Devouring 52 bananas in two and a half minutes? Spitting a pip 14.71 metres? For mere mortals, these are difficult records to break. But not for Roger Closset, played by Belgian actor Benoit Poelvoorde, in the film The Carriers are Waiting ('Les Convoyeurs attendent'). In 1999, this character, a tabloid photographer, began to skim through the book of records, searching for a suitable challenge. Finding THE right idea was a real headache. The one that would allow his name to be written in the renowned book and thus inscribed in history. For him, and not least for his son, this was to be a challenge that only a madman would actually take on: opening and closing a door more than 40, 000 times in twenty-four hours. It's a feat suited to Belgian humour.
Eleven years on, Belgian politicians are now outdoing fiction by contesting a title that nobody else desires and that they therefore have every chance of winning. In any case, that's what the creator of the website 'The World Record for Days without a Government’, with its giant ticker clock, is betting on.
Iraq, Belgium, Ivory Coast: excellent platform
To my left, the current title holder. Iraq. 289 days. The feat was accomplished in 2009 and has never since been equalled. To my right, the challenger. Belgium. 288 days. 'Three regions, three languages, a host of idiotic politicians, chips, beer, ten million sheep and already the European record holder,' according to the website. If Belgium still hasn't formed a government by 30 March, it will be a done deal! But the final stretch will perhaps be the most difficult, with protests and campaigns that could well shake the both sides of the linguistic border. These include the 'sex strike' launched by a Flemish senator, as well the shaving boycott proposed by French-speaking Benoît Poelvoorde, who seems to be ever-present when it comes to breaking records.
However, the Belgian people can be reassured that even if they don't win this time, they still have some great achievements under their belt. According to the Guinness book of records, this country already holds the record for the largest range of beers available. That is 2, 004 different types to be precise, all of which can be sampled in a Belgian establishment. Belgians can pride themselves on being the world-record holders for the most people simultaneously doing a handstand: 399. Or for having the largest disco ball. Or the largest pillow. Or the biggest backwards race. Or the longest strudel. Or the tallest tower of sugar cubes. Or even for the longest salami. To come to the point, as regards bizarre records the Belgians are far, very far, from falling short of them. There are now only a few days left for the Walloons and the Flemish to avoid adding another useless title to their already substantial list of achievements. The clock is ticking.
Image: main (cc) Laura Burlton/ Flickr/ Laura Burlton Photography