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Strictly Off the Record: On the Trail of World Records with Norris McWhirter Hardcover – 6 Sep 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Summersdale (6 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849530696
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849530699
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 3 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,832,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Featured in The Mail on Sunday, 12th September 2010. --The Mail on Sunday, 12th September 2010.

`offers readers unrestricted access to a collection of truly unique encounters....'
--St Christopher's Inns Live Your Life e-zine, October 2010.

'Anna Nicholas recounts her adventures judging records around the world' --Choice Magazine - Christmas Gift Idea, December 2010

The Guiness Book of World Records has long been a festive favourite... Nicholas recounts adventures judging records around the world
--Choice Magazine - Christmas Gift Idea, December 2010

About the Author

Anna Nicholas has contributed to titles including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Telegraph Expat, The Independent and Express. She is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and once organised an expedition with explorer Colonel John Blashford-Snell to carry a grand piano to a remote Amerindian tribe.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a petulant teenager growing up in the late 70s and early 80s, I always found the Guinness Book of Records a slightly unappealing and heavyweight tome, perhaps because it so closely resembled the fact-filled and boring school text books I loathed so much.

However, after reading "Strictly off the Record", it is clear that life behind the scenes for the Guinness team was anything but boring. Once again, Anna Nicholas has used her exceptional writing talent to great effect, bringing all the record breaking characters and office colleagues to life in a way that makes for a highly entertaining and compelling read.

From the many episodes Anna describes in affectionate tribute to Norris McWhirter, it is clear that he was the brilliant backbone of the Book of Records, the glue that held the rest of the team together, always ready with some wise words when calm needed to be restored.

There are some noteworthy encounters with celebrity and public figures too, not least with the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who Anna reveals had a warm and softer side to her character, in contrast to the "Iron Lady" public persona so often portrayed in the media.

Anna also describes some of the high-pressure situations she herself faced as a Guinness adjudicator. Perhaps most crucially when armed with only a few facts relayed by telephone, she alone had to decide whether Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand had achieved their goal of setting a new record for crossing the Atlantic by hot air balloon, in the face of conflicting opinions and glaring publicity from the world's press.

Above all, "Strictly off the Record" is testament to the high value of loyal and lasting friendship, and proof that life in an office dealing with facts and figures doesn't necessarily have to be dull and boring!!
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Format: Hardcover
Anna Nicholas worked for The Guinness Book of Records (now Guinness World Records) when it was a proper reference book. Although founding co-editor Norris McWhirter had retired and Alan Russell, the creator of the television show Record Breakers, had taken over Mr McWhirter, or "No" as Miss Nicholas called him, was still very heavily involved as editorial director.

The book details Miss Nicholas's adventures at Guinness from her unusual interview - Mr McWhirter asked when she could start and then if she had any questions rather than the other way round - and her appointment as press officer and then records invigilator.

One oddity in the book is that almost no one at Guinness is given a surname apart from Norris McWhirter and managing director David Hoy so editor Alan is replaced by editor Donald (Russell and McFarlan are the missing monikers) which I suppose was intended to be chummy but comes across as a little odd.

That small gripe aside, the book is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at life producing the world's best-selling copyright book. We learn why Matthew Corbett had to soak Richard Branson with Sooty's water pistol, the country where Norris McWhirter is revered as a god and why Anna Nicholas kept being stopped at customs whenever she flew back from invigilating a record attempt.
No's chocoholism is the subject of much hilarity and David Hoy is probably the only managing director of a publishing company who doubled up as a general handyman.

The Guinness book has changed considerably since Norris McWhirter's departure.
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Format: Hardcover
Not really my sort of book but I was given a copy and I started to read,...and once I started I simply could not put it down. The Guiness book of Records has a world renown but I had never given much thought as to how these records were accredited and, I had certainly not thought about some of the weird situations and the strange backgrounds which acted as a back cloth to the record breaking events.
This is a fascinating book and has some wonderful characters and some great travelling. Best of all is the addiction that Norris McWhirter has for chocolate. When in foreign lands where the food can sometimes be a bit dodgy, eat chocolate, that will never make you ill. Wonderful.
A thoroughly recommended read
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been lucky enough to have read Anna's earlier books about life in the beautiful Soller Valley in Mallorca. From her first book I quickly come to enjoy her writing style and ability to allow the reader to become quickly emerged in the lives of the many diverse characters present - essential when reading these books on cold, rainy days in the UK!

When I saw that Anna was writing about her time working for the Guinness Book of Records I was really unsure what to expect. Yes, as I child I had received the book many times at Christmas and I was familiar with seeing Roy Castle and Norris McWhirter on television during the 1980s, but I was unsure if a book about life within the inner workings of the Guinness Book of Records could really hold my attention. How wrong I was!

This book is a real gem and I think it will offer an excellent and interesting read for anyone who is familiar with the Anna's other work or the Guinness Book of Records and its stars - from Michael Jackson to a man who can flip multiple coins on his arm!

As with Anna's other books, she has the fantastic skill of allowing the reader to quickly get to know and love the characters present in the book. Norris McWhirter is ever present in the book, and his fascination for facts and the oddities of human life make for fabulous reading. But there are other real life characters that the reader can quickly relate too, from the tea and biscuit lady in the office (I would love one of those where I work!) to the many odd and quirky characters who attempt to break world records all over the globe.

From the first few pages I was hooked on this book and really struggled to put it down.
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