Virtually all draught beer was cask back then, and there was still a healthy sprinkling of local independent brewers spread throughout the country, but whilst it was good listening to these older drinkers, and learning what beers were available, twenty of thirty years previously, there's no getting away that in the main most CAMRA members were under thirty or, like me, in their early twenties.
Four decades later, and the reverse is true, with the over 50's making up the majority of the membership, and people in their 20's as rare as hen's teeth. This is now a major problem for the Campaign, and it's no exaggeration to say that unless more volunteers come forward and CAMRA, manages to attract new blood onto its ranks, it will die on its feet.
I am sure we are not alone in this, and as I have written before, there is no easy answer. CAMRA has been well aware of this situation for some time, which is why the organisation embarked on its Revitalisation Project. I have no intention of going over the findings of the project, or the in-depth analysis which resulted from it; especially as matters are about to come to a head, and this is what leads me on to the all important Special Resolutions which CAMRA'S 190,000+ members are being asked to vote on.
I fully understand why CAMRA felt it had to go down the path of change, because not to do so would, in my opinion, be a betrayal of the membership, and could also spell the end for what has been labelled "Europe's most successful consumer organisation". So whilst it may seem strange for someone like me, who voted for the country to remain a member of the European Union, to then be challenging the established order by voting for change, I feel it is the only way forward for CAMRA.
There's no guarantee of course that the Special Resolutions will be carried. For them to take effect will require a "super majority" of 75% of the votes to be in favour, rather than just a simple majority; something David Cameron would have been wise to insist on! With the majority of CAMRA's active members likely to oppose the changes, it might be difficult to achieve even a simple majority.
We will know the outcome of the vote soon enough, but whichever way it goes it's worth me placing on record that I have been disillusioned with CAMRA for some time. In fact for the past couple of years I have seriously considered whether I wish to remain a member of an organisation which seems increasingly irrelevant in the modern world. Over the years I have put my heart and soul into the Campaign of Real Ale, so in many ways it would be sad for me and CAMRA to part company. Before committing to anything though, I will see what the outcome is of the Revitalisation Project, and will also wait and see what fallout there is from the vote.
Finally, the Special Resolution I voted against was the one which proposed including cider and perry amongst CAMRA's campaigning aims. I joined a group which campaigned for better beer, not for cider and perry. Lovers of these drinks should go off and form their own campaign and not hang on the back of CAMRA's coat tails!