In some ways all this is sad as its a sign of climbing growing up and the "magic" dying. by magic of course mean what seems to be a pattern of blokes who concocted a mystique of superhuman power. A power so magical it could only exist for minutes in the early hours and left the power bearer so exhausted they were all but useless when it came to the photos. Of course DMM and Simmonite didn't know any better but its really only through their photos that the G stepped up from the likes of O' connor and gained notoriety off the back of those pics in the mags.
Things were much more amatuer back then and i think after speaking to them they were both just thankful for the pics, photographers tend to attempt to be neutral whilst essentially helping prove something with film. Imagine if Ray nipped to LPT for photos of Emma nowadays and she couldn't pull on big bang after doing it, never mind emma, we'l lower you off the bolt quickly, hang on for grim death and i'll take a picture of you sagging on the deadpoint and we will make it into a massive poster. It'd never happen nowadays but we were all lapping it up when it came to britains first self belayed 9a+ coincidentally just climbed before Steve did Overshadow pipping him to the record books. I mean its not even doping in that there's not even been any effort put in to superhuman performance whilst fizzing through his eyeballs on HGH etc, its just straight up british apologetic politeness mixed with a really outlandish claim, really top draw stuff which we as Brits can be proud of only as brits could be. In some ways it embodies that we are a very trusting nation. but looking back i'm glad climbing is such a holistic and intangible thing as i can't think of many other sports where the record books for the absolute limits of human performance are so easily tampered with.
Its right that this case clearly has a decent amount of grey in and John was evidently a good climber who did lots of interesting developing and i'm sure that John would've started at the thin end of the wedge of dropping a last move or not quite doing a sitter etc maybe he dabbed a leaf sought forgiveness so he just cracked on. But it clearly developed into repeating Si O's problems tit for tat (Si did do a fast repeat of Isla) and with problems like Shallow groove and attrocity exhibition being very early 2000s theres a good band of grey in there before you get to the WTF shadowplay stuff where he couldn't pull on or describe it after the claim.
I find a few of johns lines in the interview a bit sinister especially when he brags about 8C being an old grade nowadays. And there's likely been an axe thats been ground somewhere. That old interview where he talks about his brother doing the moves on hubble who doesn't climb is an absolute classic.
I'm kind over over it all now anyway and a bit sick of Johns name popping up when really strong climbers get mentioned, that was what set off those posts before really, the man has done literally nothing in 20 years to demonstrate his ability to climb hard. Climbers like Ryan seem to be the complete opposite, he used to get absolutely off his face on a night out and still pulls 8Bs like cypher out the bag going off the intermediate in a session (extras footage in life on hold) I genuinely think Ryans effort on Shallow groove is awesome, it suits him to a tee as midgets can cruise the start but have never done the jump and i feel horribly bunched at the start and really struggle to pull my arse in upto the RH sidepull but I find the jump ok because i'm 6 ft and can deadhang small things. Again this is an issue of crossover but if you look at climbs like monklife and Isla as lumps of rock they are very doable (hence the multiple rpts). Shallow groove has a lot of serious hurdles to pass depending on your body type. If those weren't there it'd have had a lot more ascents but you can't do that top move any other way than jumping off the ledge and so theres a real height cut off on it. Arguably ryan wouldn't have had the vision or been arsed to do the FA so in many ways we've got John to thank there (and you Nige for dragging him out) and that's why this all ends up a bit messy and why i've been reticent to open the can as like it not he's really wood wormed into the history books. It only really matters when records, grades etc are spoken about. as far as just going climbing out at crags then Johns impact has been only a positive one and he certainly spurred on many younger types like myself, i just wish it were all true rather than it all being just a wee bit embarrassing for the credibility of the sport