The house where Tom and Clara live was tucked into the corner of a winding cul-de-sac. It was almost silent on the street outside. Tom was a slender man with fierce blue eyes and the cropped hair of an air force pilot. As we talked, he gave the impression of laughing without moving his face. He gave me half an hour of his time, and spoke in an even tone without pause. He was quiet and to the point – his world record attempt, in equal parts impressive and bizarre.