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Exploits of the bold & bizarre

London, Sept. 24 (Reuters): If you can pluck a chicken in under 4.4 seconds or swallow 95 worms in half a minute, your chance of glory awaits in the ultimate achievers’ book.

Keep bell-ringing till you are 101 years old or unhook 17 bras with one hand in under a minute and your place is assured in Guinness World Records.

Or why not try something completely different — invite round your 982 closest friends and set the record for the most people to sit on whoopee cushions at the same time.

“People really do the most remarkable things,” said Guinness editor Claire Folkard, reflecting on the book that gets 60,000 record claims a year.

“The fascination is just endless,” she said on the eve of the 2004 edition being published in Britain. “The crazy stuff is a lot of fun.”

Guinness, whose sales look set to top 100 million by the end of this year, even has its own entry as the world’s most successful copyright book. It is only outsold by the Bible and the Koran.

The breathtaking and the bizarre abound in the latest edition from an American woman who boasts the largest breasts in the world to the dog with the longest ears.

Dutchman Niek Vermeulen makes his claim to fame with a collection of 3,240 airline sick bags. Malta has the world’s lowest road accident rate. A Russian woman had 69 children.

The book was launched in 1954, brainchild of Hugh Beaver, managing director of the Guinness Brewery.

He was out shooting in Ireland and got into an argum- ent about whether the golden plover ranked as Europe’s fastest game bird.

Believing that records sparked pub and bar disputes around the world, he decided the time was right to produce the ultimate reference book for superlatives.

So, almost 50 years on, readers can stand up in the pub and confidently proclaim: Not many people know that....

• Switzerland’s Jean Francois Vernetti has the world’s largest collection of hotel “Do Not Disturb” signs

• Thai medicine man Hoo Sateow boast the world’s longest hair which he believes holds the key to his healing powers

• The world’s largest Santa gathering was in Bralanda, Sweden when 2,685 Father Christmases paraded down the main street, to the eternal confusion of the town’s children

• American Bernie Barker claims to be the world’s oldest male stripper, starting at the age of 60 to get in shape after recovering from prostate cancer.

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