My time has come to find a better way
The Lowdown on Pod, Part 1 - History and Geography
« : 18.08.04 at 00:20 »
Here is the first instalment of the information you have all been waiting for about PoD. It may be necessary from time to time to post additions or amendments, so be sure to watch out for any "Stop Press" threads that that appear below.
FOR NEWCOMERS - WHAT IS A XoD?
One day in 1996 Steve Birkill made the journey from his home in Derbyshire down to the Sussex coast. He had learned through the Internet that Pete Atkin, who hadn't released a record for twenty years, was playing that night in a folk club in Eastbourne.
Subsequent to that night's meeting Steve set up "Smash Flops" the Pete Atkin website. The next year Steve and his wife Carole organised an event in a field behind their house at which numbers of people, most of whom had believed for years (like Steve himself) that they were the only people who remembered Pete and his music, had the chance to meet each other and to hear Pete play the songs they'd thought they'd never again hear live. Subsequently some wag christened the event "The Field of Dreams," and the name stuck.
Later on that year Steve started a mailing list in which these enthusiasts could discuss Pete's music, Clive James' lyrics, and related matters. It was christened "Midnight Voices" after a phrase in the song "Payday Evening" - "In midnight voices softer than a dove's / We shall talk superbly of our lost loves."
The next get-together for these folks, now calling themselves "Midnight Voices" or "MVs" after the mailing list, was a members-only reception held after a public concert promoted by Steve and Carole in 1998 at Buxton Opera House. In 2000 MV Andy Love organised an event at a school in Milton Keynes, and the similarity of its format to the original Field of Dreams (lots of Pete Atkin, supporting acts, and plenty of socialising) led to it being called the School of Dreams, or SoD2k. So, when MVs Mike and Mel Powell ran a similar event the next year in a cinema in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, it was inevitable that it should be known as CoD.
Getting the idea now?
In 2002 Pete Atkin and Clive James embarked on an ambitious national tour, with Clive talking about the songs and reading from his works, and Pete singing the songs. They repeated this in 2003, this time taking in Australia as well. With Pete thus heavily engaged, the subject of XoDs somewhat fell by the wayside.
Although I'm a comparatively recent recruit to the Voices (March 2003, I think) I thought this was a pity. A handful of MVs who happen to be at a concert snatching a few minutes' hurried conversation during the interval in a theatre bar is no substitute for a proper get-together. And so we come to -
THIS YEAR'S EVENT
Of course the big event in the MV world so far this year has been the transmutation of the Midnight Voices mailing list into the public MV forum you are now browsing in. But behind the scenes something else has been happening, namely the organising by me (Richard Bleksley), with plenty of advice and help from veteran XoD organiser Andy Love, of another MV gathering, this time in Sutton, Surrey. Sutton is a suburb on the southern edge of London, about halfway between central London and the M25 (Chris Rea's "Road to Hell").
The gathering was originally going to be held in a theatre and was therefore christened ToD; but it eventually became clear that the event was not going to be viable in such a large venue. Just as I was about to give up entirely I managed to find a smaller venue (see below), and since this was a pub, the name naturally changed to PoD. The date is set for Saturday 6 November and doors will open at 1.00pm.
I'M NEW HERE - CAN I COME?
Of course you can. This is a Midnight Voices' gathering, and as soon as you register to post on this forum yoi're a Midnight Voice. Booking info is not in this instalment, but will follow soon.
The Woodstock is a pub on the outskirts of Sutton located at a crossroads, the junction of Epsom Road / Stonecot Hill (A24), and Sutton Common Road / Tudor Drive (B279). The function room which we will be using has a separate entrance, facing Sutton Common Road and near to a small carpet shop that sits in the middle of the pub's car park - it used to be the off-licence.
This room was once much used for gigs, its greatest moment of glory probably being when the embryo Rolling Stones were booed off the stage at one of their very first engagements. Nowadays it is used mostly for wedding receptions and the like.
The room has its own bar (which will be open from the time you arrive until 11.30pm) with a small lounge area. In consideration of those who object to smoking, would those who smoke please confine this activity to the bar area.
Not sure of your way to Sutton? The AA has a good free route planner on its website(www.theaa.com). Enter your destination as "Stonecot Hill SM3" if you're going direct to the venue. If you're going to a hotel first, the addresses are given below in the "Accommodation" section.
The pub has a fairly large car park, but not large enough for all of us. The A24 is red-lined, but there should be space in Sutton Common Road, Tudor Drive (across the lights), or adjacent back streets.
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT
The easiest way from within London is by Underground - the Northern Line to Morden. Cross the road outside the station and catch an 80 or 93 bus to the Woodstock. The stop you want is just before the first set of traffic lights after the dual carriageway narrows into a single carriageway.
There is an "overground" station at Morden South. Trains from here go to Wimbledon, Tooting, Blackfriars, King's Cross, and even Luton and Bedford, but the service is not very frequent and the trains stop running before midnight. If you do come this way, catch an 80 or 93 bus to the Woodstock from the bus stop right outside the station (same side of the road). See preceding para for where to get off.
Local bus routes that pass the Woodstock - 80, 93, 413.
Even if you have driven to your hotel, taking a bus from there to the venue is an idea well worth considering, especially if you are intending to imbibe alcoholic beverages - no worries about parking or drink-driving, and since Red Ken's public transport initiatives all local services run until after midnight. I am therefore dividing the list of accommodation below into two parts - those that are within easy reach of a bus stop from which a bus can be caught direct to the venue, and those that are not.
ON BUS ROUTE
Epsom Road, Morden, Surrey SM4 5PH
0870 191 1950 or book online
The nearest accommodation to the venue - just half a mile north along the A24. It shares its site with a Harvester pub / restaurant. For some reason best known to Travelodge, it is listed as "Wimbledon" on their website. Since JtJ made this conspicuously public both on the forum and the mailing list, it's probably fully booked by now, but you could try.
Bus routes 80. 93
Gibson Road, Sutton, Surrey SM1 2RF
020 8770 1311 or book online
Easily the largest hotel in the area, situated in Sutton town centre about one and a half miles from the venue.
Bus route 80
THE THATCHED HOUSE HOTEL
135-141 Cheam Road, Sutton, Surrey SM1 2BN
020 8642 3131
A fairly large private hotel (actually about half-a-dozen semis knocked together!), just outside Sutton town centre. If you prefer something a bit less corporate this might be right for you.
Bus route 413
EATON COURT HOTEL
49 Eaton Road, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5ED
020 8643 6766
Bus route 80
ALBION PRIVATE HOTEL
12 Albion Road, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5TF
020 8642 6689
Bus route 80
These two are private hotels situated in adjacent back streets near the main road south from Sutton Station
249-263 The Broadway, London SW19 4SW
020 8543 4222
Bus route 93
A bit further away, just south of the centre of Wimbledon, but the 93 bus stops right outside. Easy navigation by car, too
NOT ON BUS ROUTE
NONSUCH PARK HOTEL
355 London Road, Ewell, Epsom KT17 2DE
020 8393 0771
Easy navigation - about 2 miles south of the venue straight along the A24
ASHLING TARA HOTEL
44 & 50 Rose Hill, Sutton, Surrey SM1 3EU
020 8641 6142
A private hotel just north of Sutton town centre
272 Kingston Road, Ewell, Epsom, Surrey KT19 0SH
0870 990 6466 or book online
Listed as "Epsom," though nowhere near Epsom town. A bit further away, but the navigation is fairly easy.