|Who is the owner of this strange, foreign sounding name, and what does he do? Dafydd Manton is a photographer and writer, based nowadays in Sheffield, but having lived in such disparate places as London, Surrey, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Berlin and Lincoln. He also lived in a place called Celle, in Germany, which hardly anybody in Britain has ever heard of, but which is just outside Hannover, and was the birth place of various antecedents of our Royal Family. Dafydd is singularly unroyal, and has never even worn a crown, except for a paper one, which doesn't really count. He has an eye for the odd, the unusual, the quirky, the slightly off the wall, anything that might well raise a small smile. Unlike many of those who have taken images of Sheffield, or indeed anywhere in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire, he avoids the depressing views of derelict housing, abandoned factories, ruins of the Industrial Revolution and so forth that seem to be so fashionable, on the grounds that there is quite enough to be miserable about, and if you fancy a good old wallow in the Slough of Despond, either turn on the news, pick up any newspaper or look out the resident bore in your local pub. He is the one that is too busy propping up the bar to waste his time on running the country, which is what he is so eminently qualified to do.
Dafydd has produced several books featuring his adopted City of Sheffield, concentrating not just on the unusual sights in South Yorkshire's premier town, but he has also tried to create a social history of Steel City from an amusing viewpoint. He also has a passion for the disappearing Art of Pub signs, and has begun a series of books entitled Ale and Arty in...... , showing not the buildings, but the signs adorning them. This is with the aim of preserving some of the area's pub art before either the pubs disappear, or a Faceless Bureaucrat (which sounds like the name of a Wine Bar somewhere in the south of England) removes the sign and has it replaced with some bland rectangle of artificial wood bearing the name of the 'Family Tavern' in flowing script, the Corporate Fasces of the chain (a restraining device much favoured by torturers and dungeon-masters) that owns it, and which has as much character as a foggy Sunday morning in Milton Keynes. So far, he has covered most of Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derbyshire and much of the Peak District. His original idea was to sample a pint in each of the pubs photographed, currently a good few hundred, but for some inexplicable reason, his wife Anwen put her foot down with a firm hand, and he has been restricted to the odd glass of lemonade, except when on holiday.
As well as being an imaginative photographer, he is also a writer, and has created the laconic Binky, the 11th Earl de Gotnote, who describes himself as Yorkshire's Last Remaining Aristocrat. (Disagree at Your Peril). Binky, real name Brancaster, was a noted man of letters, some of them joined up,whose correspondence with the world at large is wonderfully funny, indignant, outraged and sometimes outrageous, though never vulgar, moving, thought provoking, but never, ever ordinary.The Revered Peer exchanged letters with Americans,Canadians, Germans and even several Scots. His home is de Gotnote Towers, from where he fulminates at a world that sometimes confused him, sometimes annoyed and iirritated him but never defeated him.The de Gotnote books are lavishly illustrated by the aforementioned Anwen, who is described by the author as 'The Boss' (note the capitals), and who is a skilled cartoonist.
Latest Book by Manton, Dafydd
9781906722005, Ale and Arty in Sheffield: The Disappearing Art of Pub Signs