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Thursday 17 February 2011

Giving something back...

Cor blimey, you may recall me last month (yes, it has been a while) complaining of being a widow to my dear husbands other love, football. Well, I’ve gotta take it all back as he has been a beer widower on many occasions since that last post. But what is the point of drinking all this beer if there is no time to write about it? (Well, there’s lots of point to drinking beer other than writing about it, but it’s darn frustrating, I can tell you.)

'Volunteering' with the lovely Bill at Pigs Ear 2009
It all started with a fateful night at The Dog and Bell in Depford, when, at a SE London CAMRA branch, fuelled by one too many Rudgate Battleaxes, I agreed to do take over the branch newsletter. All very well and good until less than a week later, after several Ringwood Fortyniners at the Ladywell Tavern, I ended up on the branch’s Beer Festival committee. (May 28th and 29th, Beckenham Rugby Club, by the way. I’ve not been put on publicity for nothing, you know.)
I’ve also been beavering away on pub surveys for the Good Beer Guide- I think I’ve saved up 5 years of branch volunteering and shoved it all into one month. I don't think I can count working at CAMRA festivals working, you are paid in beer!
I know I have some readers who are quite anti- CAMRA (and some who would rather see the whole organisation shoved into a mash tun and left for the enzymes to go to town on.) I agree there are some elements of the St Albans crusade that can be a tad out of date- believe me, of all folks, I would know. On the other hand, this is part of the charm. I love hanging out with the old school dudes at a festival. At Battersea last week, I ran into Malcom who holds me responsible for the fact he has worked at 25 festivals in the last year. (Not as creepy as it sounds- I put him in touch with the staffing officer at Pig’s Ear for his first festival volunteering experience and he’s never looked back). I had a good old natter about stout with Paul, who always wears shorts, and compared festival planning notes with the dude that is John Cryne (fresh off his appearance in the BBC news.)
However, I am all too aware that these festivals can turn as many people off as on. Which is why I get involved.
“We need you- you know cool people!” The festival organiser cried when I said I was too busy.
“You’re mates with the man from the Dean Swift and went to the Kernel Black IPA launch” said another. “You know how to use twitter!”
What persuasion. How can a girl say no?


  1. A few too many of a great deal seems to be doing you no harm at all!

    Good luck with all the global domination which a few 'too many' more seems almost guaranteed to lead you to...

  2. I think I'm on a similar path to you. Having volunteered at my first festival in May, I'm now on the organising committee for another (25/26 March, Winchester, and @WinchBeerFest).

    And, I think I'm going to end up on the branch committee next year as the "you're young, you've got time to do this" lobby takes off just before the AGM in May.

  3. Thanks for youe message, Fishter. My problem is that being young doesn't always mean you have time!

  4. Just be careful, that's all I'm saying. It is possible to enjoy CAMRA festivals and have a nice time. Just don't ever start to think sandals go with socks.

  5. "some readers who are quite anti-CAMRA" ???

    One does wonder if they'd be of the masochist inclination what with spending time self flagellating reading such nice blogs as this one! LOL

    Keep up the good work! :)

  6. Well said! Hooray for you for bringing something positive to the table about CAMRA for a change.

  7. Professor Pie-Tin22 February 2011 at 22:07

    Finally you escape the tyranny of the kitchen sink.

  8. Is that an old-school Dark Star t-shirt? I'm currently undecided on their new merchandise 'rebranding'...

  9. I can help you with publicity for Beckenham Beer Festival - contact Jon Clarke on the local website I run called

    I can set up an events page, email database, add signage to site and tweet to 1200+ Becks residents on Twitter @Beckenham, plus a whole lot more (the day job is head of digital media at ad agency)

    A festival sounds great !!

    Cheers! Jon

  10. Thanks Jon! That's really helpful. I saw that you started to follow the festival on twitter- thanks! I'll be in touch.
    Chris- it is indeed on old skool Dark Star T-shirt, one that I am desperately trying to still fit into!

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