Tall stories you love to hate

Click to follow
The Independent Online
TODAY I am making an attempt to get into The Guinness Book of Records by writing a column with more useless information and improbable superlatives than any other newspaper column or, perhaps, The Guinness Book of Records itself. I hope you will bear with me.

Largest Tea Bag. The largest tea bag ever made measured 14 feet by 10 feet. It was manufactured especially for a Women's Institute jamboree in 1983 and was made from more than 100 muslin bags sewn together. The tea bag provided about 12,000 cups of tea.

Sneezing Record. The longest recorded interval between sneezes is 92 years. Ebenezer Proudfoot (1848-1940) sneezed shortly after birth but was not known to sneeze again until the age of 92, when he caught a cold, had a sneezing fit and died. The doctors concluded that his body, quite unused to sneezing, was not ready for the strain.

Dirty Car Floor. The most dead matches ever found on the floor of a Ford Escort during routine car cleaning was 176.

Toy-train Accidents. The most accident-prone train is thought to be a model of the Duchess of Hamilton, which came off the line at the same curve four times a day for more than nine years in a house in High Wycombe. This baffling mishap was later traced to a bumpy floorboard.

Underwhelming Monument. The most disappointing great monument in the world is generally considered to be the Acropolis. More than 90 per cent of first-time visitors go away thinking that it looks unfinished.

Knots. The most knots ever tied in one piece of string is 1,487, done in 1980 by Leicester Prison inmates. It took seven hours to tie the knots and nearly a week to count them.

Genuine Gorillagram. The most genuine gorillagram ever delivered was to Mr Purkis of Frome Villas, Weston-super-Mare, as it was delivered by a real gorilla, though it took half an hour to persuade it to hand the message over.

Unfinished Book. The book most often abandoned half-way through is Ulysses by James Joyce. Library surveys show that the pages in the first half of the book are generally dog-eared and soiled, while the second half is virtually untouched.

Mysterious Cereal. Of all the common breakfast cereals, the most mysterious is probably cornflakes, as more than 90 per cent of its regular consumers do not know what it is made from, and nearly 100 per cent cannot explain why it goes soggy on contact with milk. (Compare this with Johnson's Baby Powder, 98 per cent of whose users do not know what it is made from, and 3 per cent of whom think that it is a kind of contraceptive.)

Most Baffling Thriller. The most insoluble thriller ever written was Agatha Christie's original The Teddy Bear Murders, in which Hercule Poirot named as the murderer a suspect who had not been previously mentioned in the book. When the printing error was realised, the volume was withdrawn. But it was never reissued with the correct solution as Miss Christie could not remember who had done it, and did not think that any of the remaining characters seemed likely suspects.

The Latest Train. The train that took the longest to arrive is thought to be the 09.47 from Leeds to Lincoln which set out on time on 18 July 1897 and arrived at Manchester by mistake, though on time. The service was due to be withdrawn the following day, so the train has still not arrived.

Least Interesting Record. The most boring entry in any book of records or dictionary of superlatives is the statistic concerning attempts to eat quantities of hard-boiled eggs. It is closely followed by figures on attempts to stack record amounts of household crockery.

Unexpected Name Change. The most unexpected recorded name change happened to Jeremy Bucket of Wolverhampton, who wanted to change his name by deed poll to Jeremy Burgess. However, owing to a clerical error, he found he had changed his name to Jeremy Deed Poll. (He decided to keep the name because he liked it.)

Most Deserted Village. There are many deserted villages in England, but Dinham Beaumont in Cambridgeshire is believed to be unique in that it has always been deserted. Historians now believe that it was built as a deserted village by a medieval baron, in order to deceive later archaeologists.