Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Big Whoppers Club.

The Big Whopper club is proud to announce the latest member to be inducted into the Big Whopper Hall of Fame. The Big Whopper Club is an Inland Waterways version of the "Tall Story" Club. 

The awards come in three standards. The Big Whopper Gold Standard Award is to acknowledge the quality of the story content and the I don't believe it quotient.  Most of all it is to recognise the possibility that the story also creates the element of doubt in the readers mind that it might just be true. 

A "Tall Story" is a tale told with a straight face even though it is peppered with many unbelievable elements and factual inaccuracies  Each element in a Tall Story is related as if it were true and factual. Some such Tall Stories are often made with wild speculative exaggerations of actual events. 

A typical example of a tall story might be based on a fish story. But not based on the big whopper that got away. No, this story cannot be based on oft maligned but common fisherman's tale of the one that got away. That sort of tall story would be sussed out in a moment. 

Keeping to the fishy example. A real Tall Story would be one where a tale is created around a small group of people living on a canal. The group have not the slightest  interest whatsoever in fishing.  The group then get together to form a non-fishing, fishing club all of their own. They then make an application to the canal authorities to manage fishing along a section of some obscure canal. Then the group promptly ban all the disabled fishermen in the area from fishing. When a disabled fisherman in a wheelchair turns up to fish something he has done for many years previously. The non-fishing fishing club has the gall to send for the police to do their dirty work. The important element here is. Could this be a wild, speculative exaggeration - or could it be based in truth.

A real tall story has to have a totally unbelievable element with just a small possibility that it could in reality be true. Therefore it is in the opinion of the Big Whopper Judges that the above story has reached the required Gold Standard.

Tall Stories are often told so as to make the originator seem to have been a part of the story. They can be vile, humorous or good-natured. But for best effect the line between truth and the Tall Story is distinguished primarily by the I don't believe it factor. As with many myths there's this tendency to exaggerate the exploits of the hero or villain of the piece  But in Tall Stories the exaggeration often looms large, to the extent of becoming the whole of the story.

A similar event to the Big Whopper is the World's Biggest Liar Competition. An annual competition for telling lies, held in Cumbria. Competitors from around the world have five minutes to tell the biggest and most convincing lie they can. Competition rules bar the use of props or scripts. Politicians and Lawyers are not allowed to enter the competition, because "they are judged to be too skilled at telling porkies".

The World's Biggest Liar competition is held every November at the Bridge Inn, Santon Bridge, in memory of Will Ritson (1808–1890), a pub landlord from Wasdale, who was well known for his "tall tales". One of Ritson's most famous fibs was that turnips grew so large in the Lake District that people carved them out to make cow sheds.

In 2003, Abrie Krueger of South Africa was named the world's biggest liar after telling a story about how he was crowned King of the Wasdale Valley. This marked the first time that a foreigner had won the competition, which was marked with allegations of Krueger having cheated. A Bishop of Carlisle was supposed to have once won the competition with the shortest-ever speech; he simply said, "I have never told a lie in my life."

Comedienne Sue Perkins won the competition in 2006, marking the first time in the event's history that a woman won the competition. Her winning tall tale was about how the ozone layer became damaged, ice caps melted and people had to be taken to work on camels.

In 2008, John "Johnny Liar" Graham won the competition for the seventh time after telling the judges a story of a magical ride to Scotland in a wheelie bin that went under the sea. 

In 2007, John "Johnny Liar" Graham's winning lie was that a World War II German submarine had invaded Britain to capture digital television decoders.

Paul Burrows from Essex won the competition in 2010. He told a story of how the lakes and mountains of the Cumbrian countryside had been stolen from the county of Essex, leaving it as flat as it is today.

The 2011 winner was Glen Boylan. His story involved betting on a snail race with Prince Charles (who advised him to remove the shell to make it more aerodynamic) and losing because his opponents cheated with battery-operated snails. Mr. Boylan's said "Just before the whistle, Prince Charles nudged me and said: ‘Take the shell off your snail, it’ll make it more aerodynamic.’ So I did, and I put all my money on it. But it didn't work – it just made the snail more slug-ish." The tale also involved being offered a mayonnaise and peanut butter sandwich by a good Samaritan who just happened to be Prince Charles who was passing through. Prince Charles was in Cumbria to hand out the prizes in the annual snail race and the odd pets competition. He said he’d be giving his royal seal of approval to three historic buildings while in the area. ‘The Beacon in Whitehaven, because of its maritime heritage, Curwen Hall in Workington, because of its connections with Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Copeland Council offices, because it’s full of dinosaurs.’


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