Hugh Beaver – The Record Recorder

Tell me, what is the faster game bird in Europe? The Golden Plover, or the Grouse?

I know we’ve all debated this very question over the years, and I can tell you with some authority that the answer is the plover.

This is because this is the question that caused an argument between two gentlemen at a shooting party in Ireland in 1951 that eventually led to the creation of the Guinness Book of Records. One of these gentlemen involved was then the managing director at Guinness brewery, Mr. Hugh Beaver.

Mr. Hugh Beaver, back in the day, in a nice hat.

Mr. Hugh Beaver, back in the day, in a nice hat.

Beaver, quite correctly, figured that lots of people around bars, pubs, hunting grounds, bowling alleys, and perhaps even Volvo dealership breakrooms may be having these types of debates every day with no way to solve them. So he set about working on a book that would tell us what is the fastest, longest, largest, and most bedazzled anything ever.

Today of course, we have the internet, which I’m sure has hurt the book’s sales somewhat, but the legend stands. I myself remember poring over the many records as a young one, eager to learn about who the world’s most popular television star was (David Hasselhoff, I believe) or how long a grown man could willingly grow his fingernails (way too long).

Once the idea was born, Beaver got right to work. In 1954, he commissioned two fact-finder brothers in London to compile all the records into one book, which was to be given away for free. The book found amazing success, and unexpectedly became the number one bestseller of England’s Christmas season in 1955. Since then, its various editions have sold more than a hundred million copies, solving bird-related arguments for men carrying shotguns everywhere.

The Beaver Family, today.

The Beaver Family, today.

About Arto

Co-founder of the Funny Names Blog, Hawaiian shirt enthusiast, and holder of a funny name himself with too many vowels for any sensible person. Currently residing in San Diego, California, scouring through obscure documents on a hunt for more funny names.
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25 Responses to Hugh Beaver – The Record Recorder

  1. kerbey says:

    Finally a place to discuss the Plover/Grouse debates! I recently posted a Guinness ad on my blog WWII era, and the man doing the recruit headshaving was shown as needing to take a break and drink Guinness. As I researched Guinness history, I, too, discovered this was where the Book of World Records came from. But seriously, how did it take us this long to figure that out? Like you, I devoured GBOWR as a child, which led to reading almanacs, which always had lists of former funny celebrity names. In my 20s, I poured patrons pints of Guiness or Black & Tans and STILL didn’t equate the beer to the book. It wasn’t until THIS year that I figured out Black & Tan wasn’t just a drink.

    And regarding the Beaver, I have to object to his shirt collar poking out from his jacket. He knew his pic was being taken. I think he might have been a bit “full” if you get my drift. And while I always enjoy a man in a hat, this brim reminds me of Michael Jordan talking about “bacon collar.” You know, when things get a bit warped around the edges. Like when my husband is doing woodwork in the garage and reaches for his shirt collar to dab at sweat in his eyes. Or my son rips his shirt off by the collar. All poor manners, if you ask me.

    And I might be rambling, but I think plover looks like P-Lover, which is probably a rapper’s name somewhere. Isn’t there a G-Love? I know fo shizzle there is a “glover.” Not Danny, but a slang term, which is applicable here. To “glover” is when someone opens a 2nd beer when there is a small amount of beer left in their 1st beer and claim that it is only backwash and hops left in the beer. Per urban dictionary: “You just glovered that beer, go finish it before you start a new one.” I think the lesson here is drink your beer fast. Otherwise, you wind up with lukewarm, glovery Guinness.

    • Dave says:

      That might have been the most knowledge and commentary packed into one comment in the history of this blog! Well done Kerbey!!!!

      There is a G-Love. G-Love and special sauce. P-Lover doesn’t sound as kosher.

      I learned something new about the word “glover” today.

      But more importantly… what is Black & Tan other than a drink? I always thought it was just a dark beer mixed with a lighter one…

      • Arto says:

        Black & Tans were British police force guys in Ireland back in the end who got quite a bad rep over there. Don’t order a Black & Tan in Ireland, they won’t like that 🙂

      • kerbey says:

        The “Black and Tans” were British ex-soldiers recruited to reinforce the United Kingdom’s police force in Ireland. So don’t order one in Ireland.

        And I don’t want to know what’s in the special sauce.

    • Arto says:

      Mmmm yes, the memories a simple mention of Guinness inspires. Inspiring beverage, that.

      I think you may be right about the reason behind Beaver’s collar there. I know what I’d be having for lunch most days if I ran a brewery.

  2. ksbeth says:

    such a great name and a great undertaking.

  3. What a funny beginning for a book. Love the “tail” you told with this one. 🙂

  4. Dave says:

    I hate being put on the spot! Just kidding… I hate being put on the spot when I have no clue what I’m talking about! I didn’t even know the Plover was a bird until just now, so I would have said the Grouse. Thank you for your work, Mr. Beaver! There’s still a lot to do since clueless folks like me are hanging around hunting grounds (hunting grounds? Really Arto? How did that come to your mind?) and don’t know a gosh-darn thing about record holders!!!

    • Arto says:

      Well, a hunting ground was where Beaver and pals were when discussing the matter of the bird so it was right on the tip of my tongue there, you could say.

      I wonder if their grouse was the famous one I’ve drank so much of.

  5. Was his middle initial “G”? Because Hugh G. Beaver has a certain ring to it.

  6. markbialczak says:

    Were arguments settled with the exclamation, “Leave It to Beaver,” thus giving way to the American TV show classic starring Jerry Matthers as, yes, The Beav? The timing’s just about right, Arto …

  7. SASS-A-FR-ASS says:

    FANTASTIC blog!!
    Thanks for popping in on mine as had you not done so, I’d never have found a new great blog to follow.
    Cheers! 🙂

  8. wdydfae says:

    I don’t remember ever seeing this one! I miss Arto’s wit and whimsical wisdom.

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