Ukulele player Nick's song about Oxenholme railway station

FRUSTRATED commuter Nick Birbeck has written a song about Oxenholme railway station and the rail network in the region. Tired of problems and delays on the rail network in Cumbria and the north west, Nick entered the humorous tune into a song-writing competition. He is a member of the Bryce Street Strummers, a ukulele group based in Burneside, near Kendal, which organised the song-writing task.

He wrote the song – called Oxenholme Is The Station – following the long-running problems which have beset the rail system in the north west over the last two years, including delays and cancelled trains. “I spend a lot of time at Oxenholme. I drop my wife, Judith, off in the mornings and pick her up four nights a week,” said Nick, who recorded the song at King Sound Studios, at Tewitfield, Carnforth.

“A lot of things that are annoying about the railway are humorous at the same time. I thought ‘there is a song there somewhere’, although it’s not meant to be offensive to anyone. It is about daily life.

“I added an extra verse when we had all the problems with the Windermere line being shut. The railway line went from being irritating to humorous and back to irritating again.” Turn to page 83

Nick, a retired headteacher including a spell at Maryport’s Ellenborough Nursery School in the 1990s, has no plans to write another verse following the news that the Government is to take control of troubled rail company Northern, although he did add: “It will be several years before we see any difference.” He added: “Apart from being properly recorded and mixed, I have had bass added, plus some of my own harmonies on the last chorus. But most importantly I recorded a large selection of train and station sounds at Oxenholme which are running in the background – from the very beginning as a train starts to leave the station.

“I love the castors of the suitcase running down the platform which is actually in stereo from one side to the other! But, finally, keep listening a few seconds after the song stops – I think it may amuse!” Since the mid-80s Nick has spent a number of years singing baritone with groups in the Kendal area, including Staveley Opera, performing songs by composers such as Gilbert and Sullivan, but he is now returning to the ukuele – an instrument he first took up at school in Bury, in Lancashire.

“Everybody at school had guitars, and I just thought I would do something different,” he said. “I put it away for the best part of 40 years. I only started taking it terribly seriously about five or six years ago. I knew a group had been set up in Burneside.

With the ukulele you are singing and playing all the time, so you get more bang for your buck.” And Nick has also been encouraged by the rise in popularity of the ukuele in recent years, with many groups springing up and performing. “The ukulele is a very versatile instrument.

You can play anything from folk to rock and roll,” he said. “In the late 50s and 60s everyone wanted to play guitar because it was what everyone else was doing. Now everyone wants a ukulele because they see so many other people playing one.

“You can learn two or three chords to play a song and sing along very quickly. You can teach someone to play a simple song in half an hour even if they have never touched an instrument before.” And he added: “I am recording a few odd songs at the moment.

I dare say in due course it will end up on an album or the internet!” You can hear the song at Oxenholme Is The Station

If you want to see the nation It’s a wonderful way to everywhere Oxenholme is the station

If you want to see the nation Get your tickets now while the station’s still there…… If you try to park your car you’re so out of luck

The entrance will be blocked by a 20′ truck And when you get in it’s no surprise To find the car park’s full up as it’s not the right size….

See the happy couple with their rucksacks in hand You’d think that they were off to see the Promised Land But they’re headed off to Burnley on the 8.22

And that’s not a promising thing to do…. The Japanese tourists are here en masse With their volume of luggage you can hardly pass

They’re shivering now and it isn’t getting hotter But they’ll hot-foot down the line to find Beatrix Potter In the morning it’s so busy with the daily commuters

Plugged in to their iPhones and their Apple computers They stand there in their suits looking terribly smart But they’re seeking motivation from the Caffeine-Rush cart

The Windermere train is on Platform 3 It’s the prettiest line that you’ll ever see I bought a single ticket and it cost me a fiver

But it seems I’m on a bus – ‘cos they can’t find a driver …. You hear the noise coming down from Platform 1 Everybody’s ready, is it time to get on?

It’s not the train a-coming now they’ve suddenly found But the castors of a suitcase that’s homeward bound Now the train’s at the platform, you need to get on

You’re looking for the carriage which is suddenly gone

By the time you’ve found the right one you’ve run out of time

But they blow the whistle briskly and it’s off down the line

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