Tuesday, 4 November 2014

I've Got a Bonneville in Bits, But I'm Gonna Sort It Out

I want Dave the Barman to refer me to the blackboard
My CAMRA membership renewed itself by Direct Debit this week.  After two years, I've progressed far up the hierarchy.  They've finally given me a membership card which you can't scratch the letters off.  Is this official policy?  It seems so.

A lot of my readers here will be asking "Why are you still in the Beard Club? Don't you slag them off and take the piss out of them on a regular basis?"  Well, yes I do.  But I do that with everyone.  Leaving aside the Spoons tokens, the discounts and the magazine, the membership fee is worth the comedy value of What's Brewing alone.  The letters page and Keg Buster are almost Daliesque in their absurdity.

I am however awaiting one thing.  The people that run CAMRA Central Lancs said a while back that they'd be contacting every member in the branch to see if they want to contribute anything  (or as they put it in a somewhat dystopian way, 'activate' them).  I did email them myself in August offering my services  as "Ale Cry" cartoonist, but have yet to be contacted for either of these. I can only assume they've read my unflattering depictions of their views and activities on this blog.
You don't say.  You DON'T say.
One person who defended CAMRA to me last year, when I asked what the point of them was these days, has since cancelled his membership, saying he can't stomach giving money to such a backward and sexist organisation any more.  He even tweeted to me  "You're just a number to them , Mr. 416490".  I wouldn't go that far, and I think it's just about worth what I have to put in as a member.  You'll never see me at the Committee Meeting down at the Stanley Arms on Lancaster Road or going on the minibus with the Branch Social to a pub crawl in Accrington, but being a member does as least say you're interested in half-decent beer.  Not being a stereotypical CAMRA Man helps deflect any of the jokes.  I knew there was something good about being an inappropriate paisley-shirted wanker.

CAMRA isn't perfect.  Nothing is.  Not even 'progressive' Evil Keg brewers.  People should be, in such an essentially trivial thing as beer fandom, able to get what they want out of it and discard the rest.

It's only beer, after all


  1. Most of the people who "slag them off and take the piss out of them on a regular basis" actually turn out to be members ;-)

  2. My direct debit cancellation was due to no longer wanting to contribute £ to an organisation that doesn't reflect my own views and spends my £ on things I'm strongly against spending them on.

    CAMRA are not "bad" per se... we just don't quite see eye to eye on some matters and our priorities are verging ever further apart it seems. (There are a lot of items to file under this... I've written about most of them in the past.)

    There are plenty of positives within CAMRA, especially at a local level in my area. And I am thankful to elements within CAMRA for all that I have learnt through them. (A hell of a lot... especially my full week of cellar/bar/event management training at GBBF.) It was only this feeling of debt that had me hold on this extra year.

    Cask ale still needs campaigning for and sometimes I wish CAMRA would just get back to basics on this. There are a lot of really crap pints of beer being served. Cask ale volume may be on the rise but as far as I can see cask ale quality is actually on the decrease as more and more pubs who don't have half a friggin' clue start serving it is greater volume.

    Nothing is final... CAMRA may change and I may continue to contribute in future. But for the immediate future I think my time and money can be better invested elsewhere for the overall good of great beer (in my opinion of 'good' and 'great beer' of course).

    I don't really think much has changed in my own views since I wrote my "defence" of CAMRA that you link to. There are still several points I'd defend CAMRA on, and I'd still defend the concept on CAMRA in general. But I'll happy _offend_ CAMRA HQ, repeatedly, with a pointy stick.

    [Fix your commenting... I *HATE* using a Google account to comment on blhargs...]