Johnny Dawes - Full of myself.
I first met Johnny Dawes over 25 years ago. It was a chance meeting at a cliff called Millstone Edge in the Derbyshire Peak District of England, where we were both climbing on a beautiful summers evening. I say climbing, I was climbing, Johnny was doing something far more dynamic! Over the next few months I bumped in to Johnny a lot on the short Gritstone outcrops of Derbyshire and Staffordshire and on the larger cliffs in North Wales. On one occasion we even gave Mr.Dawes a lift as his car was temporarily out of action, he'd rolled it while negotiating a "tight hairpin" Legend!
About 3 years ago whispers started to emerge in the Sheffield climbing scene that Johnny was writing a book about his life, I initially took it with a pinch of Salt, I'd heard similar rumours before. In the interim Jerry Moffatt, perhaps Britain’s most famous rock climber released his autobiography, everybody loved it. Then a year later another legend of British rock climbing "Big" Ron Fawcett released a book, I was in nostalgic climbing nirvana, Ron was my all time hero - come on JD what are you playing at? The Jerry, Ron, Johnny triumvirate needs to be completed - Nothing.
A year later I was on a trip to a small Scottish Island in the Outer Hebrides called Pabbay, part of the team was Steve McClure, Britain’s best rock climber. One night we were all huddled round the stove waiting for dinner to finish cooking and he pulled out some crumpled sheets of paper and started to read them. “What you reading Ste” I asked, “Johnny’s life story” he answered with a wry smile, bloody hell gold dust! The pages got passed around and after an hour or so of “pass the paper” everyone agreed it was dynamite.
Fast forward to the summer of 2011 and I bump into a long term friend and designer Al Williams who, as it turns out has been working very closely with Johnny pulling the book together ready for print, hearing this got me really excited, it wasn’t just rumours anymore, it was fact. A month later my phone buzzed, txt message. It was from the great, little man himself, Johnny Dawes, asking me if he could use one of my photos in his book. Years before, way back in 1986 Johnny had climbed a route called Slab and Crack E8 6c, which was, and still is pretty cutting edge and he wanted to write about it, but didn’t have any photos to include. Some 22 years later Lucy Creamer became the first British woman to climb a Gritstone route of this grade with her ascent and I was there taking the photos - Of course you can have some photos Johnny, I'd be honoured, It's not everyday you get the opportunity to contribute to one of your very own hero's books, bring it on.
To cut a long story short said photo was dually dispatched and a couple of months later JD turned up at the house with a copy of his newly printed book “Full of myself” what a great title.
Here are a couple of pages from the finished book, with my image of Lucy on the right. - I'm chuffed to say the least, looks good doesn't it?
For anyone who knows Johnny the book is a “blast into the past” for those that only know him by reputation it’s a glimpse into the workings of a genius and for anyone wanting a “rip roaring read” straight out of “Boys own” but with a slightly dysfunctional twist to it, it'll hook you and pull you slowly but surely all the way in.
You won't be able to put it down, garunteed.