I'm on my way home after another night in the big city. As part of Ros's programme to ensure that I don't become completely disconnected from urban life, I was invited to a CAMRA reception at the House of Commons, and the opportunity to spend a midweek evening with Ros and drink free beer was too good to miss.
The recent controversy concerning the MP for Falkirk has meant that the spotlight has fallen on politicians and their drinking. In a building which has a surprising number of drinking holes, and with far too many evenings when MPs and Peers have to hang around waiting to vote, the scope for excessive drinking is great.
Perhaps it wasn't surprising that 150 Parliamentarians had registered for the event, but it was evident that whilst some were clearly 'only here for the beer', others are keen to support CAMRA's campaigning to save pubs and break the pubcos and their grip on the licenced trade.
For those of us who live in rural communities, pubs are important, and we're particularly fortunate in Suffolk in that the survival rate of village pubs is relatively high, helped by the emergence of gastropubs where the quality of the beer is a key element in their success.
Using pubs as more than just a place to eat and drink helps too, and bringing things like community shops and post offices under one roof creates potentially sustainable community hubs.
And, of course, Suffolk is a major producer of ale, with Greene King at Bury St Edmunds, Adnams at Southwold, plus a number of smaller breweries - St Peters in the Elmhams, the Rougham Brewery (purveyors of fine ale to Creeting St Peter pub nights) and the Earl Soham Brewery to name but three of my favourites.
So, pubs and beer are important, and well worth a trip to London to support. And I even squeezed in a polite chat with Gareth Epps. Beer - it's good for a surprising number of things...