While working at the Liverpool Beer Festival, Ken and Carol of Wigan CAMRA and Doug, of my own CAMRA branch, were questioned about my previous post, The Pieman and The Liver Bird, which contrasted Liverpool and Wigan beer festivals. Ken was asked whether he'd put me up to it, and Doug was so taken aback by what he was being told I'd written that he went and read it for himself. He later said to me he didn't think it was that bad, and of course it isn't: there is no personal abuse, and the most that can be said about it is that Liverpool branch and I have different ideas about how beer festivals should be run. For the record, it was all my own work and when I wrote it, I never expected the overreaction that has ensued.
Since then, I've come across a spoof of Mersey Ale (Liverpool CAMRA's magazine), called MerZoeAle, full of pictures of a young woman who works in the Dispensary and who has appeared many times in the mag or on its cover. It's simply a skit at Mersey Ale's tendency to print pictures of attractive young women, which I know doesn't please some of the women members of Liverpool branch. I understand Zoe herself, an intelligent young woman who is genuinely enthusiastic about real ale, had no part in the spoof.
Because of what I wrote about Liverpool festival, I have been asked by more than one person whether I had a hand in MerZoeAle. This post is to set the record straight: it was nothing to do with me, and I haven't a clue who was behind it. All I'd say is that if you make yourself into a target, sooner or later someone will take a pot shot at you!
One or two people in Southport have pointed out Mersey Ale to me and suggested that I do the same and put pictures of attractive young barmaids on the front of Ale & Hearty, our Southport CAMRA mag. My answer is no - we want to attract women to CAMRA, not reinforce stereotypes of it being a LAD's organisation!
While on the subject of Ale & Hearty, I have been harangued by no fewer than three former chairs of CAMRA Southport and District Branch for a decision that I made when I became editor, which was to remove the old Southport Corporation coat of arms from the cover. My reason was simply because the Branch now covers a large part of West Lancashire for whom the coat of arms has no relevance - I don't want those areas to think CAMRA sees them merely as an appendage of Southport. However, one shouldn't lightly dismiss criticism from such distinguished sources, so I asked them when they had noticed it had gone, and they told me it was when they read my report to the AGM last month - by which time two issues had been published without it. In other words, they hadn't noticed until I told them myself ~ so much for it being a cherished symbol of our heritage.
Joni Mitchell sang, "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got til it's gone." Or, in this case, until someone tells you it's gone 5 months after the event!