YOU’VE heard of a message in a bottle. Well, one man has decided to go a step further and… put a stone in one.
John McAndrew, originally from Uggool, County Mayo and a North London resident for the past 33 years, was gazing at an empty wine bottle on his coffee table one morning when he got an entrepreneurial flash of inspiration.
He hopes his luck will finally help Mayo to victory in the All-Ireland Final against Dublin: “If I can put a rock in the neck of a bottle, surely Mayo can put the ball in the back of the net!”
An ex-plumber, you’d think John would be more adept at getting things out of tight spaces. But the father of two said: “‘I paid nearly £11 for the wine and I thought, wouldn’t it be great to come up with something that would make me that money back! It was 5.30am, and I went off and made myself a cup of tea. By 8.30am, I’d worked out the theory – I just needed to put it into practice…”
The theory was exactly how one gets a sizeable stone into a glass bottle with a narrow neck without tampering with or breaking the bottle.
A week and a lot of practice later, John had cracked the code – though his first attempt with the original wine bottle had to be discarded. The one he is proudly showing off now is inside an empty vinegar bottle.
As for how he did it, John says the secret will go with him to the grave: “Even my own son and daughter don’t know how I did it. It would be like Coca Cola giving away their secret ingredient! But the evidence is there for all to see.”
Friends and acquaintances, including the manager of his local supermarket in Brondesbury and Seamus Moore, landlord of the pub Conways 3, are enthralled with John’s rock in a bottle trick.
He has applied for a place in the Guinness Book of Records for his so-called “rock in the bottle” and his entry has been accepted. Within eight to nine weeks, John should find out whether his unique piece, which takes pride of place on his mantelpiece, is in fact a world record.
John believes it’s a one-off. He said: “There are 70 million people in the world and honestly, as far as I can tell, no one else has done this before.”
John is now thinking of starting up a business selling his bottles to order, with stones inside in Ireland’s county colours.