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November 22, 2010 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Wasdale is a remote valley in the English Lake District. It boasts England's deepest lake, highest mountain, smallest church...and biggest liar.

Will Ritson ran a Wasdale pub in the nineteenth century and became famous for his tall tales and improbable stories. He used to tell gullible Victorian tourists that turnips in the dale grew so large that families quarried into them for their meals and then used the hollowed-out remains as barns for their sheep.

Every year the Bridge Inn hosts the contest to find the World's Biggest Liar, in honour of Auld Will. Competitors are invited from all round the world, and come from as far afield as Sweden and South Africa. According to organisers, it's not unknown for there to be a famous face or two in the audience - 2007 reportedly saw Tom Cruise at one end of the bar, and Tony Blair, a man who knows a thing or two about lying, at the other. The audience have heard how mermaids are farmed in Wastwater, claims that the geology of the Lake District was formed by giant moles, and the assertion that wind farms aren't built to generate electricity, but to slowly and sneakily propel Britain south to warmer climes.

The 2004 winner revealed plans for Wasdale to be flooded and the sheep to be replaced by fish farming. Residents whose homes would be flooded "would be allowed to keep their homes, with air locks at the door, and cat or dog fish flaps." In 2006 comedian Sue Perkins became the first woman to ever hold the title, with a lie about global warming caused by local sheep ('muttons of mass destruction'). Previous winners include local shepherd and fellrunning hero, Joss Naylor. But none have been as successful as the seven time title holder, Silloth farmer John 'Johnny Liar' Graham, whose fame has spread as far as China.

It's claimed that a special record for the fastest ever winner is held by a past Bishop of Carlisle, who stopped off at the pub on the night that the contest was taking place, announced in disgust that 'I have never told a lie in my life', and was promptly acclaimed the winner.

Politicians and members of the legal profession are barred from entry into the contest, as they are regarded as "too practised in the art".
posted by reynir (24 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I won this last year.
posted by jbickers at 10:53 AM on November 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


Thank you for the reminder that the Lake District is maybe the greatest place on earth.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:59 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Last year, Walt Disney and Anton Chekhov were there.
posted by Kalthare at 10:59 AM on November 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I play a little game with myself, with my friends as unwitting participants, very similar to this.

When there's a lull in conversation or someone asks an "I wonder..." question, I will pick up the slack by attempting to pull off the most boldfaced, bullshitting statement I can get away with. I win if you believe what I say.

This is a great exercise because a) I work with a bunch of humorless, stuffy engineer and management types and as such don't get my daily dose of creativity at work and b) I enjoy stretching the improv muscles. The trick is that, for the most part, I'm fairly straightforward and reserved around folks, and I already have a reputation for knowing lots of trivia. So, I can drop a bomb like, "Columbus Day was actually started as a marketing strategy for Columbus, Ohio," no one bats an eye. (I actually got into a twenty minute conversation with a group of friends on a long car trip about this very topic.)

The downside is that my girlfriend won't believe anything I say if it's preceded by "Funny story..." or "Did you know that...". Luckily, I carry a smartphone that can validate anything I say that's actually true.

Funny enough, my ten-year-old cousin is much better at calling me out than my mid-twenties friends are.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:08 AM on November 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


It boasts England's deepest lake, highest mountain, smallest church...and biggest liar.

Um, what's the source on the first three? :)
posted by Malor at 11:14 AM on November 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


More of MetaFilter's endless Cumbria-centrism. It's as if Dumfries and Galloway don't exist.
posted by Abiezer at 11:16 AM on November 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


"90% of everything you read on the internet is made up." --Abraham Linoln
posted by usonian at 11:27 AM on November 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Nice post.

I read it all the way to the end and followed all the links.
posted by mmrtnt at 11:35 AM on November 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


mmrtnt, I see what you did there.
posted by cccorlew at 11:41 AM on November 22, 2010


This comment is my entry for this year.
posted by kmz at 11:41 AM on November 22, 2010


Very fun post. Thanks!
posted by bearwife at 11:43 AM on November 22, 2010


I tried to enter last year but I couldn't get in the door 'cos my dick was too big.
posted by i_cola at 11:44 AM on November 22, 2010


2007 reportedly saw Tom Cruise at one end of the bar, and Tony Blair, a man who knows a thing or two about lying, at the other.
...
Politicians and members of the legal profession are barred from entry into the contest


Your entry has been disqualified as being internally inconsistent.
posted by DU at 11:48 AM on November 22, 2010


Audience != contestants.
posted by kmz at 11:54 AM on November 22, 2010


Tommy Flanagan [video | 3:00] could win this contest.
posted by ericb at 11:58 AM on November 22, 2010


I get invited to this every year, but I always just come up with some bullshit excuse not to attend.
posted by carsonb at 12:33 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm now hoping that the competition itself is a needlessly elaborate lie.
posted by Five O'Clock at 12:37 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hate the title of the FPP very much and find myself speechless as usual.
posted by The Lady is a designer at 12:39 PM on November 22, 2010


I started this contest. When I was a baby. That's why, for years, it was called The Baby Started This Contest. Alas, that piece of history is now dimly remembered, except by those of us who were there at the start, except me, because I was a baby and babies have terrible memories.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:44 PM on November 22, 2010


It's ridiculous that this 'liars competition' story is trotted out time and time again without anyone bothering to check the facts. The truth of the matter is that this competition is just a fabrication devised by the Ministry of Defense in order to discredit the testimony of the people of Wasdup regarding what is internally referred to as the call the Breach. All I'll say ab͖ou̯̯t͈̪̞ ͎͝t̺̬͡h̫͞e͕ ̠͎͙͟m̛̞͇a̰̰̫̯̣͢ͅt̡t͇̘͔̳̺̣́e̵̤r̴̬̭ͅ ̧̻̰͈̦̙iş ̷̗̲̞̤t̹̣̻̖͈̪͟ͅh͍a͍͕͖̲͓͖t̶̻̭̫̫̜ͅͅ ̟̺͓͓̠̠Ḿ̮̗͔͔͇͉r̜͠s̝͕̲͓̠̕ ̸̟G̛̮̤̺͙̰͉̱a̲͎͚͜l͉̮̥͍̝̭st̟̭̘͇o̠͓̦͔ń̪͇̜͕̝͓s͍̭̹͟ ̵͉p̮͉̼̩o̲̬̥̟̥̰̝o̥d̝̘̝̤͍͎̠͜l̴͇͇̫ͅe̞̥̞̯̯ ̤̭̲̰̱̪̞w̝̙̣̭̥͜a̩̜͖̺s͏̬̖͎̘̺ ͏̥ne̱͖̜̩v͠ͅe̠͉̤r̫̪̘͚̺ ̖͚̜͘th̥̦̲̝e̥̬̱͇̮ ̳̠͇̫͞s̜̼͕̹̺͈a̙̤̘͙̝̜̙m̫͔̺͕͉͓͠ͅe̹̦̖̕ ̭̰a̷̳̯͉̠̪͙f̲̮͟t̴͚͚͔̹̫e͚̲̦̕r͔̲̝̪̙̩̱ ͔̝͎̺͘t͎̫̱̮̞͞h̳̳̘̣͍̫̣at̞̤ͅ ͈̻̼̦̰̠̗͢n̨͉̣͍̥͎i̬͖̰̘g̡̤̘͓̯̟ẖ͚͉͖͞ͅt͕͔̺̘̺ ̧̞̹i̝͎̰̬̳n ́t̘he̹͟ ͅv̮̣̤͉a̫̪n̦̮̼̬̼͙͓,̘͞ ̸ḏ̹̟̭͚̕o҉͕͍̜w͓̙͍̱ṋ̴ ̮̳͖͚͟b̤̜͇y̘̯͉ ̛t͏͚̙̪̳h̹̝̫̀e̫̲͙͈͘ ҉̹͇͕̬͍l̟̝̠̥͈͈͝a̗̲͈̯͓k͓̼ȩ̮͔̩̠̻̙.̡̭̣̞̭̼̣
posted by zeoslap at 1:09 PM on November 22, 2010


I was traveling in the Soviet Union once and had to stop in a little village. I noticed a one-legged chicken hopping around in the customer's front yard and asked her what that was about. She said, "Oh, our little one got sick, so we made him some chicken soup."
posted by Twang at 1:15 PM on November 22, 2010


They stopped at the Hermit’s Nest for a rum to keep out the cold. “I played for Aberavon in 1898”, said a stranger to Enoch Davies.
“Liar”, said Enoch Davies
“I can show you the photos”, said the stranger.
“Forged” said Enoch Davies.
“And I’ll show you my cap at home”.
“Stolen”.
“I got friends to prove it”, the stranger said in a fury.
“Bribed”, said Enoch Davies.

posted by Jofus at 3:58 PM on November 22, 2010


I won this last year.
posted by jbickers at 6:53 PM on November 22


This is actually true. I was one of the judges and I voted for him.
posted by Decani at 3:45 AM on November 23, 2010


Zeoslap: just looking at that post scares me.
posted by reynir at 12:57 PM on November 23, 2010


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