Yet Another Revitalisation Article

Breaking news! CAMRA member shares their opinion about Revitalisation! If at this point you are still reading, then I commend you. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, well, you’re in for a treat.

For those not in the know, Revitalisation is CAMRA’s very own Brexit – a consultation process as to how best the organisation can tackle the next 50 years that in hindsight has proven to be one of the most divisive actions that anyone could possibly have conceived.

The principle behind Revitalisation was logical and well-meaning. The campaign has existed for over 40 years, and it has been instrumental in contributing to many key issues surrounding real ale and the pubs industry – I don’t think that anyone is disputing that. The thing is, partly as a result of the campaign’s actions, and partly as a result of the fact that the world moves on, we’ve reached a point where we find ourselves asking a very valid question – what is the purpose of CAMRA in 2018, and what is the point of it continuing for the next 40 years?

The Revitalisation process

The Revitalisation process has been going on for some time – in fact, I forget exactly when it was started. Because if you are to look forwards, it is vital that you understand from where you have come, one of the original founder members of the organisation was unretired to chair the committee. And now, after months and months of consultations, meetings, and bickering on Facebook, we are less than a month away from voting on the proposals put forwards by the programme.

The question at the heart of Revitalisation was never asked as a way to radically change the principles of the organisation under a pretense of a democratic mandate, but there are those who would have you believe that it was. Michael Hardman wasn’t appointed to chair the committee to prevent people from thinking that Revitalisation was a coup-de-tat from a wave of evil craft keg drinkers who a secretly in the pockets of big brewers looking to crush cask ale, but there are those who are adamant that it is. The process was never meant to be a polarising political argument that forces members to choose whether you’re for or against Revitalisation, and yet here we are – drawing up battle lines and preparing to descend on Members Weekend in Coventry, marching behind the banners of NE candidates, many of whom have nailed their colours to one mast or the other.

 

I’m 400 words into this article, and I’m yet to tell you whether I am for the Revitalisation proposals or against them. Do I have an opinion? Yes, I do. Do I know how I am going to vote? Absolutely. Am I going to tell you? Not a chance.

 

The reason for my silence, and the lack of allegiance to any one side, is because choosing a side is quite possibly one of the worst things that you can do to the campaign as a whole. Revitalisation was never meant to be a poll of absolution, but if you spend five minutes looking at debates online, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was an all or nothing vote. And it isn’t – there are ten separate motions to vote for in April. Motions that have been formed from countless open-ended survey questions and discussions.

If you asked people what Revitalisation is about, a worryingly high number of them will probably say “It’s a vote on whether we should campaign for keg beer or not”. I know this because I’ve asked people to explain the process to me in their own words. Revitalisation is not about keg beer. It does feature within one or two of the motions, but that’s because keg beer (whether we like it or not) is part of the beer industry, and Revitalisation is about defining CAMRA’s place within that industry.

Ultimately, the outcome of Revitalisation isn’t going to shake the foundations of the campaign to the ground. And that’s because CAMRA’s foundations are formed by the branches. The branches will, as they always have done, focus on the elements of the campaign that are most pertinent to their area. The national elements of the campaign will never know the needs of Upper Lower Smithington branch because no one knows Upper Lower Smithington better than the people who live there. What Revitalisation will do however is give the campaign a function and a purpose. It will give that purpose to the members, the staff, and to the people against whom we lobby.

Most importantly though, the future of the campaign will not depend on the outcome of the vote. No matter the outcome, CAMRA will continue. Too many people have invested far too much for it to be allowed to collapse like that. Instead, the vote will determine what future the campaign will have. I fully expect people to resign as a result of the vote, no matter the outcome. But I ask you this – don’t quit. If the vote doesn’t go the way you want it to, don’t write off the campaign as a lost cause. Instead, use it as an incentive to get involved and make your voice heard at your branch, your festival, wherever it is you are.

We are one of the largest consumer lobbying groups in Europe – our members are going to have different opinions. Whether intentionally or not, we are champions of diversity. Diversity in the drinks we drink, in the places we drink them, by the people who drink them. That is a beautiful thing to be part of. It was here before Revitalisation, and it’ll be here long after it’s forgotten. I don’t know about you, but that’s something that I’m all for voting for, again and again.

Live TV is not all smilies and thumbs up…

As many of you have no doubt seen by now, on Wednesday 15th August I was lucky enough to be invited to appear live on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, as an expert speaker on the subject of emoji and their use in workplace emails. For those of you who missed it, here is the full segment in all its glory:

I’ll come on to the subject of emoji shortly, but first a word or two about the experience itself. I’ve done radio interviews multiple times, and I’ve done pieces to camera for online videos many times, but this was my first experience of live television, and it really was a fantastic experience. The research and support staff behind the scenes at GMB went above and beyond in organising the logistics of being in London for 6am in the morning, and from the moment I arrived they made me feel welcome and at ease, despite that thought in the back of your head that you know you’re about to be watched live by about a million people across the country.

 

As you have seen from the interview, my argument in favour of the use of emoji in work emails is focused around the idea that emoji enable us to more effectively convey the emotional inflections of what we’re saying in written messages. This has always been a great difficulty, and is something that we have all experienced first hand, whether it be an email from the boss, or a text message from your partner (many a night has been spent down the pub asking friends “what do you think she means by that?”).

 

In answer to the response that emoji are too informal to be used in work emails, I would actually agree. Yes, they are very informal, when held to the current standards by which we determine what is formal and informal. The beautiful thing about human language, however, is that these standards are constantly evolving and developing to accommodate the way in which we most naturally communicate. Not too long ago, it would’ve been considered far too casual to use the word ‘would’ve’ in place of ‘would have’, and yet here I am using it freely. If we go back to the Norman conquest of England, we would find that the royal court spoke in French, and that English (such as it was then) was considered the language of lower classes. This notion remained in place until the early 15th century – Henry V was, in fact, the first king of England to actually write in English.

 

The point is, language, as with many things in life, are not fixed. They evolve and develop to suit our needs, requirements, and ever increasingly so – our conveniences. The tears of joy emoji is a great example of that convenience. Once upon a time we would have said in a message “I’m actually laughing out loud at that”. That then evolved into the archetype of text speak – “LOL”. The tears of joy emoji is the next logical step in the process of conveying something to another party in the most convenient way possible. That right there is evolution in its purest form.

 

A lot has been said since the interview about the way it was handled, and the treatment of myself and Grant (the other expert) by the hosts, specifically Jeremy Kyle. Anyone watching from the start of the show would have already had an inkling into his personal thoughts on the subject, and I was ready for that – after all I had been asked to take part in a debate, and a core part of debating is the defence of one’s opinions. I did not get to speak much with Jeremy before or after the segment (he was after all in the midst of a live broadcast), but as with everyone else that day he was polite and courteous, and it really was great fun to be part of such a spirited discussion.

Troop Aid

Raising money for Troop Aid

I’ve always had an obsession interest in military history. Of course, that interest led me to study the subject at the University of Birmingham, which is why I am here, today (though the story of transitioning from War Studies to social media is one for another article). That means that military charities support a cause I feel close to.

Troop Aid is the only charity with direct access to military hospitals in the UK. For me, that gives me the confidence that my sponsorship money is truly making it to where it is needed most – to those injured servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much in the face of danger.

 

 

Based here in the Midlands, Troop Aid is a no-frills charity that spends very little on marketing and promotion but has achieved a lot in its short history. In 2014 it won the Queen’s award for voluntary service and can name HRH the Prince of Wales as a patron. At the heart of what they do is the ‘Grab Bag’. These are small bags that contain items that at first you may think to be mundane and trivial – a pair of pants, toothpaste, shower gel, a flannel, socks and more. There’s nothing exciting about these items, they’re just basic essentials.

However, when you have been flown into a military hospital with nothing but clothes on your back, these essentials take on a whole new meaning, and they can genuinely make the difference in helping someone to feel human again after what they’ve been through. Troop Aid send their support “Grab Bags” to Cyprus, Canada, Kenya, Nepal, SouthSudan, Brunei and MOD hospital units in the UK. For me, it was an obvious candidate for my chosen charity.

Charity runs

In 2016 I decided to take up distance running. I was never one for sports, and I was finding it challenging working in a gym environment, so I started running around Sandwell Valley Park. Before long, I found myself running five kilometres at a time, and then ten. I bought my first pair of proper running shoes and entered my first event in November 2016 – a 10K race in Sutton Coldfield. I found a sport that I enjoyed, but I wanted to do more and run farther. The 8.5 mile Great Midlands Fun Run in June 2017 was the natural next step.

To help motivate me, I decided to run for Troop Aid. With a branded running jersey kindly donated by the team at Colour Cubed, I took to the streets of Sutton Coldfield once again and posted a personal best that has inspired me to go on and tackle the Birmingham Half Marathon in October. I was also privileged to be able to raise money for the charity and help pay for more Grab Bags to be produced.

I will continue to wear my Troop Aid jersey at races to raise awareness and get some people here and there to search for them on Google to find out more, but I don’t intend to ask for money. I believe that the work that this charity does speaks for itself, and so telling people about that work is now my mission. 

Of course, if you do wish to make a donation, you can do so at http://troopaid.info/, and you will do so with my grateful thanks. In the meantime, let me know what races you’re taking part in, and I might see you at the start line soon!

My ramblings

Welcome to my blog. Here I will document some of my thoughts, opinions, and learnings on the topics I am most passionate about. Most likely these will be centered around social media, current affairs, real ale and my adopted home town of Birmingham.

It should go without saying that the opinions I voice are my own, and not that of my employer or any of the organisations I represent or work with. Not that I’ll be saying anything that controversial about anything that really matters.

I welcome your comments on posts and I am always happy to connect on social media, especially Twitter. If you’d like to contact me for any other reason, feel free to use the contact page.

Enjoy!