Every year on World Book Day children around the globe dress up as their favourite characters. But what to wear when all your classmates are dressing as Harry Potter and you are the muggliest of the muggles?
Alasdair faced that dilemma and decided to go to school dressed as a figure featured in his favourite book, the Guinness World Records annual. Was it the world’s tallest man Sultan Kosen? Lucky Rich the most tattooed person? Was it owner of the longest moustache EVER, Ram Singh Chauhan?
Instead of going to school dressed as a record holder, Alasdair decided to go dressed as another person to grace Guinness World Records pages.
I am Mark McKinley and I am an adjudicator for Guinness World Records. On 7 March this year I found myself partaking in my standard morning routine of having a cup of tea and googling myself when I stumbled across something quite unexpected. A picture of a young man who looked uncannily familiar. He was kit out in a fashionable navy blazer and grey trouser combo, his face adorned with spectacles and a beard that belied his years and he wore a facial expression that said "I know the rules and you’re not breaking them on my watch". He was dressed as me.
It is a strange feeling to have someone dress as you. It is overwhelming and humbling while also being a massive inflation to your ego. Having shared the images of this costume around the GWR HQ it was decided that Alasdair should be invited into our offices as a thank you for his ongoing love for the book and excellent taste in fancy dress.
Two months later Alasdair and his parents visited us in London for a day of adjudication training and record breaking fun. He spent the entire day at the office wearing his makeshift uniform and papier-mâché beard (made by his mother in a method that involved her son laying very still for a considerable amount of time). Seeing the double takes from members of staff as they walked past this mini-Mark walking around the office was a true joy.
The aim was to get him ready to adjudicate our specially invited guest, Martin Rees. Martin is a magician and was present to attempt the most magic tricks performed blindfolded in one minute. It was down to us to adjudicate his attempt.
In preparation for the adjudication we tested Alasdair’s abilities with the tools of the trade. The measuring tape, clicker and, most importantly of all, the stopwatch. While Alasdair handled the clicker and tape well it was with the stopwatch that he truly excelled. I have never seen someone manage to get a stopwatch to stop on exactly one second as infuriatingly frequently as he could. I was informed that his dexterity is down to many hours spent in the company of Minecraft and Fortnite. I am now saving for a console of my own…
When it came to the adjudication itself, Alasdair was impressed by the tricks taking place but managed to maintain the steely demeanour and poker face required of an adjudicator. The main difficulty with a record like this one is being able to keep on top of the counting process when everything is happening so quickly. This is not a job that only one adjudicator can achieve so his help in reviewing this attempt was invaluable.
Adjudicating Dwayne Johnson at a movie premiere in Leicester Square has been the highlight of my time with Guinness World Records since 2015 but Alasdair's visit knocked The Rock off top spot.
When he first arrived at the office Alasdair seemed shy and quiet. By the end of the day we had seen a transformation. His confidence had notably grown and he was embracing the tasks being set before him. Being the centre of attention can be a bit overwhelming but he carried it off with aplomb. Since the release of the video showcasing his day that has grown with his family and friends reveling in his newfound fame.
At the end of the day Alasdair had decided that, given the choice, he would rather be a magician than an adjudicator when he grows up so it appears my job is safe…
At least until World Book Day 2020…