Tuesday 31 May 2011

Lancs Pub and Club of the Year

The Swan With Two Necks
I've just learnt who the CAMRA Pub of the Year and Club of the Year (known respectively in CAMRA circles as POTY and COTY) for all Lancashire are:

Þ Pub of the YearSwan with Two Necks, Pendleton, Clitheroe, BB7 1PT
Þ Club of the Year – Farmers’ Club, Burscough Street, Ormskirk.

I've not been to either, even though I lived for a while in Aughton, near Ormskirk.  Perhaps my fellow blogger, the Ormskirk Baron, has information on the Farmers Club?  It looks very impressive - you can see a picture of it here.  I must try to get there, perhaps for the presentation.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Are you any good?

You get strange reactions sometimes when people find out that you play guitar. "Are you any good?" is a common one; how are you supposed to answer that?  I used to get flustered and start saying, "Well, not really, I'm not too bad" and so on, until a friend told me that I should always say, "Absolutely fantastic!"  So I tried that, but it tends to bring conversations to a juddering halt. 

Playing in the Mason's Arms with Rich Simcock.
On one occasion when I was playing in a pub session and was the only guitarist among the musicians, a young lad said to me, "You're not very good, are you?"  So I held out my guitar and asked him to show me how it's done.  "I can't play!" he replied.  On another occasion, a woman told me that I wasn't as good as her son.  "Where can I see him play?" I asked.  "Oh, he only plays in his bedroom, but he's very good", she answered.  I have a vision of a long-haired youth sitting on his bed playing scales and solos with 100 notes per minute, but never actually getting a band together and going out and doing it.

Playing to an audience is what it's about.  I've known many singers and guitarists over the years, and I have noticed that the ones who don't perform in public, who only play for themselves at home, tend not to keep it up in the long run.  Sometimes they have been better than me, but it's not a question of skill.  By "play in public", I don't necessarily mean paid bookings; there are open mike nights, pub sessions, singarounds and folk clubs where people can play, or even just playing to your mates.  If you're serious about wanting to play, at some point you have to leave the comfort zone of your bedroom or kitchen.

I don't let people like that young lad or the doting mum bother me; it would be easy to be offended, but what's the point?  At Whitby folk week, I once arrived at a pub early for a singaround and the juke box was still on.  I lifted my guitar out, noticed there was a really simple three-chord boy band song playing and strummed along to it.  In hushed tones the people at the next table said, "Look, he's playing along to the song on the juke box!"  At least, it made up for the critics!

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Last Drop in Ulverston

I've read on Tandleman's beer blog a post about his bottles of the last brews from Higsons Brewery in Liverpool and Greenalls Brewery in Warrington.  He's included a picture of the two bottles concerned, so you can see the old trade marks (the Greenall's trade mark was particularly attractive, unlike the beers which were decidedly mediocre).

The only such bottle I have is from Hartley's Brewery in Ulverston, named, as these often are, the Last Drop.  The difference with this one is that it wasn't produced by the brewery, but by CAMRA who bought one of the last casks to be brewed in Ulverston and bottled it themselves.  Word got around about the bottles of Last Drop, and people started phoning the brewery, who of course knew nothing about them at all. 

Hartley's had been taken over by Robinson's of Stockport, who eventually closed down the brewery in November 1991 - no surprises there - but retained the pubs and the brands, which are brewed in Stockport to this day.

This bottle, numbered 88/100, was given to me  by Graham Donning, now organiser of the National Winter Ales Festival, but at that time organiser of the Ulverston Beer Festival, which I worked at for more than 15 years.  It's a nice souvenir of some good times.

Monday 23 May 2011

Guest beers and the Guest House

Guest House and rainbow
Following my post on 18 May about Southport Brewery beer being a guest ale in Parliament, our local paper, the Southport Visiter, had an item about local pubs not being allowed to sell it because of the beer tie imposed on pubs by PubCos.  It says, "Just two Southport free houses, the Barons Bar and the Guest House, and the Inn Beer Shop on Lord Street, are able to stock brewer Paul Bardsley's ales."  The mistake in the article, that the Guest House is a free house (it's actually a Scottish and Newcastle tenancy), had me wondering how many licencees had actually asked whether they could stock it.  I'd guess the answer is very few.

Where pubs sell a limited range of beers, are we right to assume that it is the dead hand of the PubCo at work without first checking whether the pubs had made any attempt to broaden their range?  If their customers are content with what they serve, why should they bother to take a chance by stocking different beers?  The beer tie is certainly restrictive and, in my opinion, contrary to the principle of a free market economy, but I'm now less certain that it is the sole cause of restricted choice in pubs, seeing that the Guest House is a tied house with one of the best beer ranges in Southport.  Could others do the same?  Do they actually want to?

Sunday 22 May 2011

Mostly Autumn at Bury Met

Mostly Autumn in action
I went to a great concert last night at the Bury Met:  Mostly Autumn, whom I've never seen live before, although I've got a couple of their CDs.  I met some friends there that I used to work with in Norris Green in Liverpool;  I'd not seen them for a couple of years, so it was a pity I was driving, as a few reunion drinks would have gone down well.

I suppose you could call Mostly Autumn classic rock, some people call them progressive rock, but they're not a covers band.  There are hints of Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull, but mainly it's their own sound, with varied tones from quiet piano-led songs to anthemic rock ballads, and equally varied subject matter.  Although they can rock out, they don't play heavy metal

It's a seven piece band:  five men and two women, with guitarist Bryan and singer Olivia sharing lead vocal duties, although more falls to her.  Anne-Marie sings backing vocals, plays keyboards and flute, and has a couple of flute solos, which is a bit unusual.  The rest of the band consists of the usual two guitars, bass and drums.  They were well-received by an enthusiastic audience, with most of them more familiar with the material than I was.  They played for more than two and a half hours, not including the short break they took half way.  If you like good classic rock and you notice this outfit playing, give them a go.  I feel that if they'd been around 25 years ago, they'd have been massive, but as their style of music isn't currently fashionable, you can see them for £15.

I worked at the Bury beer festival in the Met every year for about 15 years, but this is the first time I've been to a concert there; it's changed a bit inside.  Looking at their programme, I see they put some good acts on that I'd go to if it were more local.  It has a real ale bar downstairs, and the Robert Peel (Wetherspoons) and the Two Tubs are just across the square, both also with real ale.

Saturday 21 May 2011

Beyond the joke?

I read something a couple of months ago that I initially assumed was a wind-up:  a European beer bloggers conference in London.  Apparently these are quite popular in America, and this is the first on this side of the pond.  A conference has to have a raison d'être, which is fairly obvious when it's something like a trade union, the CBI, or a scientific conference; rather less so with political party conferences, which are just rallies for the faithful who pass motions like real conferences do, only to have them ignored by the top table as soon as they're in government.  But a beer bloggers conference?  Would it consider motions praising or condemning CAMRA's refusal to accept keg (i.e. non-real) beer?  Would it discuss the faults and virtues of the pub tie system?  Would it condemn the Government's taxing of beer beyond the reach of many ordinary beer drinkers?  Would it express concern about the domination of brewing by multinationals?  The pros and cons of minimum pricing?

No, none of these.  There will be talks about history of brewing, panels where top beer bloggers discuss blogging tips, meals with accompanying beers, trips out, and all that sort of thing.  It all seems very amiable and a pleasant holiday for those who like such things - nothing wrong with that at all - but calling it a conference is over-egging the pudding.  Discussions and debates about weighty issues should be the stuff of conferences; in reality, this event would be better described as a convention.  Does it matter what it's called?  Probably not much in the great scheme of things, but shouldn't people who aspire to be writers use language more precisely?  The word "conference" sounds important, whereas a "convention" is what Star Trek fans put on. 

Any pretence that this "conference" is anything more than a jolly beano is completely demolished by the fact that it is sponsored by Molson Coors, manufacturers of Carling, Caffreys, Worthington, Coors, and Stones among many others.  As the conference website excitedly explains: "The company [Molson Coors] generously agreed long ago to fund the actual conference center [sic] costs, a significant sum, making it possible from the beginning that this conference would be in London.  If you are attending this weekend, please make sure to thank MolsonCoors when you get the chance!"  This makes it crystal clear that topics such as a critical analysis of the structure of the brewing industry and how it affects ordinary drinkers will not feature on the agenda; after all, it makes no sense to bite the hand that feeds you. 

If you're there, I hope you're having a good time, but don't kid yourself that this is anything more than a themed holiday.

Friday 20 May 2011

Hop Vine Beer Festival

I try to record local beer festivals on my beer festivals page, but would like to mention one in particular.  The Hop Vine in Burscough is holding its 2nd Beer Festival from 27th to 30th May, describing it as "a truly fabulous festival of fine ales & live music". 

The Hop Vine is a fine pub on Liverpool Road North a couple of hundred yards from Burscough Bridge station and half a mile from Burscough Junction.  It always has a good range of beers anyway, and in November 2010 a microbrewery was opened in an outhouse to the rear.  The last time I mentioned this, one of the owners of the Burscough Brewery pointed out to me that it is a separate business from the pub.  I already knew that, but didn't think it was relevant for drinking purposes, and I also know that one of the owners of the brewery business is also one of the owners of the pub business.  Still, the record is now straight.

A beer festival in a pub with a microbrewery is unique in this area; it's a short train journey from Southport on the Southport-Wigan-Manchester line.  I intend to get there next week.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Sandgrounder in Parliament

I've just noticed from our local free paper that the Southport Brewery has been asked to send some of its Sandgrounder Bitter (3.8%) to the Strangers Bar in the Houses of Parliament.  It was Southport MP, John Pugh, who suggested that the bar put it on as a guest ale; it's good to see our representative pushing local products, especially as Southport beers tend to be sold mostly around this area and are not usually seen in London.

My own visits to the Strangers Bar were years ago when I was taken there for a pint by whichever MP I had been lobbying - the late Eric Heffer on one memorable occasion.  I forget what the beers were, but they weren't real ales in those days.  However, I was slightly surprised on one visit when my MP host took me for a cup of tea, nice though it was to drink tea on the terrace with its wonderful view of the London waterfront.  And it was a nice sunny day.

Well done Southport Brewery.  Fingers crossed for a repeat order.

'Sandgrounder' is the local term for a native of Southport. Coming from Liverpool, I don't qualify.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Peculier Tasting Notes

I found out last night that I'm not the only one whose idea of tasting notes is straightforward.  I really don't get it when beers are described as having a coffee nose, a banana follow through with a long satisfying meringue finish.  Beers just don't taste like that to me.  Consequently, I can relate to these tasting notes for Theakston's Old Peculier that I saw yesterday evening in my local, the Guest House in Southport.

Monday 16 May 2011

Use it or lose it

This heading can apply to so many things nowadays.  People like things to be there, but they don't necessarily feel they need to support them.  A hypothetical example might be people who are upset when their local pub closes down, but don't relate that to the fact that they went in only once or twice a year.  A real example is our CAMRA branch's trip to the Stourbridge beer festival, which had to be cancelled through lack of support.  We weren't that many short of breaking even; four more would have done it.  We could have tried putting the price up, but then you risk others dropping out because it's more than they have budgeted for.  Besides, trying to sort that out by e-mail or phone would be a nightmare.  At CAMRA meetings, people say they want social events, but some just don't support them when they're put on.

This train of thought was prompted by the most recent Grateful Fred concert in Freshfield, at which there were only 12 paying members of the audience.  Individuals who put on such gigs stand to be out of pocket if insufficient people turn up.  Unfortunately I couldn't make it as I was running the Lion singaround on the same night, but I was at the previous one, which was well attended.  I was pleased with the turnout in the Lion, where there were nine singers, but occasionally I have been the only person to turn up at a singaround in Southport (this hasn't happened so far in Liverpool).  I discontinued a Saturday afternoon singaround last year after nearly 10 years due to falling support, and if the number of people who said, "What a shame!" had occasionally turned up, it would still be going.  If there's no demand for something, that's okay, but I'm certain from some conversations that that's not necessarily the case.

Then there are the freeloaders.  As you'd expect, most people are fine, but even with small scale gigs put on by local individuals, you get some selfish idiots.  Rich Simcock's Place To Be put on Ewan McLennan a few weeks ago, but there was only about a dozen there.  I was quite disgusted with two women who came at half time and expected to get in for nothing.  They could see how few people were there, and they would know that such events are put on by one person on their own initiative, not a big company that could stand the loss, but they still argued the toss (they ended up paying).  I am reliably told that some people try to blag their way in free into the Bothy Folk Club, where I'm a resident singer.  Fortunately, few get past our volunteers on the door.

I'm afraid I don't understand the mentality.  If people don't want to support things, fair enough, that's their choice, but if they do, but don't get around to turning up, then it may not be there by the time they do stir themselves.  For example, I had a complaint from a couple who said they'd turned up for the Saturday afternoon singaround and there was no one there; this was months after I'd stopped it ~ sorry, too late.  And if you're someone who thinks it's good to blag your way in free to little gigs ~ well, to be polite I'll just say, think again.

Best night to have a folk club

I have discovered there isn't one, and this finding will apply to any kind of evening event you try to arrange.  Many years ago, we had two folk clubs in Southport, the Coronation on Friday and the Bothy on Sunday.  People used to say to me that Friday was no good, because they were tired at the end of a working week.  Saturday was no good, as you were usually doing something else.  Sunday wasn't any good because you had work the next day, which logically also applies to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, which brings you back to Friday.

From this I concluded that there's no good night to organise anything and if you want to do something, just do it rather than make excuses.

Friday 13 May 2011

A Liverpool Folk Song A Week

Liverpool Castle, c. 1680
The singaround in the Lion Tavern last night went rather well with 9 singers turning up performing a wide variety of songs, both traditional and contemporary, but as I recall, no pop songs, current or old, that sometimes feature in sessions nowadays.  They're fine in small doses, but in excess can discourage the more folk-oriented singers from coming along. 

The beers were particularly interesting too, with Frodsham Buzzin', a golden fruity bitter with a hint of honey and a dry finish (from their website), and George Wright Blue Moon, which was 5%, so I saved that for later in the evening.  Both were new to me.

One singer Richard, the lanky one who comes to the Lion (his words, not mine), reminded me that he's sent me a link to his own blog, A Liverpool Folk Song A Week, which he aims to keep up for a year.  I've now put a link to it in my blogs of interest list on the right, for anyone who would like to follow this interesting project as it develops.

The next Lion singaround is on 9 June.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Minimum pricing for Scotland a step closer

Now that the SNP has won an overall majority in the Scottish parliament, one of its first priorities seems to be the minimum alcohol price proposal that was defeated by opposition parties when the parliament was hung.  There is a fairly wide-held view that such a proposal may be illegal under EU law; the Law Society of Scotland came out with this opinion earlier this year in March - you can read what they say here.  I personally would be wary of arguing a legal point with the Law Society, but the SNP is clearly made of sterner stuff than I am, and states that government lawyers have confirmed that the Scottish parliament does have the power.

A legal opinion is, of course, just an opinion, although one would hope an exceptionally well-informed one, but it's worth bearing in mind that all serious court cases have a lawyer on each side, and in every instance one out of the two will lose.  Remember also that Tony Bliar managed eventually to get a legal opinion that the invasion of Iraq was lawful, and yet millions regard him as a war criminal, myself included.

So where does this leave us with minimum pricing?  My view is that the SNP ministers are unconcerned about the legal position, especially as they have the go ahead from a government lawyer - from whom independent legal advice is guaranteed!  In other words, they intend to chance their arm.  After all, if they lose a European court case, it will be the Scottish taxpayer who pays, not the ministers responsible.  The trade association of the Scottish whisky industry has already said it will pursue legal options, and a couple years ago, at the request of the Scottish Labour MEP Ms Catherine Stihler, the European Commission responded to a question on minimum alcohol retail prices - you'll find it here.  I find it far from definitive and hedged with ifs and buts.  Nevertheless, the way I read it is that the SNP government doesn't have a completely free rein.  In the words of the song, "There may be troubles ahead", but I think the SNP will need more than music and moonlight to get this proposal through.

Then there is the law of unintended consequences. As the beer blogger Curmudgeon has written: "The sight of HGVs trundling cases of whisky from Scottish distilleries down the M74 to Carlisle ASDA, and white vans hauling them back again to Glasgow, would underline just how barmy the idea is." An unintended consequence, perhaps, but not unpredictable. 

It's funny, isn't it, how it never occurs to them to address the reasons why there might be a drink problem.  The thinking is, "This problem costs us £X million (pluck figure out of some computer projection), so we're going to get the big sticks out."  When there's a choice of a carrot or stick approach, most governments just reach for the stick for a whole range of problems, mainly because it is much cheaper to pass laws about them than it is to address their causes.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Southport Jazz Festival - real ale venues

I've looked through the Jazz Festival programme and here are the the events taking place in real ale venues - much better than last year, when there were just two.  Please note that the Scarisbrick Hotel has real ale in the Baron's Bar only, and not in the rooms being used by the jazz festival.  You'll find the full programme here (click on 'downloads').  There are plenty of other events at venues without real ale, many free, including some at Lord Street's bandstand, which might be nice if the weather's good.  Please take any inaccuracies up with the venue, the council, the prime minister or the pope - in fact, anyone but me.

u WED 25 MAY
Des Hopkins Original Jazz Band
The Shrimper, Fylde Road
9.00 pm. £4 raffle donation.

u THU 26 MAY
Nicola Farnon & her Music
Barker Suite, Scarisbrick Hotel, Lord Street
8.00 pm. £8-50.

u FRI 27 MAY
Malcolm Hogarth Trio
Barker Suite, Scarisbrick Hotel, Lord Street
12.30. Free.

Frank Garner (jazz pianist)
Knight’s Cocktail Bar, Scarisbrick Hotel, Lord Street
8.30 pm. Free for drinkers.

Des Hopkins Original Jazz Band
The Coronation, King Street
9.00 pm. Free for drinkers.

u SAT 28 MAY
The John Hallam Trio with Vinny Parker
Barker Suite, Scarisbrick Hotel, Lord Street
12.30. Free.

Marley Chingus
The Fishermen’s Rest, Weld Road
8.00 pm. Free.

Frank Garner (jazz pianist)
Knight’s Cocktail Bar, Scarisbrick Hotel, Lord Street
8.30 pm. Free for drinkers.

u SUN 29 MAY
The Inn Beer Shop, 657 Lord Street.
2.30 pm. Free.

Brady and Shaw
The Fishermen’s Rest, Weld Road
8.00 pm. Free.

Monday 9 May 2011

Thursday night is music night!

A choice of events this Thursday:

Lion singaround
My monthly singaround in this nice little pub takes place this Thursday from around 8-30 pm.  Free - performers welcome.  The Lion is just yards from Moorfields Station in Liverpool and serves up to 8 well-kept real ales.

Grateful Fred's
The monthly acoustic and roots club presents Joanna Chapman-Smith, with support from Tony Kehoe and Cholesterol Myths. Tickets can be bought on-line here.  It's at the Freshfield Hotel, Massams Lane, Formby, a short walk from Freshfield Station, and the pub sells 10 real ales.

Saturday 7 May 2011

Mild for this time of the year

This month is Make May Mild Month.  The idea is to encourage people to drink mild to help boost the declining sales of this style of beer.  Mild tends to suffer from an image problem, being seen as an old man's drink, which is a bit odd, as a lot of old men actually drink lager.  Lager was presented as a clean new drink in the days when processed cheese, meat and sliced white bread were seen as the future; it was reliable and consistent, unlike that boring old cask ale, which was thought to be on the way out, an attitude confirmed by the fact that it was often not well kept.  If a modern real drinker could travel back the the fifties and sixties, he or she would, I believe, be sadly disillusioned with the real beer available.  The reputation of mild wasn't helped by the fact that licensees often put the dregs from all other beers into the mild cask.  This isn't an urban myth - it actually happened; mild was not treated with respect.  The poor image of mild still remains, whereas real bitters, stouts and porters seem to have been largely rehabilitated.

Modern milds are quite superior to what went before.  If you want a reasonable example of old style milds, try Tetley's, which actually tastes better than Tetley bitter, but which I find unremarkable, thin and weak flavoured - having said that, a lot of people still like it.  Milds should have flavour, but being more lightly hopped, shouldn't be particularly bitter.  Because of their lower strength, they are sensible choice if you have to drive or go back to work.  Milds I do like are Moorhouses Black Cat and Prospect Nutty Slack, and I know Theakstons Mild has its advocates.

The only thing I don't really understand is why May should be Mild Month, seeing that it is often considered a winter beer.  In May, the golden ales that herald the summer are making their appearance, which must surely push mild out of drinkers' minds.  There is an on-line campaign to Make March Mild Month (link here), but it doesn't seem to be making much headway.

It would be a pity if mild disappeared completely, especially now that small brewers are producing good versions of the style.

Thursday 5 May 2011

Doesn't time fly?

The latest issue of the local CAMRA magazine which I edit, Ale and Hearty, has just been published with an embarrassing mistake on the front cover:  although it came out last month, the cover proclaims it as the Autumn 2011 edition.  I didn't pick this up when I proof read it, and I noticed it only when the magazines had been printed, at which point I scurried back and checked my cover design, which clearly said Spring 2011.  So I'll claim to be only 50% to blame, as it wasn't my mistake originally but I should have noticed it in time.

It's surprisingly time-consuming doing this magazine, even though it comes out only four times per year.  Just collecting the income from adverts can take up quite a lot of time; I help with this, but it's Fred who does most of the collecting.  It doesn't help when licensees are on the premises but won't see you.  Sometimes you suspect this, but it was made crystal clear to us recently with one licensee who is notoriously difficult to pin down; she told the bar staff that she wouldn't come down and could we come back another time?  We simply decided we won't keep wasting any more time and petrol going out to her pub yet again.

We've tried making appointments by phone.  The first hurdle is getting licensees to answer their phones, but assuming they do, they can sometimes forget any arrangements, although I doubt they would if we were from the PubCo.  For example, one licensee had arranged to meet us at 4-00 pm, but when we rolled up 5 or 10 minutes early, we were told that she'd gone out to Tesco's and they weren't sure when she'd be back.  The same licensee later complained that she never saw any CAMRA members in her pub.  I must remind all members in the next issue to stamp CAMRA on their foreheads before entering pubs.

But such behaviour is from the minority.  Many licensees welcome us and seem happy to have a chat, and some of them pay for their advert immediately, which is always encouraging.  And contrary to what some CAMRA haters allege, we don't get free pints and we never demand them either - we're happy to pay for our beer.  While chatting to licensees, I've been told some horror stories about their treatment by PubCos, and would like to print what I've heard, but I'm wary of risking anyone's livelihood.  Suffice to say that the bad tales you hear about PubCos contain a large dollop of truth.

Back to the mag:  despite the error on the cover, I hope it's still worth reading.  I've already been on the receiving end of a lot of mickey taking, with doubtless loads more to come!

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Swords tonight

A sword lock, into which the
dancers weave their swords.
I've just opened an e-mail and learnt that the Southport Swords, our local longsword and morris side, will be dancing tonight in the Baron's Bar in the Scarisbrick Hotel on Lord Street from around 8-30 pm and later in the Guest House on Union Street.  They're two of the best real ale venues in Southport, both having won many CAMRA awards, and it's no secret that the Guest House is my local.

Good beer and free entertainment too.  What's BBC HD got to match that? *

* Nothing in my case, as my TV's broken!

In the spirit

As previously posted, the Lunchtime Legends played a fundraiser for the Firefighters Charity at the Bay Horse in Adlington, near Chorley.  There had been stalls in the pub throughout the day followed by a hog roast to help raise money, but our bit was in the evening.  It was a good night; we got some nice comments about our songs, there was a quiz in which most of the questions had a fire-related theme, and real ale.  Nothing spectacular - Adnams Bitter, Jennings Cumberland, and Abbot Ale as a guest, all in good condition.  The Abbot sold out first, which suggested to me that a stronger beer as a regular might go down well there.  The pub is old and stone-walled, with a well-kept bowling green and is surrounded on most sides by fields.

I did feel a few people didn't get into the spirit of the evening when they had their phones out to find out the answers to the quiz - is a pub quiz (especially one for a charity) that important?  And it's interesting that some people are so divorced from live music that they don't know how to react when they enter are a pub and find themselves unexpectedly faced with a band playing a few feet in front of them, rather than on a stage 200 yards away or on TV.  Vaguely embarrassed, they suddenly adopt fixed grins to show they are good sports, well able to deal with this eccentricity before their eyes, and scuttle out of sight.  Others walk past staring straight ahead, as if avoiding looking at something squashed on the road.  Quite funny, really.

Still, it was an enjoyable night overall, and the whole event raised more than £750 for the charity.