YORKSHIRE poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan has written a new poem for the National Railway Museum’s trainspotting season.
Performed against the backdrop of historical locomotives at the NRM in York yesterday, the poet's specially commissioned creation entitled ‘Love Me Tender’ was inspired by the museum’s appeal for personal stories from members of the trainspotting community. He is also co-curating an exhibit which will display these stories around the museum from September 26 until March 1.
Explaining his involvement in the new venture, the Darfield-born writer said: “Trains are my second home and my office space, my thinking room and my window on the world, so I’m really happy to be associated with this wonderful project.”
Amy Banks, interpretation developer at the NRM, said: “Ian’s emotive poem and the real stories from the tracks he is curating will help visitors of all ages understand the strong allure of spotting.
“Our ‘spotter’s stories’ are filled with humour and we have been overwhelmed by the care and attention that people have taken to share their memories with us.”
Ian McMillan is the latest artistic passenger involved in the project. The centrepiece of the trainspotting season is a new art commission by acclaimed artist Andrew Cross exploring the much misunderstood pastime.
With trainspotting traditionally understood as an activity for men clutching notebooks on station platforms, the new season aims to challenge people’s perceptions of the hobby through Andrew and Ian’s work.
The season is also encouraging families to experience the adventure and anticipation associated with trainspotting through a variety of activities including Great Hall and Station Hall trails and theatrical performances by street theatre troupe Platform 4.
The museum will once again be hosting their Locos in a Different Light event, part of the city wide Illuminating York festival which runs from October 29 - November 1. Those involved in the project hope the dramatic lighting and colour will allow visitors to see a selection of the best ‘spotters stories’ brought to life in a different way.
Those who would like to share their own trainspotting tales are able to do so through the museum’s website.
LOVE ME TENDER
It’s a late-night moment on a freezing station,
A notebook with one page to fill.
It’s a morning that trembles with anticipation
Of the signal, the whistle, the thrill
Of the number you thought that you’d never get
After days of frustration and weeks of regret.
It’s parents and kids on an endless quest,
A Sunday weighed down by the rain;
It’s the glow of a light rushing down from the West
And that beautiful, beautiful train
You now get the chance to tick off in the book
Through pure dedication and skill and good luck.
It’s a map of the system laid out like a dream
A story of numbers, and tales
Of epic encounters on days wreathed with steam
When the bright sun mined gold from the rails
And you ate your sandwiches on Platform 3
And the big book of engines was light on your knee.
It’s a life filled with moments that ring like a bell,
With elation, the thrill of the chase;
It’s a smile from your dad that says
‘Yes, all is well’
As he matches the grin on your face.
This is a hobby that never will pall.
Tomorrow’s a spotting day. Well, aren’t they all?