Whistle while you work

CONTRARY to popular opinion, ministers generally don’t have expensive gifts thrust upon them whenever they perform official duties. I did, however, leave my engagement in the Peak District this afternoon with an unusual memento – a British Rail train guard’s whistle.

It’s not that it was a gift or anything; in fact it was a prop for a photo where I put the whistle in my mouth and waved a big green flag (dignified, I know). But since I got utterly soaking wet in the process, I felt entirely justified in telling the organisers I was keeping at least one of the props, and I was never going to get the flag on the plane.

Anyway, the (barely) interesting fact about the whistle is its manufacturer: Acme. Now, am I the only person who thought Acme only made rocket-powered roller-skates and giant magnets to enable desert-based scavengers to try (unsuccessfully) to catch their prey? Turns out it’s a real company. And I feel strangely disappointed that they made something as mundane as train whistles.


Filed under Department for Transport, TV, Whimsy

17 responses to “Whistle while you work

  1. anon

    and they have quite a funky website …. http://www.acmewhistles.co.uk/

  2. Quentinthecrisp

    And I thought acme was something you got all over your face when you were a teenager.
    How times have changed.

  3. Quentinthecrisp

    I think your best mate Iain Dale has got another of those Meme: things for you to blog about.

  4. John

    So whilst we’ve been working hard today you’ve been playing Tom-as-the-tank-engine?
    Was his friend Gordon there too 🙂

  5. Johnny Norfolk

    Perhaps you could send it to Brown and find out what he thinks about. He would probaly think it was a blocked pea shooter that had shrunk in the wash.

  6. richard

    A quick search shows that there a quite a lot of companies called Acme;

    Unfortunately none of them seem to make rocket jet-packs or portable holes which is a touch disappointing.

  7. Liz

    Acme surely makes those anvils which fell on Wile E. Coyote? Also – plane? from the Peak District?

  8. I seem to remember that the whistle industry was very big in Birmingham in the 19th century as a result of the expansion of the police force – it was today’s equivalent of the radio.

    Lots of people know that…….!

  9. As is often the way the mundane can actually be very important.

    Many of the privatised companies initially abandoned the use of whistles as being “old fashioned” and time-keeping went to pieces.

    On those routes where management has reintroduced whistles and encouraged their use PPM has improved.

    Strangely enough whistles actually empower staff making them aware that they play a critical role, through efficient train despatch, in delivering a right time railway.

    By-the-by impressed that you travelled to Hope by train. Sorry we didn’t get a chance to chat.

  10. Surprised that you hadn’t heard of the Acme Thunderer – the referee’s favourite. Has yours got a ‘pea’ in it to generate the correct vibrato? As I know from junior rugby reffing an Acme does wonders for your self esteem.

    And it does worry me how at railway PR events someone always has to wave a green flag. Does anyone ceremonially pull the chocks away at airline PR functions?

    Still that’s one of the products of the Captain’s first employer in the background. Probably built before you were born and still going strong. Aaah, English Electric!

  11. I can confirm that my new trophy does, in fact, have a pea in it.

  12. You’re just taking the p*** now, aren’t you?

  13. I was the photographer snapping Tom in these pictures and would like to say thanks to him for being such a good sport in such appalling weather – and being good humoured and patient enough to pose for more out in the rain when asked.

    Some politicians display the temperament of supermodels when it comes to photo-calls, whereas Tom is always a pleasure to deal with.

    See you next time Tom…


  14. Are you calling me a media tart?

  15. No, Holly was pictured holding the tray of media tarts!

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