A World’s Fastest Talker adventure.
First you need to watch the Video.
This was back in 2012, I was approached by a Korean company who wanted to bring me out to Korea to make a video promoting their latest mobile ( cell) phone, the company was LG and their latest phone had lots of “World records” attached to it, so given that I have a world record, well you can see the connection.
A comedy of errors
Normally I’d charge a fee for doing this and they did in fact offer me quite a generous one however Seoul has always been on my bucket list in particular the DMZ, I mean it’s widely regarded as the most dangerous border on earth, what a rush to actually stand there and stare down the North Koreans.
I just had to share this so we did a deal that if they also paid for my partner to come with me. She was as thrilled as I was.
Then it began, the comedy of errors, from beginning to end if it could have gone wrong it did go wrong, this was by far going to be the most memorable thing I had ever done, at the start I didn’t know this but from the times we got the plane tickets it all went wrong.
March 22nd 2020
The Rugby 6 nations championship was on, I am not a great rugby fan, truth be told I can’t stand it but my partner is Welsh and they have rugby running through their veins so we had been watching a game and I got a bit bored and said “I need to sort out some paperwork for the Seoul trip next month, can you pass the plane tickets over so I can fill in the flight details” she got the tickets and said to me “Have you checked the date on these tickets”? I said “Yeah” thinking maybe she hadn’t read them “May 22nd” she then said “I think you better look a these right now”
So I did, then I looked at the clock, then back at the tickets, then back at the clock.
I remember my exact words “Fuck! fuck! fuck! fuck!” I rushed over to my PC and checked my emails, both the tickets and the emails tallied, the flight was March 22nd this very day ???? not only that it was at 7pm that evening and it was 3pm now.
OMG! I shouted MOVE! get packed as quick as you can, I’ll ring for a Taxi to get us to the airport we ned to be there by 5pm at the latest. “what shall I pack?” she said “I dunno, when I looked the temp was going to be 23-25c while we are out there” so I left her to pack whilst I sorted out the logistics of suddenly going from slob around the house mode to international trip mode.
The highlight of which was my son standing at the top of the stairs absolutely wetting himself with laughter watching the 2 of us rush round in a panic like blue arsed flies trying to pack, organise taxi’s and shut my business down for 2 weeks.
The taxi arrived at 4pm, LHR (Heathrow) is an hour away with no traffic, we needed to be there by 5pm.
I explained this to the taxi driver and I swear he deliberately drove at 67mph for the whole journey just to wind me up.
10 past 5 he got us to the airport, no tip for him, we rushed out of the taxi sprinted to the check in desk 5:15. check in closed at 5pm lots of begging and pleading and finally Korean air checked us in.
By the time we had done that, cleared security and got airside they had already opened the gate so we quickly rushed round the shops and grabbed the few things we couldn’t pack or knew we had forgotten ad rushed to the gate arriving less than 15 mins before departure, we were the last to arrive, they were waiting for us before they shut the gate, luckily the check in desk had advised we were on our way.
We boarded, out of breath from running and sweating like pigs and just looked at each other and sighed then chuckled.. we had made it, gone from slob mode to full international business trip mode in under 3 hours.
It was late March and it had just started to warm up in the UK so I was in the same T shirt and shorts i had been slobbing in,she was also dressed in casual lightweight clothing, the flight was a scheduled one and full of “business” people TBH I didn’t really fit in with all the suits, ah what the hell it’s a 12 hr flight, sod em, I’ll just fall asleep and let them worry about how I’m dressed.
We arrive in Seoul
It was a long, long 12hr flight and I managed to sleep through most of it except for eating meals, I did wake up one time and go to the toilet and while I was waiting I looked out the porthole in the door I looked down and bugger me there was the great wall of China when yoiu see it from 30,000ft you realise just how big it actually is and what it must have taken to have built it.
I didn’t have my camera with me that was in my case or I would have taken loads of pictures, it is however an image that is imprinted on my mind forever.
The plane pulls up to get we deplane and start heading towards immigration and customs. I start bitching about the artic like aircon in the terminal and wishing I had worn a jacket, then It occurs to me I am the only one wearing shorts, everyone else is wearing trousers and coats and hats.
Realisation is starting to dawn, I said to my other half “What did you pack?” she said “T shirts, shorts, you know the usual summer stuff.” May in Korea is 23c+ I know this cos that’s when I checked the temp, March however is -1c to 9c.
How stupid do I feel? yup, my fault she asked me what to pack and cos I was rushing and stressing I told her it would be 23c+ Oops.
I don’t think I have ever been so cold.
The owner of the TV production company making this film met us at the airport and took us into town to out “hotel” well I say hotel, it turns out that hey had quite a good accommodation budget and we were actually staying in serviced apartments and they were very luxurious indeed.
I actually spent a good hour just sitting on the toilet cos it massages you with jets of warm water then gave you a blow dry, that was fun.
We had a deluxe kitchen with all the facilities you could think of and a maid that did the room twice a day.
It was actually the evening by the time we got settled and jet-lag was a factor, we had an early start in the morning as I had to do a wardrobe fitting and some screen tests so we went to bed for the night.
My right hand man
The next day began with me being met by a “runner” for the production and someone he introduced as my “right hand man”, you have no idea or maybe you do, where my mind went at that point ???? however it turns out he was my translator and assistant. The reason for this soon became very clear hardly anyone on the film crew or wardrobe spoke English.
First job of the day was to get to the wardrobe department for my “fitting”, a few weeks prior they had mailed me and ask for my measurements as they were going to dress in some crazy clothes.
Oh! You’re fat
I turned up at the wardrobe dept for a “last minute” fitting of my “uniform”
This ^^^ was my “uniform” that they got me to wear, I have no idea why but this is Koreans think middle aged Englishmen look.
So I get to the wardrobe dept and they pass me the clothes I have to wear, now 3 weeks prior to this they had emailed me and asked for my neck and waist size which I gave them but when It came time to try them up they didn’t fit over my fat belly ????.
The girl in charge of wardrobe looked at me then exclaimed rather loudly “Oh! you fat!” then straight away put her hand over her moth, went bright red and ran out of the room.
I just sat there and laughed. My “right hand man” ( and I still snigger to this day at that) came in and explained that in the Korean culture she had actually committed a serious offence and insulted me, I didn’t feel insulted and truly couldn’t have cared less and I spent the rest of that day via my interpreter re-assuring her I took no offence.
The roller coaster
So then they took me to the “set” a Roller-Coaster.
I love Roller-coasters, yay, this was going to be great fun especially as it was high and had an inverted loop.
And indeed the 1st take was great fun as was the 2nd, the 3rd, the 4th, the 5th and by the 6th I was starting to not enjoy this.
When you are filming on a set if you make a mistake or someone else does you just stop and start again, when you are filming on a roller coaster you can’t do that, you have to go to the end of the run and start again.
10 times and my side was starting to get sore was being thrown about
20th take I was starting to get really pissed off
30th take and the mistakes kept happening.
46th take.. YES 46 times I had been on this coaster so far that day 46 times!!!! they said they had what they needed and wanted just one more take with me pretending to be feel sick.
I didn’t have to pretend as I went up the ramp again I really did feel sick, I never get sick on these things but then I have never been one on 46 times in a row.
Finally the take was done I got out found a trash can and puked up repeatedly.
This was ( at the time of writing) 9 years ago, I haven’t been on a roller coaster since this day and i doubt if I ever will go on one again.