Five Great British World Records

2012 is the year in which the Olympics come to London, and naturally, as with any major sporting event, talk has already turned to the world records which could be broken. The fastest run, the longest throw, the biggest hop, that kind of thing. But I say this, why do we have to wait four years to break records? Why should we concern ourselves with these oversubscribed, over-hyped championships when the real work is taking place every day of the week, out there, on the streets?

OK, so maybe not on the streets, but here are five world records that the British currently hold. Don’t ask me why, we just do.

THE WORLD’S SMALLEST COW

This is Swallow, a Dexter cow from Cheshire who is only 33 inches tall. Incredibly, she’s had 11 calves of her own, and actually acts as a kind of matriarch for her herd. Caroline Ryder, her owner, told BBC News: “She is really sweet – an asset to the herd. For a small cow with short legs she can’t half move fast.”

You can go ahead and make your own female sprinter joke here. I’m far too polite.

THE WORLD’S FASTEST VIOLINIST

Never mind all that stuff about emotion and capturing the human heart, we all know that music is all about velocity. There isn’t a tune in the world that can’t be improved by playing it at twice the speed, just ask Slayer, those kings of melody. So when the British violinist Oliver Lewis appeared on the BBC TV show Blue Peter, claiming to be able to play the already-nifty Flight of the Bumblebee at record-breaking speed, well we all applauded.

See? Doesn’t that gladden the soul?  The gauntlet has been thrown down, Mr Malmsteen.

THE WORLD’S FASTEST TEXTER

Melissa Thompson, when asked to text the phrase “the razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human” managed it in just 25.94 seconds, beating the then world record by over nine seconds.

When asked to explain her astonishing feat of digital (meaning fingers) dexterity, she put it down to speed-texting her boyfriend 40 times a day. But presumably not to tell him about piranhas.

THE WORLD’S LOUDEST BELCH

Meet Paul Hunn. He’s the current holder of the world record for belching, something he actually trains for. On purpose. Look:

110dB. ONE HUNDRED and TEN DECIBELS! Sadly there is no record of the volume at which he bellows “PARDON ME!”

THE WORLD’S BIGGEST SMURF COLLECTOR

I can’t help but feel that being a smurf collector is not an admirable thing to be. It just sounds sordid, somehow, especially as the smurfs themselves tend to use their own collective name as a substitute for swearing.

“Toby, what did the police want?”
“Oh they think I’m…(sobs)… they think I’m a smurf collector…”
“Oh TOBY, NO!” etc etc

Anyway, meet  Stephen Parkes. He’s the painted-blue human at the back there. He has 1,061 smurfs. Or at least, he did when this picture was taken. He’s probably got even more, by now. Impressive, isn’t it?

I said isn’t it?

Hello?

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

See more posts by Fraser McAlpine