Anyway at this time of year Mr Brown would like to reflect on the comings and goings and events of the year. I must admit to being slightly miffed at the current trend of publicans taking on more than one pub at a time. No names no pack drill, by order of the editor, but surely a pub is as good as the landlord, and if he is spreading his wings far and wide that can't be good for any pub. I can think of many great publicans like Bunter at the Radegund, Mark Donachy at the Red Lion Histon, and David Short at the Queens Head Newton who stick to doing what they do best i.e. running one pub and running it well.

This year we had a few sad losses of publicans, but one close to me was June Lewin formerly of the Empress and Old English Gentleman Harston, taken from us at a tragically early age - she will be sorely missed. This year's Beer Festival, as mentioned in previous dispatches, was fantastic, and let's hope the winter one will be as good. The Shelford Feast, St Ives, Ely, Wilburton and Histon beer festivals, to mention but a few, were all well attended and it is a great tribute to the supreme cellarmanship that the beers, no matter the weather, have been outstanding. Congratulations also to Haggis and Pete at the Live and Let Live for the pub of the year award and well done to them and the Carlton Arms for the beer festivals they have put on this year.

In & Out Inns, the outside bar company that specializes in real ale for outside bars, also had a brilliant year serving their wares at bars large and small, including the Soham Carnival and many birthday and wedding celebrations. As predicted, licensing has been a problem but Cambridge City and South Cambs have tried their best to oversee things. For me, Miles Bebbington from South Cambs has been particularly helpful.

The government has, as usual, not helped the pub trade, and it really is time, that if they insist on Europeanization, they get the duties paid by us, the thirsty punter, in line with those in France. The 24 hour drinking bill came in this year and by and large has not been too bad, but I must admit to not knowing even now when my favourite haunts are likely to close. This is called progress, thanks again to the government. I have been very pleased to see all our local brewers prospering over the last year, and wish them all well, and feel sure that their market share is keeping up as more free houses are trying out local beers. Think global, drink local, that's the ticket. Much earlier this year I suggested that a local pump in every free house would be good, maybe it is time to see this happen. I end the year wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, prosperous new year, and see you all down the local boozer, or at a beer festival, where you are welcome to buy me a pint!

Cheers

Jerry Brown