Honestly, it was this big …

180 Eldergate members, plus a similar number of members of the Grapevine business network, packed into the Tardis-like upper room of the Slug & Lettuce on Monday night for the club’s annual Tall Tales competition and the Grapevine seasonal quiz.

Before the Tall Tale telling, we enjoyed a sumptuous 10 course banquet, specially prepared by Raymond Blanc enjoying a rare night off from his Brasserie at The Hub. The guest of honour was Prince William who stopped off in Milton Keynes on his way home from watching Aston Villa on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, the Prince had checked on progress on the new public house under construction in the west of the city which is to be named ‘The Prince George of Cambridge’, in honour of his son. Well, it makes a change from the Queen Vic.

The Tall Tale tellers were Emmanuel Bolade, Brian Bollen, John Dale, Ty Harvey and Ian Haynes, all introduced by Trisha Page. The Tall Tales timer was Phil Chippendale who was fortunate indeed to survive an early evening encounter with a polar bear.

The wide-ranging subject matter included jumping from planes; ‘a room full of rich Ruperts’ (including Murdoch); ‘penguin bashing’; the dangers of breaking in to your own house; and a South African superhero called Vicus. If you weren’t there, can you match the tale to the teller? If you were there, were you sober enough to remember?

Ty Harvey was deservedly voted best speaker; his prize, a pair of silver plated turtle doves. Well, it is Christmas. The winners of the quiz, set by Grapevine’s Brian Greenwood, were Bonkers United – John Dale, his wife Antonietta, Richard Osman and Tony Fasulo.

The evening concluded with a demonstration of hypnosis by Grapevine member Paul Johnson. While Paul’s assistant, Maria, didn’t quite reach the state of deep relaxation intended, Dave Minzey was seen to nod off in the audience.

So there we are, another entertaining Tall Tales evening accurately recorded for posterity. As the late, great John Martyn used to sing, “half the lies he tells you are not true” – but the question is, which ones?

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