Story of mythical marine creature takes top prize at Cumbria's World's Biggest Liar competition

Mike Naylor, aka Monkey Liar, defeats tall tales of 11 fibbers to claim £25 prize

The X Factor gave us Leona Lewis; Britain’s Got Talent propelled Susan Boyle to unlikely global stardom. Even New Faces bequeathed the Chuckle Brothers to a grateful world.

Yet although it continues to exert a magnetic effect on the world’s media as a living breathing emblem of English eccentricity, the World’s Biggest Liar competition stubbornly refuses to yield a household name from its growing roll call of winners.

On Thursday night, a packed function room at the historic Bridge Inn in Wasdale, Cumbria listened in slack-jawed disbelief to the tall tales of 11 fibbers – all intent on claiming the title for relaying the most preposterous story.

Clutching his cheque for £25, a battered tin cup and a case of Jennings ales, victorious Mike Naylor aka Monkey Liar had his feet firmly on the ground.

“It’s the third time I have won so I suppose I wouldn’t mind a bash at judging it next time,” he said.  Mr Naylor, 54, a farm health advisor from Wasdale, is typical of previous winners.

His meandering shaggy dog story describing the exploits of a mythical marine creature who splits its time between the inky waters of Loch Ness and the local Wastwater, the deepest lake in England, shows a local man, acting out a local tradition for the noblest of intentions – because he enjoys it.

Citing his comedy heroes as “Les Dawson, Tommy Cooper and David Cameron” he said: “I want to wake up every day and have a laugh. I lost my sister last year at 57 and it was a really sad time. I’ve raised a lot of money for cancer and I always like to help people.”

Competitive lie telling in the Western Lakes dates back to the 19th century when publican Will Ritson used to entertain intrepid upper class outsiders by spinning them a few yarns, typically about the region’s outsize turnips which he claimed locals used as sheds.

The tradition was rekindled following his death and since then has become a global media phenomenon attracting attention everywhere from the New York Times to Japanese TV.

However it continues to stick defiantly to its roots. Organisers have resisted calls to raise the prize money to £500 or to relocate the event to the relative grandeur of Whitehaven’s Civic Hall.

Judge Gaynor Green said there was little appetite for change. “There is something special about a competition that is so local that attracts attention from all over the world,” she said.

To the untrained ear, the West Cumberland dialect with its twangs of Norse, Scots and English can be difficult. Outsiders have generally struggled. The first “foreigner” to prevail was South African Abrie Krueger in 2003. The only woman to emerge victorious was comedian Sue Perkins who in 2006 regaled the audience with her story about flatulent sheep – “muttons of mass destruction” – and the demise of the ozone layer.

Last year’s winner Jack Harvey, 26, from Whitehaven, is the youngest person to lift the tin cup. This year he was squeezed into third place by seven-time winner Johnny “Liar” Graham.

Mr Harvey’s surreally entertaining untruth about finding himself in a rap contest with John Paul Jones – the American sea captain who pummelled Whitehaven during the revolutionary wars – perhaps failed to chime with an older crowd.

With at least three decades separating him from the rest of the all-male contestants, he agreed that the competition was in need of fresh blood.

“It is something that should be encouraged. People are happy with the way things are. Tradition is OK. Tradition is comfortable. That is fine. But we need to celebrate and encourage diversity. It (the competition) needs to generate the idea that you don’t have to be a 65-year-old man to win,” he said.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

** Female PE Teacher Urgently Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Cover Supervisors Urgently Required In Knowsley **

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

Java developer - (Intershop Enfinity)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Java Developer...

School Office/ Finance Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Ilford: School Office/ Finance Assistant Long t...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album