“The world is just a great big onion,” sang Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. It’s a lyric that rings especially true in Leicestershire, where champion gardener Tony Glover’s eye-watering 8.5kg (18lb 12oz) beast could make an entire kitchen cry. It took more than a year to grow, measures 81cm (32in) around and would be enough to make 250 onion bhajis. Glover, 50, has been cultivating veg since his teens and really, ahem, knows his onions: “I give them a nitrogen-rich food and have to make sure the humidity is just right. I’ve also got grow-lights fitted to the greenhouse to simulate the sun when the days get shorter.” That’s shallot of effort.
In 2009, a group of eight British criminals with an average age of 57, the oldest member being 83, pleaded guilty to counterfeiting charges. The Serious Organised Crime Agency said the gang ran their money-printing operation like a legitimate business, working from sites in London and Glasgow. Each could produce a batch of notes worth £800 in an hour. Police recovered a stash of £5m in counterfeit currency: £4.4m worth of fake euros and £600,000 in bogus £20 notes. They worked from scans of genuine notes, used a £9,000 foiling machine for inserting metal strips, and produced what the Bank of England acknowledged were among the most realistic notes ever seized. A screen drama waiting to be told.
Nick “The Lick” Stoeberl from California has a tongue measuring 10.10cm (nearly 4in) from tip to lip. The 24-year-old is an artist who paints with his tongue by wrapping it in clingfilm, dipping it in acrylic paint, then licking the canvas. “I think one of the most useful things my tongue offers is that I have no need for a napkin,” he says. “If I get food on my face, I just lick it off. The only downside is that I have to spend longer brushing my tongue in the morning.” He has a challenger, though: Michigan teenager Adrianne “Long Tongue” Lewis can lick her eyeballs and claims hers is even longer. This is currently unverified.
She might be an asthmatic with an awkward gait and unorthodox nodding style, but Cheshire’s mighty Paula Jane Radcliffe MBE is one of our last remaining athletics record-holders. The three-time London Marathon winner shattered the record during the 2003 race with a time of 2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds – more than 3 minutes below anyone else in history. Race director Dave Bedford, a former 10,000m world champion himself, called it “the greatest distance running performance I’ve seen in my lifetime; it ranks in my mind alongside the impact of Bob Beamon’s long jump in 1968”. Radcliffe’s mark has stood for 12 years and she continues to hold the three fastest women’s marathon times ever.
What’s the weather like up there? Etc. The tallest man in medical history died 75 years ago but experts believe he’ll never be beaten. When Robert Pershing Wadlow from Illinois was measured shortly before his death in 1940, he was found to be 2.72m (8ft 11in) tall. Wadlow was buried in a coffin measuring 3ft x 11ft. He weighed 35st on his 21st birthday, his shoe size was 37AA (47cm/18.5in long), his handspan was more than 32cm (12in) and he consumed up to 8000 calories daily. By the age of nine, he was able to carry his 6ft father up the stairs of the family home. There are only 10 confirmed cases in history of humans reaching 8ft or more. The current world’s tallest is Turkish farmer Sultan Kösen at 8ft 3in.