Something I was discussing the other night was how CAMRA meetings and events have become markedly less boozy over the years. I’ve been an active member to a greater or lesser degree of the local CAMRA branch for nearly thirty years now. In the early days, there were at least a couple of active members who were what might be described as “functioning alcoholics”, and another who was more of a “barely functioning alcoholic”, and is probably no longer with us, poor sod. Several more, while not falling into that category, could certainly put it back in large quantities. Meetings would often drag on until chucking-out time and be punctuated with passionate, alcohol-fuelled arguments, while doubling-up was far from uncommon at last orders.
Nowadays, it’s all different. Halves are much more in evidence, and once the formal business of a meeting has been completed (often now before 10 pm), or an award presented, people start drifting off well before closing time. The level of acrimony is much reduced, and obvious inebriation is far rarer. Where once a twelve-pub crawl was par for the course, now people complain that more than six is a bit daunting - and that’s mostly on halves.
Partly it’s because the average age has considerably increased, so people are naturally less inclined to overdo it. But it also reflects the change in society where the man who in 1984 could hold his beer has become 2014’s pisshead. Jugging it back, even on rare occasions, is far less socially acceptable than it once was.
Of course it could be argued that it shows how positively CAMRA has embraced the culture of responsible drinking.