|How CAMRA volunteers greeted guests at the Great British Beer festival a few years ago.|
There was a welcome but just a teensy bit patronising piece in the FT on Saturday about how the sandals-and-black-socks twattish image of real ale - and CAMRA - is no longer accurate, particularly given that the latter has doubled in size over the last decade. The number of - shall we call them 'characters' - in society has not doubled, meaning that while some of us may still have issues with the organisation in some areas, it is succeeding in reaching out to a broader base of people. (And yes, I know some critics believe people are just joining for the Wetherspoons vouchers, and many join and are not active, but still.)
Next month is CAMRA's 40th anniversary, which is likely to generate a lot more media focus and a lot more debate.
But how's this for an extraordinary acknowledgement of some of the issues CAMRA has, some of the problems people like me have with the way the organisation can sometimes put itself across?
The following is a quote from Michael Hardman, one of the original four founders of CAMRA back in 1971. Talking to the FT last week, what do you possibly think he could mean when he says:
“I must point out that we’re not fighting against anything, we’re fighting for something,” he says, as measured as a well-poured pint. “There may be some members who give a different impression and I apologise to the general drinking public for the fact that we’ve recruited those people.”
Any CAMRA member/activist who agrees with these sentiments from their founder - and I know there are many of you - will find no quarrel with me.
Mr Hardman MBE, next time I see you I owe you a pint.
(Thanks to Glenn Payne for pointing sending me the article.)