I'll bet you're wondering how the attempt at the world record for largest air guitar ensemble went aren't you? Well, suffice to say that it set a new world record, but mainly because they're wasn't an existing record. (Yes, I was surprised too. Apparently, though there has been a claim made the attempt wasn't witnesses and recorded by the Guinness book people so that doesn't count. Apparently.)
Anyway, let's look at the day in pictures (courtesy of my lovely producer, Eileen Hawkes) and I'll explain the story behind them...
Beaming Up Scotty
This is me picking up the director Scott Abraham and his equipment, and trying to get the vibe going!
Beating the Queues
Scott oversees the purchasing of the tickets. It's not that I need constant supervision, honest...
So this is Sheffield?
Its's nice, innit? Eileen and I were particularly impressed by the water features that greet you as you leave the station. And it was sunny - bonus!
However, not long after this picture was taken, we joined the taxi queue amongst the Sunderland fans heading to Hillsborough also and Eileen began to understand further my misgivings regarding attempting to get 30,000 football fans to air guitar to Saxon's new single. I was convinced they weren't going to go for it. Eileen, because she's a lovely positive person was very enthused and pooh-poohed my dark imaginings until we joined that taxi queue and had to listen to Sunderland fans singing daft, sick songs about Geordies. My stomach lurched, "Be calm," I thought to myself, "you're just there as a consultant - it's not like you've got to get up in front of that crowd to choruses of 'get yer tits out for the lads'..."
On arrival we get whisked into a committee room so we can discuss how this attempt should go.
Round the table are the PR company, man from Guinness Book of World Records, Scott my director and Saxon.
Firstly, I decide to jump right in a query the rules for this record, one of which ordered that participants must air guitar for 5 whole minutes! "What nonsense!" I declare, "in competitions no one ever gets that long!" Within seconds it's decided that a record attempt can be undertaken during the length of the song that's used, providing it's over 3 minutes. "You're the expert here" explains man-from-Guinness. Secure in this knowledge, I begin to relax a little until....
The dawn of realisation
This photo was taken at the moment I realised that as the 'expert' I would be required to go out onto the pitch and lead the 'lesson' that was required under the Guinness rules. Crikey.
Yeah, but it's Saxon!
Looking around me I decided I wasn't the worst off in that room. Take Saxon, who had to go out there and mime to their new song, whilst being filmed for a documentary about impresario extraordinaire, Harvey Goldsmith, and how he can (or can't?) turn flagging creative businesses round. They were more nervous than I was (especially lead vocalist Biff on the right of this picture who just before this pic was taken had been arguing with Gerry, the guy stood up, from the PR company). The whole afternoon had a pleasant Spinal Tap-ism about it.
Half time hell
This is Barney the Owl (geddit?), me and Saxon heading towards the centre circle for the debacle that is to follow. Notice that head hanging down. I was almost overwhelmed by the feeling of wanting to be anywhere else, other than about to air guitar at half time in a football match. The things you do, eh, in the name of research?
Poor the Saxon
Here are Saxon when they still had some dignity in tact, before they whored themselves in front of over 20,000 people in a bid to increase sales of their new single to cries of "Who are you?!" from the baying crowd. And let's not lose sight of the fact that this was what the day was about - marketing a comeback single for a band with no budget for more traditional methods. This wasn't about the great, universal joy of a large group of people air guitaring to a song they know and love. No, it was cheap PR.
It's at this point that I'd love to be able to show you pictures of people air guitaring, but unfortunately, we don't seem to have any. You'll just have to take my word that there were some people joining in. I saw two young girls and a granny swinging their air axes but that was about it. A record was set, but I'm sure it must have been in the hundreds rather than the thousands. Anyway, here's the official certificate: