Tuesday, December 20, 2011


A few weeks ago our housekeeping department had an evening out after our Secret Santa exchange of gifts and an afternoon of food and games. It was scheduled to be a late afternoon of karoake at the Vulcan Pub (not to be confused with the popular Vulcan Lounge).

Only a few blocks from our hotel we went to a dimesize establishment standing in the midst of a parking lot like a forgotten soul, forlornly facing the stylized glass-faced Atrium college across the street.

I'm not sure I have ever been in such an old pub. I probably have, as so much in the UK has been around for hundreds of years, but you could feel the creak in this place. The crooked rooms, the thick wooden-slabbed floors, the soiled walls all cried out in a strange, cozy welcome. Where have ya been? We've kept the place going for you. Are you alright?

The proprietors through the years have barely kept it going. The Vulcan has been facing demolition for years and an online petition hopes to dissuade the landowners from wiping it away to create eleven more parking spots.

The tiny front room with a piano in one corner and probably only five tables besides a few wall lounges leads to another room behind the bar in which the pool table just fits, surrounded by magnificent ceiling-high wall seats and an old unused fireplace. A jukebox from the 70s hangs on the wall leading to the gents' toilets. One of the women in our group suddenly goes through the door. Oh, it's alright, she says, that's where the smoking is. The men's toilets are half outdoors with the wooden doors opening to the elements.

Beyond the pool room is yet another smaller room filled with books and games for obstensibly quieter entertainments and at the end of the reading room is the ladies' toilet, which is completely indoors with no smoking allowed.

As some of us sit around the pool table I feel pleasantly at home, as if I'm in the basement hideaway of friends or an old Polish church hall wedding celebration. As we continually duck our heads and drinks to avoid the pool players and their sticks, I feel as if I'm waiting for some shy, gallant gent to ask me to dance.

A blackboard on the opposite wall outlines the names and numbers of food establishments where you can order take-out and eat it in the Vulcan.

The karoake that was supposed to start at 4 p.m. still hasn't begun at 7 p.m. as the Wii version the owners were going to use apparently had a meltdown and they were on the hunt for another system. After interminable pool games and 70s songs on the jukebox the karoake began in the front room. So bad. Only one of the microphones worked properly, the words were too small for most of us to see, and no one could sing. So bad that it was hilarious. A few people from 'outside' came into the pub which certainly felt like our own and it was good to welcome them into this wacky, headache-inducing scene.

I've definitely developed a soft spot for this old place. Cheers! or as the Welsh say: Iechyd Da!

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