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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Most toothpicks rotated in the mouth simultaneously: 43
This is the story behind my Guinness World Record™ for the Most toothpicks rotated in the mouth simultaneously.
When I first did this some years ago, my intention was to
beat someone who was pleased he could do it. "I know I can beat him", I thought,
and went about planning. I succeeded and then tried it again.
This time I knew it would be a challenge, not least of all because getting a misaligned toothpick stuck in my throat would be a potential choker. In fact, I was more worried about not being able to breathe due to a swelling open wound in my throat than I was about not getting this world record. And that's unusual for me!
I also know people don't generally like watching someone dribbling one spoonful after the next of saliva onto a table in front of them, and that's precisely what was about to happen. So, with my witnesses present, I explained that there might be a few odd moments. They understood and we all read over the rules together.
Once I was satisfied that we all were clear on what to do, I sat down with my pack of toothpicks, coloured one of all their ends so that it would be easy to see if I'd spun the lot together, and announced that I was ready to start. My witnesses sat nearby and waited. One of them had never witnessed a world record attempt before, so to her, this was quite something to watch.
I aligned all 43 picks and inserted them into my mouth carefully. Closing my lips tightly, I began to revolve the bunch, feeling their sharp ends digging into the thin skin on the insides of my cheeks. It really hurt. But I kept pushing the bundle, millimeter by millimeter, hoping they'd all stay together. If one pick turned in the wrong direction or got stuck on a tooth edge, it could lodge itself in a painful position. That thought scared me.
Even though I was frightened at the thought of hurting myself, I was still able to think about other things. One subject I did think about for a few moments as I played with my tongue was the timber industry. That's where the toothpicks come from, but so does pulp, toilet paper, printing paper, mine tunnel supports, many door and roof frames, a lot of furniture and so much more. If people want wood products to be around for much longer, I remember thinking, we'd better work out a way of using timber wisely. That way, everyone can have wood and I'll have toothpicks to play around with!
I pushed and pulled the bundle of picks with the tip of my tongue, and could feel my salivary glands expelling a great deal of saliva. According to the rules, I had to keep my mouth closed but the saliva was building up fast. So I opened my mouth just a fraction and pushed runny blobs of saliva out. Pools of bubbly saliva formed on the table but I ignored them. I just wanted to get this over with.
On my first attempt, I got into trouble. The pack of toothpicks got into such an awkward position that I was left with no option but to open my mouth and force them loose with my fingers. But that also invalidated the attempt and I had to start again.
The next time, I managed to spin all picks all the way with a closed mouth. I was so pleased when the time arrived for me to open my jaws wide and let them all fall out into a bowl placed beneath my chin. Lots of saliva drained out of my mouth too, along with a little blood. But that was alright with me, because I thought I'd done it.
My witnesses and I carefully and slowly counted the toothpicks – which were dripping in thick saliva - before they confirmed for the video that I had indeed turned all 43 without losing control of any. I felt good as I packaged up the evidence and prepared to mail it off to the judges.
Several months later, I had a reply: I'd been successful. Oh my, did it feel good!