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Friday, November 19, 1999 Published at 07:50 GMT


I don't believe it!

The Wasdale Head Inn - where the tall tales started to grow

A 61-year-old farmer from Cumbria, with a taste for tall tales, has been awarded the title of World Champion Liar.

Those with a cynical mind might expect such an honour to be bestowed on a politician or an estate agent.

But John Graham, from Silloth, impressed the judges with a ripping yarn way beyond the imagination of any spin doctor.

Mr Graham was the hot favourite even before Thursday night's World Lying Championships got under way at the Bridge Inn at Santon Bridge, in the Lake District.

But his tall tale about his deep sea voyage in a freezer that was blown up by a torpedo, clinched the title.

When he sank to the seabed, so the tale goes, he found Neptune's treasure chest, brought it to the surface and paddled away with a golden spoon.

A whopping fib worthy of a man who has won the title of world champion on three previous occasions.

He is now eligible for a place in the Guiness Book of Records.

Or so he says.

'Obscure mind'

The World Lying Championships are now in their 25th year.

The competition has been run by Copeland Borough Council since 1974 in memory of Wil Ritson, who was the landlord of the Wasdale Head Inn in Victorian times.

He was renowned for keeping his customers enthralled with stories of the folk heritage of the area and was the first to become "The World's Biggest Liar".

John Graham puts his success with tall tales down to "an obscure mind".

He says he based this year's tale on recent events, including the floods in west Cumbria.

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Event sponsor Lesley Rhodes, the landlady of the Bridge Inn, says the secret of successful lying is to skirt as close to reality as possible.

But always avoid slipping into honesty.

There has never been a woman entrant in the World Lying Championships, which Lesley Rhodes hopes to put right next year.

She said: "Perhaps it shows men are bigger liars.

"Or at least that women don't like you to know when they are lying."

Surely that cannot be true?

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