Saturday, 9 September 2017

Not the best start to the month


Iain - sadly departed and much missed

We're already a quarter of the way into September,  and it hasn’t exactly been the best start to the month so far. Let us trust things will start getting better as time goes on.

September began with family, friends and colleagues bidding a final  goodbye to our recently retired branch chairman and long-standing committee member Iain Dalgleish, who was known affectionately as the “Kentish Scot.”

Iain succumbed to an illness which he’d fought off a decade ago, but which unfortunately returned last year. Despite a brave battle, second time around, he sadly passed away in the middle of last month, leaving a grieving widow and many equally lamenting friends, of whom I am one.

West Kent CAMRA will certainly feel his loss, as for many years he was a tireless driving force behind the branch playing a pivotal role in the successful beer festival we run in conjunction with local Heritage Group, Spa Valley Railway. His computer skills and knowledge of data bases came into their own with the publication of the award-winning Gateway to Kent Guide; a joint venture with Maidstone & Mid-Kent, plus Gravesend CAMRA branches. His spreadsheets and data interpretation abilities were also to the fore at GBG selection time, particularly when it came to analysing the NBSS scores submitted to WhatPub.

It is his personal qualities that we will miss the most though, as Iain was an amiable, good-natured and kindly person who lived life to the full, never missing the opportunity for one last drink, or a sneaky visit to the pub on the way home from work.

Gateway Guide award - Isle of Man 2010
A true "bon-viveur" would be an apt description, and that is how we remembered him as we said farewell, in a manner which I’m sure he would have appreciated, at the Royal Oak, Tunbridge Wells, last Friday, immediately after his cremation. A packed gathering at the funeral service, and afterwards at the wake, was a measure of the esteem in which Iain was held, by all who knew him.

The presence of several licensees, as well as a couple of brewers, showed just how highly regarded he was by the licensed trade, and the donation of two casks of beer; one from Kent Brewery and the other from Pig & Porter, made sure the afternoon went swimmingly and passed off in more than a slight alcoholic haze.

The start to the working week  was pretty straight forward, but on Tuesday I had the remaining bottom right molar removed from my jaw; a procedure which wasn’t helped by the tooth fracturing into three pieces during the extraction. It is only today (Saturday), that I have felt anything like my normal self as, although returning to work the day after the extraction, I was popping pain-killers at the appropriate  times and generally feeling under the weather. As an indication of this, I have not had a drop of beer since Monday evening, although I intend to rectify this later this evening.

Windmill - beer selection
The weather too has not been good recently, and certainly not conducive to enjoying the great outdoors. There is a CAMRA social tomorrow, at the Windmill in Sevenoaks Weald.  There is the possibility of walking there, but with squally showers forecast later in the day, it might be a case of a walk there and then the bus back.

The Windmill, of course was branch Pub of the Year for three years on the trot, and only narrowly missed winning the award for a record fourth time this year. There will be plenty to look forward to beer-wise, at this tastefully renovated village pub, and it will be good to catch up with landlord Matt under happier circumstances, as the last time I saw him was at Iain’s funeral, last week.

Regensburg - old town
Finally, we have the prospect of a family holiday to look forward to in a few weeks time, and a return trip to the lovely city of Regensburg, in eastern Bavaria, should help lift all our spirits. With four breweries, plus a brew-pub, operating in the city, there should be plenty to keep us entertained on the beer front, and if the weather turns out the same as last year, it should provide a much better end to the month than September has been so far.

3 comments:

retiredmartin.com said...

Sorry to hear of the loss of your friend and great campaigner, Paul.

Hopefully your trip to Regensberg will provide a good break.

Russtovich said...

Condolences on the loss of Iain.

If you squint a bit looking at that award photo he looks a little bit like the late Michael Jackson.

And here's hoping the weather in Germany cooperates.

Cheers

Paul Bailey said...

Thanks Martin. I met up today with a couple of friends from CAMRA who, for one reason or another, were unable to attend Iain's funeral. We all agreed that he would be a hard act to follow, given the hours of dedication he put in behind the scenes.

Apart from the obvious sadness surrounding the loss of a friend, events such as Iain's passing expose the fragility surrounding many CAMRA branches; especially given the increasing ages of many active members.

Work for the 2018 Guide is complete, and I know from your postings that the finished article is in your possession. In a few months time it will be time to start the whole selection process all over again; but it will be a lot harder this time around.

I've no doubt people will rally round, and the job will get done, but there must be other branches who find themselves in similar positions. The problem will continue, all the time CAMRA focuses its efforts purely on expanding its membership, rather than exploring ways of encouraging existing members to take a more active role.

I suspect there are no easy answers, otherwise they would have been adopted by now, but it is important that members like yourself, who travel all over the country, continue to input NBSS scores. We just need to find more people like Iain who are capable of interpreting that data in a meaningful way.

On a happier note, we are all looking forward to our forthcoming trip to Regensburg.