This national obsession with record-breaking seems a little desperate. Despite Mr Smith's efforts, England lost not just the match but the series. Ms Stephens had been beaten to the top by 16 other women. But we have become an achievement-orientated society, in which even schools and hospitals compete to head league tables. Even if we were the 100th country to get our first woman up Everest, we would not keep quiet about it.
The Guinness Book of Records suggests that the United States holds most of the world's records: longest in an iron lung and largest gall bladder, for example. We, though, have the largest gallstone as well as the largest number of gallstones, showing that we can still compete. Last week, British sextuplets were born. Alas, Australia once managed nonuplets. But the papers soon found the angle: the parents were not married or even cohabiting. Surely another British first.Reuse content