One of the best things about old books is finding inserts — scribbled notes, bus tickets, clippings — and annotations.
Recently, Boak’s uncle very kindly let us borrow several early editions of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. They are well used and, like many copies of the GBG we’ve seen, feature ‘ticks’ against the names of pubs and breweries in Biro ink. There are also numerous scraps of paper containing detailed handwritten updates — a sign, perhaps, of the speed with which new breweries and ‘real ale’ pubs were appearing between editions in the mid- to late seventies?
The annotation pictured above, from the 1974 GBG, caught our eye, though, because it tells a story in three words: LIKE THE PLAGUE.
This was the first commercial edition of the GBG which, at the last minute, was censored by its publishers, Waddington’s, who feared a legal challenge from Watney’s. After some angry exchanges, CAMRA agreed to rewrite the text to read ‘at all costs’, but, clearly, members on the ground were annoyed at the idea of being bullied by the loathed Red Empire, and some preferred the text as intended.
The word PUKE written across the entire entry is Uncle’s own contribution, and is a fair summary of how ‘serious drinkers’ felt about Watney’s at the time.