievements for the annual book. About 20 judges are scattered around the world, Russian records go to me - because I'm the only one who knows the Russian language. I learned it by accident: at school I had to choose an additional subject, I wanted Italian, but at that time there was no teacher, so I had to take Russian.
Three types of clients set records. The first type is individuals who want to prove something to themselves, like that Briton with a pillow. The second is corporations that arrange team building sessions for their employees. Recently I was called to Germany, where insurance agency employees from Singapore flew in the day to build the world's largest water raft. The third type is small business, which wants the world to know about it. Two years ago, I recorded how an employee of a Spanish food store cuts jamon for 24 hours - and last year three branches were already opened at the store.
Records can be set for free and for money. In the first case, it is necessary to send us a video with the achievement and an eyewitness testimony, and within 12 weeks, without leaving the office, I will issue a verdict - did you set a record or not. There is another option for those who do not like to wait, and for those who need to have a Guinness spokesperson present in person. Pay 4500 euros, and I can go to you even the next day. Each judge leaves the fields 10-15 times a year, and the number of online applications for records is estimated in the thousands.
Nobody ever offered me a bribe, not even applicants from Russia. It happens, however, I myself want to judge a little. I remember in the UK a hot dog seller wanted to set a record for the number of hot dogs cooked per minute. To go down in history, he needed to make ten pieces. And he really cooked all ten, but I had to disqualify one hot dog - he was very untidy. The seller began to argue, but I said: "Agree, you would never have sold such a hot dog to your guest." He agreed, although he was very upset. And I, in truth, was also upset - he was very handsome and so counted on victory.
Each verdict we make on the basis of clear guidelines written by the department for inventing rules. From the latter, for example, they composed a guideline under the application “I want to make the largest origami swan”. Here's what happened: “Rule one - the swan must be made of one sheet of paper. Rule two - the swan must be folded with a witness. The third rule is that a swan should resemble a swan. ”
Until recently, we had an application from Russian women living somewhere on the border with Kazakhstan - they wanted to set a record for the smallest palace, cut from a bar of soap. But they had to refuse - we do not have "The smallest records." Each new record implies that someone wants to beat him. And if they start sending us very tiny palaces, we will not be able to determine the winner.
From Russia in general there are a lot of applications related to art. Last year, I set a record for a man from the Leningrad Region - he painted the largest multi-colored heart on snow. Before that, there was the largest image of a drop of water made up of people in blue t-shirts - from Vladivostok. Even earlier - the largest mosaic of wine corks, 154 square meters: two Russians living in Paris made up an image of two hundred eighty thousand corks. By the way, we chose this mosaic as the main achievement of 2014.
From other national patterns, I noticed that from Germany comes the most applications for records related to cars. America is very fond of setting group records - for example, recently they sent the largest bunch of people dressed in dog costumes from there. Almost all applications come from Russia online, but soon I will have my first trip to Moscow - there they will set a record in the number of curls that are twisted in 60 minutes. But in Ukraine I was in August last year. They set the record “The largest territory that can be covered with fertilizers in 24 hours” - one French agricultural company wanted to set a record, but they do not have such areas in their homeland, so we went to Ukraine.
As for individual individuals who set records, the reasons are very different and often very respectful. I remember one woman from Mexico, the record holder for the area of tattoos and the number of piercings on the body. Many laughed at her, but in a conversation with me she admitted that she had made all these tattoos in order to feel strong. As a child, she was constantly offended, and, changing her appearance, she wanted to distance herself from her past.
There was also a circus artist from Austria, a juggler with axes. He wanted to break the record for the number of rolls of the ball from one shoulder to another. It would seem such a trifle, but, breaking a record, he was terribly happy. I only found out later: he had a serious injury, for six months he did not get out of bed and decided that if he could set such a record, he would return to work. And I could.
But the greatest impression on me was made by an Englishman who wanted to break the record for diving with bungee. At that time, the record was 50 meters, and he decided to take 100 right away. He jumped from a bungee for the first time in his life, and then he was 73 years old. My wife stayed at home, she was so scared, but with him were 20 of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I admit, I was very nervous before the jump, although to remain completely calm is our duty. And grandfather did not even blink an eye: he just took it and jumped. We nearly died of fear while we waited for him to come up. And he crawled out of the water and said: "His head is spinning a little, but otherwise he never felt better."
We don’t have a lot of crazy people, but there are a lot of jokers. More often than not, people suggest fixing their largest collection of imaginary guitars in the world. It’s amazing how many people can think of the same joke, and such a stupid one. Among my friends, comedians are also missing. As we sit in the cafe, it begins: “Eva, look how I am folding the world's tallest tower of dominoes! Eva, look at my palace from sushi sticks! ”I usually answer:“ Guys, do you see me working uniforms? No? Fuck off that. ”
The material was first published on the Esquire.ru website.