#24hours7cities? At 12.25pm tomorrow (UK time), I’ll attempt to smash the current Guinness World Record for Visiting Most Number of Capital Cities. The record stands at six; tomorrow I’m attempting seven. Oh, and the small print is that it has to be done in 24hours. Erm, hence #24hours7cities on Twitter.
Why bother? Put simply, in the words of Sir George Mallory when asked why he was attempting Everest’s summit, ‘because it’s there’. A challenge is a challenge; If we didn’t strive to break new ground and push ourselves, we’d still be cleaning our teeth with sticks.
But once I’d decided to challenge this Guinness World Record – set last autumn by journalist Sarah Warwick – I realised it was an opportunity. A high profile opportunity to bring an unconscionable issue into the limelight: human trafficking. It’s an issue that has resonated with me ever since I learnt of its worldwide prevalence. For more details of the World Record, and my donation page to ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking), click here.
So, tomorrow, let’s pray that the gods of happenstance decide trains run on time. The – ahem – track record has been promising lately.
A big thank you to Amy Laker at the Eurostar press office for agreeing to start the stopwatch at London’s St Pancras International Terminal tomorrow. And another huge thank you to the team at ITMI. Without their unbounded support, none of this would have been possible. (Google ‘Barnaby Davies human trafficking’ and you’ll see just how instrumental ITMI has been in reaching news broadcasters around the world.)
Easy challenge? Good old wholesome fun? A little jaunt round Europe’s cultural capitals, same as usual? In a word, no, although the travel itself is not the really taxing part; the teaser is satisfying Guinness World Record stringent guidelines.
The big cheeses are not to be fobbed off with a few travel receipts and one’s code of honour. They require incontrovertible evidence: log book, high quality photographs, and 24 hour video footage – pretty tricky when on the move with no guaranteed power sources. Neither can one just hop in a taxi – owing to a delayed train, perhaps – and say, ‘Buckingham Palace, James, and don’t spare the horses.’ Scheduled transport only, is what this record is about.
Wish me luck, folks. And please donate to ECPAT if you can. If you’re unable to, that’s OK; #24hours7cities is about boosting public awareness of human trafficking as well as raising funds. If you’re reading this – and hopefully sharing via social media – we’re half way there.
Here we go, then! Let’s hope there aren’t ‘the wrong kind leaves on the track’ tomorrow…