I feel the time has come for me to appeal to you, my readers, for a small favour.
NO… I don’t want to borrow any money.
Actually, I need your help in getting me back into the Guinness.
NO… I have not been kidnapped by Alcoholics Anonymous.
I am not talking about the warm dark frothy stuff with the white bit on the top that takes half an hour before the barman finally accepts the glass is full up and gives it to you.
I am talking, of course, about The Guinness Book of Records.
You see, a few months ago I went into my local Waterstone’s Bookshop and headed straight for the Guinness Book of Records section.
Picking up a copy of the 2001 Edition,
I turned to my fellow browsers.
“I am in this book.” I said.
…nobody looked up!
“I am a world champion.” I continued “But no photos or interviews please… I am just here on a social visit…”
“So what are you in it for?” a teenage girl in a huge pair of jeans with her Calvin Kleins showing, finally asked.
“You guess” I replied.
“I have no idea… why don’t you tell me?” she said.
“Actually… I am in the Guinness Book of Records because I have… the biggest ball of string in the world.” I replied.
“No you haven’t.” she said.
“Yes I have.” I said… “It’s outside in a huge trailer. It weighs two tons”
She glanced uneasily towards the window… or maybe it was the exit.
“It took me 20 years to do. I am very proud of it.” I said.
“Go on! You are joking aren’t you?” she said.
“You are right.” I admitted.
“The truth is I am in the Guinness because I have the longest fingernails in the world!”
I held out my hands towards her.
“They are not longer than anybody else’s!” she said. I glanced down at them.
“Gosh! You are right!” I said “Somebody has cut them off in my sleep! This is terrible!”
“ARE YOU GOING TO TELL ME WHY YOU ARE IN IT OR NOT?”
“All right I will” I paused…”I am in the Guinness Book of records for selling the world’s LARGEST LIFE INSURANCE POLICY.”
She turned and walked towards New Fiction.
“Aren’t you even going to ask me how big it was?” I shouted after her.
“All right then…how big was it?” she asked over her shoulder.
“One Hundred Million Dollars.” I said.
She carried on walking.
I opened the book and looked up the Insurance Section.
AND THAT’S WHEN MY WHOLE LIFE FELL APART.
I wasn’t in it!
I couldn’t believe it!
They had dropped ‘The Largest Life Insurance Policy ever sold’ section!!
It had been there for over thirty years.
It was a cornerstone of the book.
Clearly, Guinness were committing commercial suicide.
Didn’t they know that, every Christmas Day, millions of GBR readers around the world traditionally sit round their trees with their families and say “Ok kids, it’s that time of year again when we see what the largest life insurance policy ever sold was.” before sitting down to enjoy their Christmas Dinner?
It had all started one day in 1991 when I had made a cold call from my office in Oxford Circus to Sid Sheinberg, the President of MCA Universal in Los Angeles, and said “Sid, I am a life insurance salesman in London…would you like to buy a $100 million life policy?”
He said “Thank God you have called, Peter. You know, when I woke up this morning I knew there was something missing from my life”…OR WORDS TO THAT EFFECT.
Anyway, that’s how I got into the Guinness (TRUST ME ON THIS) and I had been in it ever since… for nine consecutive years …until that fateful moment in Waterstone’s Notting Hill Branch.
It’s OK…I know, at this point, what you are thinking… Peter you live out our wildest fantasies, and turn them into reality.
Ok.…so maybe that’s not what you are thinking.
But the fact is that MY PARENTS HAVE DINED OUT ON THIS FOR YEARS.
“My son, The Guinness…..”
Now they have to endure the taunts of their neighbours in the street…
“So, Mrs. Rosengard…I hear your son isn’t in the Guinness Book of Records 2001 Edition anymore…”
I ask you, why should they have to suffer this humiliation at their age? My father is 86 years old, and tomorrow is Father’s Day! How do you think I| feel?
“Hi! I am Peter Rosengard. I am in the Guinness Book of Records?” has been my standard low key introduction for years.
Frankly, I am emotionally shattered, and so are my friends, clients and associates- particularly in Japan where life insurance salesmen are regarded as sex symbols.
All this might not sound a big deal to some of you.. but let me ask … when was the last time YOU were a world record holder?
As soon as I discovered I had been dropped, I wrote to Miss Brooks, the Correspondence editor of the GBR.
Six weeks and fourteen letters later, without even a SINGLE acknowledgement, I rang their offices.
“Can I speak to Miss Brooks please?”
“I am sorry but she doesn’t take calls, please can you put it in writing?”
“I have put it in writing fourteen times, and she still has not replied.”
“Ms Brooks does not correspond.” the receptionist said.
“What do you mean she does not correspond?” I said “She is the Correspondence editor!” I know that by now you are just as angry as I am!
So I urge you all to write to the Chairman of the Guinness Book of Records and tell him that until the worlds largest Life Insurance Policy category is reinstated you and your family will not be buying a Guinness this Christmas.
Together, globally, we can fight this injustice!
YES! WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Your columnist needs you!
And when we win… The Guinness is on me ..the 2002 edition that is.
But remember…. you’ll still have to buy your own Xmas Tree.
The Saturday Column June 16th 2001 Copyright Peter Rosengard 2001. All back columns including those that first appeared in The Independent 1993/1995, are now up on the site. Please see The Saturday Column Archive.