Sunday, 29 May 2011

Much Ado About Nothing


Seems a few bloggers have got their knickers into a twist over CAMRA Chairman Colin Valentine having a pop at the "bloggerati" at the CAMRA AGM. It was kind of kicked off by Martyn Cornell in a vitriolic, spittle flecked rant, in which he accused Colin of telling lies. Strong stuff. Seems Colin got himself in trouble by actually stating what he believed and for re-iterating clearly that insidious pressure by some bloggers for CAMRA to change would avail them but little.

Across the pond, Canada in fact. there is more - and reading the comments I'm somewhat suprised to see people chipping in about CAMRA who cheerfully admit they know nothing about it. Many of the comments also seem, on both sides of the argument, to veer off rather into tangents. Nearer home Rabidbarfly chips in his ten penn'orth and vows never to be a member as long as Colin is in charge. That'll teach him.

You can probably guess that my view is not quite as agin Colin as some.  Sure he had a pop, but it's all good knockabout stuff. The serious message is that all the chipping away at them will not change CAMRA's focus on real ale. He could have sugared the pill of course, but Colin chose to say it in his own forthright way. Here's what I wrote to Glyn on his blog in response to what he said.

"But in any event, so what? CAMRA Chairman Robustly Defends Real Ale Shock. It is odd isn't it, a kind of cheek, that many in the blogging world feel free to attack CAMRA and its members in the most pejorative of terms, but throw a hissy fit when the CAMRA chairman decides to hit back a little. (More than you have blogged about this, one in particularly hysterical terms.)  As for the jibe about the best beer being the next, many bloggers do butterfly around the exotic and rarely extol cask. Many bloggers do promote and encourage keg beer. Many bloggers do seem to promote new and exciting - whether you think that a good or bad thing is a point for debate - and many do struggle to define craft and what it is or isn't, while rallying around the term and using CAMRA's non support of it as a club to beat them with.

Can't have it all ways and if stick is dished out, sometimes stick has to be taken. "


At least it has provoked a bit of comment, but at the end of the day, as I said in my piece in Beer Magazine, I rather think that a bit of mutual respect is better.  but if you can't do that, on whatever side of the argument your sympathies lie, don't expect the worm never to turn.

You will also find, I'd venture,  quite a bit of trouble in finding lies in what Colin said.

23 comments:

Rabidbarfly said...

I don't wear knickers, I think Dredge might though....

Anonymous said...

"...who cheerfully admit they know nothing about it..."

Saying I couldn't care less hardly qualifies as knowing nothing. Thanks for setting yourself up as my judge and then doing such a crap job of it.

Alan
A Good Beer Blog

Tandleman said...

Alan. What on earth are you talking about? I said nothing at all about you. It might be your blog, but what I said, if you read what I said correctly, was about a commentator on your blog. Not you, but Bruce Ticknor.

I said nothing at all about you, so thanks for doing such a "crap" and aggressive job in responding to me and thereby judging yourself.

Mark said...

Glyn - I do wear knickers! They also have the Pencil&Spoon logo stitched into them. I've got lots of pairs - would you like one?

Tandleman - I don't think this is 'Much ado about nothing'. I think it's a poke in the eye to try and get either some backing from his CAMRA peers or to get the bloggers talking about CAMRA some more. Either way, it's not a good thing to do and the tone is fierce and derisory.

I don't seriously think people want CAMRA to champion keg beer instead of cask, I think we just want CAMRA to be more open to all beer and be a promoter of good beer, not just beer which is poured from a cask - there's a lot of BAD beer poured from a cask (as there is from keg...).

As for only being interested in the next beer... if that were so then we'd have nothing to blog about - how many posts are written about what I'll be drinking next week?

Mutual respect is what's needed and this is only going to push online writers further against CAMRA. What was he trying to gain from this speech?! Does he think the 400 people in the room, few of whom read blogs, I'd guess, would revolt.

When it comes to the people who talk most visibly about beer, it is bloggers. CAMRA need to do something to repair whatever cracks there are in this relationship because otherwise it's only going to get worse and worse...

Tandleman said...

Mark - It is a storm in a tea cup. OK it did give the knockers another chance to knock but that's just a sooner or later thing anyway.

You'd have to ask Colin why he did it though. It was as much a surprise to me when he said it. I guess he is just fed up with his friends getting flak and felt like putting his own point of view and it was a personal point of view, not a policy statement. Members decide policies, not chairmen.

Blogging isn't (yet) influential enough to make any real difference and as I said elsewhere, if one throws punches, expect to get one back now and then.

It means little in great scheme of things.

Anonymous said...

Mr. T,

I am just checking back here today and see the misunderstanding. I did clearly read (fairly) that you were calling me a "know nothing" but I also utterly and completely accept that this was not your intention and see how you wrote it, too.

Can't promise I will not be grumpy once in a while but I am very sorry to have misread your reference as I did.

Alan
A Good Beer Blog.

Tandleman said...

Thanks Alan. Not a problem at all.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I actually thought he meant the same thing Alan... your comments, not the comments on your post.

Tandleman said...

And if I expressed myself unclearly, sorry too.

Anonymous said...

Not a problem. The fault was mine and with all the merry cross blog comment jabbing T and I were doing at each other, I missed the distinction being made and was rude (the true issue).

Alan
A Good Beer Blog

Des de Moor said...

Hmmm. I'm not so sure the remarks can be so easily shrugged off, Tandlemn. As someone commented on another blog on this subject, although CAMRA has expanded its membership over the past few years, its activist base has not grown proportionately. Of course there are a number of challenges CAMRA -- along with, I should say, a number of other organisations of a similar size and tradition -- faces in involving new and younger and more diverse volunteers. But incidents like this aren't going to help. No matter what Colin thought he was saying, or what you think he thought he was saying, the whole thing has come across as a grumpy old man in a powerful position snapping at troublesome youngsters and their noisesome new technology on the assumption that the audience are already on his side.

Tandleman said...

It's a question of perspective and indeed loyalty I'd say. I think on the whole it has at least made bloggers think a bit more, though I suppose we really ought to wait and see.

You'd have to ask Colin how he perceives it though.

Anonymous said...

I'm fairly positive about "craft" keg (I think it's particularly useful for pubs that don't have appropriate cellaring, turnover or clientele for cask, and when you try a new generation keg, you immediately appreciate that the major problem with kegs of old was shit brew, not the dispense method) and I'm neither a huge fan of CAMRA nor even entirely convinced of their continued relevance, but I can't understand why many bloggers are so obsessed with getting them to support keg. They're an organisation that exists to support cask ale (rather than "good beer" per se) and regardless of what I think of their modus operandi or of quality keg, I think that's a valuable endeavour in itself. Even if I didn't, I wouldn't be so arrogant as to assume an organisation ought to support my particular enthusiasm when it falls outside of its state aims and objectives. If people want an organisation to support craft keg, why not start one? It's what the cask enthusiasts did way back when.

John Clarke said...

I think it worth point out that as far as I can see there is no such word as "noisesome". Noisome on the other hand means smelly.

And if Des De Moor finds it so hard to shrug off the comments I presume he won't be accepting any more paid commissions from CAMRA and will be withdrawing from the GBBF beer tasting I see he is lined up for. Or perhaps commercial considerations will come before offended sensibilities. It will be interesting to see.

Come to think of it Martyn Cornell often takes CAMRA's shilling too, doesn't he? Given his outrage I assume he, too, will be turning down any paid work that may come his way from CAMRA.

John Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HardKnott Dave said...

What's interesting is that I'm finding it hard to feel any outrage about this. It's both funny and sad at the same time. In reality the sleeping dog has been poked with a pointy stick and it yapped and growled a bit.

RedNev said...

I've only just come across this.

Having read what Colin said, I find nothing to disagree with at all, and I'm a CAMRA member who has never unthinkingly supported the campaign right or wrong.

If you're a member, you know what to do to try to change CAMRA policy, but don't get all "disillusioned" if the majority don't agree with your ideas. That's democracy for you: it sometimes does things you don't like.

If you're not a member, you have no influence on CAMRA, so why waste time and energy fulminating against an organisation that has roundly rejected calls to embrace craft keg? IF I were a fan of craft keg, I'd be advocating it positively, rather than slagging off an organisation whose very name excluded my preferred type of beer.

mudskipperbeerlife said...

The reaction to this seems to have been larger than anything that was actually said in the first place, and as I agree with the "Bloggeratti", I am still a member of CAMRA, because I believe in what it does with cask. I don't on the other hand believe that keg should be rejected, and as a CAMRA member, I want to see CAMRA grow, and to evolve. Before, Cider wasn't allowed, and so is it really that impossible to see that keg couldn't also be admitted. In the same sense, that a shit cask, shit cider and so on and so on, surely a shit keg beer wouldn't be allowed. I spent a year in Germany, where the beer there was kegged, and was a damn sight better than a hell of a lot of cask beers that are in CAMRA's lists of "good examples of real ale".

In another sense though, I've seen the reactions from people, and I've seen the initial posts that set them off. CAMRA seems to have grossly overreacted to the blogs and there are a lot of other comments by tandleman himself, almost attacking the people, rather than the ideas that are behind them. I can understand how it looks like people are attacking your beliefs or whatnot, but every step is just a further escalation of an argument, that will eventually put CAMRA against the very people it's trying to help.

Tandleman said...

"there are a lot of other comments by tandleman himself, almost attacking the people, rather than the ideas that are behind them."

Are there indeed? Right. List them.

mudskipperbeerlife said...

Well there's a lot in Pete Brown's blog for a start. Do you not see the kind of attacking passive aggresive voice you use in this comment itself though?

mudskipperbeerlife said...

Not that I'm looking at joining in any argument. I think they just take away from the beer, and the blogs I'd read never truly put CAMRA down...they just displayed their own opinion...essentially what blogs were made for. I've not seen or heard the interview in question, but from the quotes I've seen, it seems like CAMRA got the wrong end of the stick, like a few months back when Roger Protz put a lot of people down, by calling them noisesome bloggers. Now that article was just rude, and had nothing to do with the beer...it seemed more to do with CAMRA feeling slighted than anything else.

Tandleman said...

I think before chipping in with this kind of thing, you need to know more about the background, read a bit more widely on the debate so far and realise that even though we disagree on many things, most of the people you think I am insulting and who dish a fair bit out, are my friends and colleagues.

We give it and we take it, then we have a drink.

Bailey said...

Late to the party commenting on this. I thought Colin's comments were rude, made him seem a bit less than statesman-like, and made me feel yet further alienated from CAMRA (of which I am a member, and have been for quite a few years now, because I broadly support its aims). But, hey ho.