Mrs RM and I took joint life CAMRA membership 20 odd years ago, even before the Spoons vouchers kicked in, and despite believing that beer festivals are the devil’s work.

I don’t really care about the odd 10p discount you get in pubs that trade profit for Beer Guide inclusion, but I’ll take when I’m outed as a defender of the cask faith.

In Pursuit of Hoppiness in Bridport (a certain pre-emptive tick if ever I saw one), the Old Boys were bemoaning their lack of a CAMRA card.

“I’ve got one”, I said, to the dungareed barmaid, ordering my pint of Bedlam.

But she still charged me £3.60, full price. That 10p rankles, it really does.

Terrific micro/craft bar though, with the oddest hipsters outside Levenshulme and great banter.

I blame the Egyptians

Course you do.

And a soundtrack of Nick Drake and Tom Waits. But not the hits.

But that 10p still hurts.

36 thoughts on “FLASHING THE GOLD CARD

    1. Is the problem the absence of tight sparklers or fear that the beer might be on a cask breather ?
      I have good memories of a trip round Palmers Brewery, staying in their Angel at Lyne Regis and a great evening on the Tally Ho in the Ropemakers at Bridport.


      1. The problem the locals (Bridport area) have is the Palmer families voracity at buying up local property, especially pubs and then closing them. The problem I have is that unless they are selling it then their beer soon turns into mediocrity. The Ropemakers is probably the best pint ever of Palmers I have ever had and the Tally Ho is lovely. So is the brewery, never been round but I’ve walked past the back of it so many times and watched the water wheel turning.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. They might not like what they wish for.
      If Palmers brewery closed down,the pubs they had would no doubt be taken over by a crap pub co or large brewery,then you would see Doom Bar,GK IPA and if your lucky Pedigree on the bar,i know what i would prefer.
      I was lucky enough to have Shipstones, Home Ales, Kimberley and Mansfield brewery tied houses to go in when i was younger, all now closed down.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Fair comment Alan.

        Tied houses, is that where it all went wrong? Mind you, and each to their own, I’m a big fan of the modern brews that are coming out and tied houses would not have allowed that.


      2. I can see both sides. The micro place opposite the Spoons has great beer range, but I preferred to drink the local beer at source. Mrs RM thought the Palmers 200 was great.


  1. When I was still young enough for Life Membership to be worth my while, I was strapped for cash – child just arrived and Mrs PBT’s recently given up work. A pity, as I could really have got my money’s worth out of CAMRA, instead of it being the other way round!


    1. Think our Life membership was £230 when jt membership about £15; we must have placed a high value on the Kegbuster cartoons and early entry to Cambridge Beer Fest back then…
      Only a decade since the Spoons vouchers made it a no-brainer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. General Galtieri got me working extra hours in 1982 and that paid for my CAMRA life membership, so that’s 36 years so far.
        I never expect any discount in pubs from it but the Dorbiere pub near me gives a 30p discount, so that’s from £3.10 to £2.80, and a “Buy nine pints, Get one free” card effectively gets it down to £2.43 – so with both cards it’s about a 22% discount.


  2. ““I blame the Egyptians””

    It’s because of the way they walk, innit? (classic song title hidden in there) 😉

    “In Pursuit of Hoppiness in Bridport (a certain pre-emptive tick if ever I saw one),”

    Well, if they’re not going to give you the 10p off then they can stay a pre-emptive tick for a bloody long time. 🙂

    And what kind of a name if Bridport? I keep reading it as Bridgeport.*


    * – Ah. Just read Wiki. It’s on the river Brit. 😉


      1. ““I blame… the Egyptians” by the Bongles. Second hit after “Mimic Tuesday”.”

        (slow golf clap)

        Well done, sir! 🙂


  3. I was delighted to spot someone waving a card in the Harp in Covent Garden, I think it’s 10% for the faithful though my maths was probably a bit suspect by that point.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I paid a mere £70 for my life membership back in the late 80s – it was being specially promoted before it went up to £90. At that time it was ten times the annual subscription, but of course interest rates were much higher than they are now.

    Mind you, if I costed up all the unpaid work I’ve done for CAMRA over the years at minimum wage it would come to tens of thousands of pounds.

    I don’t tend to attend beer festivals as a customer, and I give most of my Spoons tokens away, so it can’t be said I derive much financial benefit from it.

    A friend at the time said that he would never take out life membership as it meant he wouldn’t be able to deprive the organisation of income by not renewing if it went in a direction he disapproved of.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I presume I get the Beer Guide cheaper as well, that’s a few quid each year. But mainly it’s all about the joy of supporting an organisation that berates my favourite breweries for being too big and efficient.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I signed up for life membership in 1984, a few months after the scheme was introduced. It was one of several measures to try to reverse the potential financial crisis caused by declining membership at the time. I was on the local branch and regional committees and still have some figures showing the number of members falling from over 19,000 in 1981 to a low of 16,700 in mid 1984. By the end of 1984 membership was picking up again but the life figure was only 68 at that time. From 1985 membership picked up, but quite slowly.

    My concern in signing up for life was actually whether CAMRA could survive for the ten years needed to recoup my subscription. If I hadn’t been ‘active’ at the time and made a number of friends through CAMRA, I probably wouldn’t have taken the risk.

    I’m not sure that people join for pub discounts – one or two local pubs offer them but don’t really advertise the fact in the pub, although if the idea is to help them into the GBG then they no doubt publicise the discount to the local branch. I suspect that beer festival discounts are more important to new members given that many will join at a festival – the listings in What’s Brewing indicate that sometimes quite large discounts can be had. I don’t know what proportion of festival-goers are members, but wonder if some of the fall in festival revenue reported recently is down to a greater proportion of attendees being members?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An organisation sets its life membership rate as it sees fit and maybe CAMRA set it at just ten times life because there were doubts how long it would survive or as a bargain with the number of members then falling.
      It’s a bit of a gamble, for the organisation having a life member living another third of a century or for the life member dropping dead or wanting to resign within a year.
      I thought I became a lifer in 1982 but now realise it was later than that as the newest of my annual cards expired on 31 December 1983.


      1. Oh, and the earliest CAMRA membership cards weren’t numbered.
        Renumbering in the early 1980s gave Mr Aardvark and others with early alphabetic names impressively low membership numbers !

        Liked by 1 person

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