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!


  1. I get ours proof read by the committee too. It can be hard to spot your own errors. Or anyone else's.

  2. With Ale and Hearty, it's more a case of, "It's your job - get on with it."


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