50 CHEERS FOR CAMRA !

I thought I ought to say a few words about CAMRA’s 50th birthday, but frankly Pub Curmudgeon summed it up better than I ever could.

That February post contrasts CAMRA’s success as a mass membership organisation (with good brand awareness among the general public), with a blurring of focus over the years. It also contains this classic line;

Nudists are another example of a puritan formation that you have to look more closely at to see it.

I joined CAMRA with Mrs RM in 1994, our life membership giving us priority (and discounted/free) access to the Cambridge Beer Festival and the joys of the Beer Guide, as well as a sense of belonging to an organisation of like-minded souls with an interest in microbreweries and the preservation of the 19th century.

But I quickly realised I don’t like beer festivals, forced to stand in drafty halls and drink thirds, I just want pubs. And I didn’t much care if the pubs had one pump instead of ten. Or whether the beer was one I hadn’t had before.

So I’ve never gone to branch meetings, except to observe GBG selection, which has been an exemplar compared to many meetings in my NHS career.

They also served who only went to pubs, drank pints, and scored them on WhatPub” as the saying goes.

There’s some very good people in CAMRA, and the work done by volunteers to produce local books, re-opening maps, and Pub Heritage Guides is to be cherished.

Ultimately, it’s the Beer Guide that is the reason we need CAMRA.

Boak and Bailey have noted the importance of getting a printed guide to good pubs out in the early years.

The ongoing debate on Discourse about whether or not we should even publish a GBG in our Covid-hit 50th year highlighted the affection this wonderful, enduring publication holds among members young and old.

And not just among the tickers.

Happy Birthday, CAMRA.

33 thoughts on “50 CHEERS FOR CAMRA !

  1. Is there any other nationwide organisation that campaigns for the interests of pubs and pub goers? There will always be aspects of an organisation that I disagree with (unless it is team Morten – the organisation of one), but if I’m unhappy I can always join a local branch and have my voice heard there.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thought you might be interested in my actual spam today;

        “What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable knowledge regarding unpredicted emotions.” writes ProfoundBond.

        What CAN it mean ?

        Like

      2. This was good, too;

        Padrón de Importadores, cumplimiento y requerimientos
        Para poder realizar operaciones de comercio exterior
        uno de los requisitos más importantes con que se debe cumplir
        es estar registrado y formar parte del Padrón de Importadores,
        ya que de lo contrario será imposible poder importar mercancía para introducirla a México.

        Like

    1. A few years ago, CAMRA played a part in setting up Drinkers’ Voice, but for whatever reason that died a death. The drinks industry is plagued by internecine squabbling and is never able to present a united front against the public health lobby, who are therefore able to play divide and rule.

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      1. Willing to be convinced otherwise, but the Campaign for Pubs has always come across as essentially a Campaign Against Pubcos, which isn’t remotely the same thing.

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      2. I get your point Mudge, and pubco lessees certainly need a voice, but it’s definitely more than that. And it is early days. From my point of view, as a new volunteer, it’s about all independent pub operators and their pubs, regardless of who owns the bricks and mortar. Not so much about big managed chains though. They can and do look after themselves, often to the detriment of the rest of the trade.

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  2. I celebrated the 50th milestone by accidentally cancelling the wrong DD and un-joining after several decades of varyingly active membership. Trouble is I just can’t get enthusiastic about rejoining.

    Similarly I was delighted when our local Leicester foodie blogger bagged the job of chronicling those 50 years in her first book, without ever intending to buy it.

    I’ve drifted so far away from any interest in beer, beer festivals, CAMRA’s woeful cider and perry ideas, micropubs, beer exhibition pubs, lobbying for things that never seem to help pubs, ‘CAMRA’ , that I can’t see a reason to rejoin.

    It doesn’t help that I’ve long had the feeling that CAMRA see and tacitly accept that pubs are in managed decline, and that that’s ok as long as more mind-bogglingly dull brewery tap rooms and beer-focussed micropubs open. The pubs I love are not, by and large, populated by beer geeks and CAMRA activists.

    I think this may be the end of an occasionally beautiful long-term relationship…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you there (The Real) Mark. I cancelled my subscription at the end of 2019, ending 45 years of un-broken membership. It was fun whilst it lasted, but like all good things, came to an eventual end.

      I don’t regret my decision and am proud to have been an active member for most of those 45 years. CAMRA achieved far more than its founders could ever have imagined, and it’s sad that what should be a year of celebration, will be muted by the continuance of restrictions due to Covid-19.

      Whether the campaign will bounce back, once these are lifted, remains to be seen, but sadly I somehow think not. Kentish Paul.

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  3. I’ve just become the (volunteer) North East representative for the Campaign for Pubs. I think it’s a worthy cause and far removed from Beer Club who prefer to tell pubs and breweries how to run their businesses under the guise of support. https://campaignforpubs.org.uk/

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “the preservation of the 19th century.” –Had a good chuckle at this!

    I find myself wanting to stick up for ol’ CAMRA, probably because all I ever seem to see is people griping about it. I mean, really they deserve unstinting praise for publishing the GBG at least, for without it we might well be deprived of your blog– and I simply refuse to live in such a world!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You said it yourself daddio, it’s ol’ CAMRA. The kids want cans, sipped in their underpants watching Sci-Fi on Netflix. Or is that the CAMRAs.

      Joking of course. I hope I gave the CAMRA branches sufficient praise, Mark, I always compliment the folk who compile the Guide and WhatPub. My local Sheffield branch are doing an heroic job promoting their pubs too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry, Martin, I should have clarified I certainly didn’t mean to include you as one of the people griping about CAMRA. It’s more comments I’ve seen elsewhere; probably evidence of “familiarity breeds contempt” really. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I did realise that, Mark ! You’re picking up on a lot of moaning about CAMRA I see too. I do joke about the obsession with beer festivals but some folk just like beer festivals and not pubs, oddly. Bit like some people like cooking.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oops. I’m on the settee, not quite in shreddies, drinking a can of Full Circle Dooper, watching Netflix.

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      4. “The kids want cans, sipped in their underpants watching Sci-Fi on Netflix. ”

        Who in their right mind wants to sip out of a can that they’ve wrapped their underpants around? 😉

        Cheers

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m reminded of thirteen friends I’ve known through CAMRA whose funerals I’ve attended and that makes me realise there’s not many Old Times left now.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. CAMRA has certainly changed from the young persons organisation it was when I first joined, back in the mid- 1970’s. I’m sure you must feel the same, Stafford Mudgie.

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  6. well I for one was happy to raise a glass of bottle conditioned ale 🙂 to CAMRAs 50th, Id have liked to have been in a good beer guide pub to do it with a proper cask conditioned beer, maybe even a former CAMRA champion beer at that. But if the last year might have taught us anything it ought to be being more thankful for things we took for granted before,and maybe too many people just take what CAMRA does or is for granted. I dont think you get to 50 years as an organisation without completely tearing yourself apart at some point, as so many organisations seem to do, unless you are doing things the members, young and old, actually do want & support.

    So heres to plenty more years of CAMRA and good beer guides and beer festivals to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hear hear.

      I was never a member, but I’d like to say thank you very much everyone and well done. And to those who enjoy beer festivals and the rest, may you have many more.

      Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. “but frankly Pub Curmudgeon summed it up better than I ever could.”

    Yup.

    And, word has it, almost any organisation will decline in some way over the years.

    “Nudists are another example of a puritan formation that you have to look more closely at to see it.“

    No comment. 🙂

    “I just want pubs”

    Well done you good sir.

    “So I’ve never gone to branch meetings, except to observe GBG selection, which has been an exemplar compared to many meetings in my NHS career.”

    (slow golf clap)

    ““They also served who only went to pubs, drank pints, and scored them on WhatPub” as the saying goes.”

    Milton would be proud. 🙂

    “and Pub Heritage Guides is to be cherished.”

    That map below reminds me. You live in a fairly nice neighbourhood:

    https://crimerate.co.uk/sheffield

    “Boak and Bailey have noted the importance of getting a printed guide to good pubs out in the early years.”

    As long as there’s no references to Dr. Suess or Pepé Le Pew. 😉

    “The ongoing debate on Discourse about whether or not we should even publish a GBG in our Covid-hit 50th year highlighted the affection this wonderful, enduring publication holds among members young and old.”

    Surely some sort of guide should be published. You don’t want another 1975 do you!

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Joining in 1994 makes you a bit of a latecomer – I signed up in 1984 and was one of the first life members with number LM16 in the days when there was a separate membership series. I originally joined in 1981 and might have done before that but a couple of factors put me off at the time.

    The LM scheme was actually in response to a looming financial crisis prompted by a fall in membership during the early 80s and threatening the survival of CAMRA – collecting ten years subscriptions in one go was a risk but eventually paid off. I’ve only got some fragmentary records but another measure was to phase out Standing Order payments, which seem to have attracted a significant discount, and offer Direct Debits instead with a lower discount. There were others which I don’t remember but all told, and with a gradual recruitment pickup in the 1980s, CAMRA was saved. .

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    1. Ian,
      I think the problem CAMRA had for many many years was that members wouldn’t cancel a Standing Order for £4 and replace it with a Direct Debit for £10.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Neither would I, but it does raise the question of why their membership was allowed to continue if they weren’t paying the full amount?

        Like

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