Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Outbreak of sobriety

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.


  1. CAMRA is to be congratulated on embracing greater responsibility but needs to do more.
    How about:

    No activity in dry January.
    3 unit limit at all beer festivals & activities.
    Drunks disciplined and barred.

  2. I think it is mostly down to getting older.

    PS Cookie is my dry January proxy. No slabs of lager for me this month.

  3. It's definitely an age thing, but the branch meetings you recount Curmudgeon, certainly sound a lot more interesting,(and raucous) than the ones I remember!

    ps. I actually thought the first CAMRA meeting I attended very restrained and, if I'm honest, more than a little boring!

  4. Back in 1973, CAMRA banned drinking at National Executive meetings because everyone got aggressive and punchy and they couldn't get through the agenda.

    We reckon the 'responsible drinking' thing can be traced, at least in part, to the need to convince local authorities that CAMRA festivals (i.e. Covent Garden in 1975) wouldn't be 'debauched' -- a 'different kind of drinking'.

  5. It is a social thing as well, though, as the young 'uns (such as they are) aren't jugging it back either, and back in the 80s some of those who did were a fair bit older than I was.

    Thirty years ago, six or seven pints on a school night with two at last orders was a lot more normal than it is now.

  6. Oh for heavens sake Mudgie,how on earth could a CAMRA ensemble ever
    be a night to remember.?
    Nothing wrong with the concept of
    fighting for real ale,with that I fully agree,but,just look at some of the trotters who jumped onboard the bandwagon,their silence amplified when pubs started to close in their thousands,as long as their ivy covered taverns remained cozy .

    Waiting for the richochet

  7. 9 pints on a school night? Jesus wept. 9 pints is more than you need in a week.

  8. What I meant was six or seven pints including the two at last orders. What do you think we were, problem drinkers or something?

  9. Even 7 pints of 4% is 14 units.

    The womens weekly limit.

    1 unit off 5x a mans daily unit limit.

    Jesus wept.

    All I can say is that from your description CAMRA has changed for the better and going in the right direction. After all, CAMRA members are discerning. They do not drink to get drunk. They drink for the taste. You can get all the taste you need in 3 halves of mild or 2 halves of something stronger.

  10. I'm just amazed where people found the time, not to mention the money.

  11. The time taken up was no more than today - indeed today there are probably more events overall so it could be argued that people are spreading their drinking more thinly rather than doing less in total.

    And drinking six pints two nights a week isn't exactly going to break the bank for most people.

  12. It was 14p a pint or summat back then, pyo.

    and sky telly, playstations and internet porn had not been invented so if you didn't go in pubs your choice was wife swapping or watching 321.

  13. In those days the beer went down a lot easier when you could smoke with your pint in a nice warm place.

  14. Lord Egbert Nobacon16 January 2014 at 10:05

    Last night,being midweek,I called it a day after my third pint of Guinness.Just didn't fancy another drink.
    Three decades ago, on a mad weekend trip to Dublin, I drank 32 pints of Guiness in a session that started at 8am on the Saturday morning and finished at 4am on Sunday.
    Your right Mudgie old cock, it's called getting old.

  15. It's interesting to note that the original English founders of CAMRA were strong SWP. They are still involved, and rather wealthy,which must be playing havoc with their fragile consciences.


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