The Harold House is something of an institution. It’s the kind of place that’d get mentioned as a must-see, flawless-Guinness-serving ‘hidden gem’, if it wasn’t so profoundly, unequivocally strange as to make you second guess recommending it to anyone. The Harold House is an outwardly unassuming time-warp where coincidentally my Da had his first pint before our branch of the clan relocated to environs more conveniently adjacent to an industrial estate, it has long established itself in the annals of my familial lore. This trip to the fabled ‘Harroler’ though has a purpose aside from catching the second half of Stevenage and Maidenstone’s FA Cup first round clash, or exchanging inscrutable glances with the lad who appears to be some kind of retired wizard and the Dom DeLuise lookalike wearing shades indoors. Instead, we were there to compete in the most noble of evening pursuits, Derry’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Bingo.
I hesitate to call into question Rock ‘n’ Roll Bingo’s rock ‘n’ roll credentials, but for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t much differ from bingo of the traditional variety. Essentially, our charming, golf club casual attired compère plays snippets from hits of today and yesteryear, calls out the title of the track and if you happen to have it on your card (lucky you), you tick it off. Aside from the associated thrill that comes with gambling of any ilk, the musical part of the evening’s proceedings leaves a wealth possibility for comedy of both the knowing and unintentional varieties. One of the highlights of this Thursday’s instalment was the disembodied cry of ‘No, no, no!’ from the other side of the bar as our keyboard-manning Master of Ceremonies called out the title of Electric Six’s Gay Bar. It was as if this regular instantly had visions of discoballs dropping from the ceiling as George Micheal strode through the front door, indiscriminately doling out loaded stares over his aviators and coquettishly twirling a police baton.
In a pub-scene that increasingly exalts eccentricity, to the point that a newish city centre boozer opts to peddle hammers as well as pints in pursuit of authenticity, this place is the real deal in both its quality, hospitality and genuine eccentricity. And sure, if you rather your pint of plain with a side of winking affectation, rather than bacon fries, MVP is only across the road.
34 Clanbrassil Street Upper
Words: Danny Wilson / Photos: Killian Broderick