Guess who lies down by the lake, asks Roger Ratcliffe

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I don’t know how many of you have visited Wasdale in the Lake District. It’s perhaps England’s most hallowed place, with apologies to Wembley and Lords. Never mind that this arrow-straight valley turns the drama dial up to 11 with a mighty wall of screes plunging into a long black lake, it famously boasts many of England’s biggest and bests.

Wasdale has the country’s highest peak in Scafell Pike as well as our deepest lake, the sinister-looking Wastwater. It also contains England’s smallest church, tiny St Olaf’s, cowering beneath a huddle of lofty summits at Wasdale Head, and is said to have produced England’s greatest liar.

His name was Will Ritson, a 19th century landlord of the Wasdale Head Inn whose whoppers were legendary, and there’s still an annual competition in the dale to see who can tell the biggest porky and claim Ritson’s title. The 2017 event is scheduled to take place in a couple of weeks’ time, and I would like to make a nomination for the title of what’s grown to become the World’s Biggest Liar contest.

I certainly know who deserves it. (No, not Boris. Even he can’t out-cock-and-bull this guy). But who do you think should be awarded the title of World’s Biggest Liar?

I thought so. We’re in agreement. And as it happens, there is a connection between Donald Trump, current occupant of the White House, and the people who live in remote Wasdale. Bear with me.

Last week, the annual Wasdale Head Show was cancelled because of bad weather for the first time in its 100 year history. Almost 10 inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours, flooding the showground and car park fields. Wasdale Show is among the most eagerly anticipated events in Cumbria, one I’ve enjoyed visiting a couple of times, and I can understand how its cancellation left many heartbroken.

The downpour also caused flooding elsewhere in the Lakes, although nothing like as devastating as those floods resulting from 2015’s Storm Desmond. But it is now dawning on the people of Cumbria and elsewhere in the north that these extreme weather events have become a fact of life.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic the intense storms and hurricanes that recently battered the Caribbean and southern USA are getting more frequent, powerful and destructive. They put tiny Wasdale Head Show’s floods in perspective, for sure, but they are at opposite ends of the scale of increasingly severe consequences of climate change.

That humans are responsible for the global warming that is wreaking such havoc was accepted by the 168 countries that signed the Paris Agreement a couple of years ago and agreed steps to drastically reduce carbon emissions.

Trump, though, intends to pull the USA out of that process. Why? Look no further than Twitter. “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive,” he tweeted. Right, so it’s all a plot by the Chinese to screw American industry. That’s a porky of which old Will Ritson in Wasdale would have been proud, and in recognition of this world-beating lie not only should he wear Ritson’s crown, we should name the next extreme weather event to batter the UK Storm Trump.

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