A Top Letter
And an excellent reply
We offer the Vulture Central tip of the hat today to toy train outfit Bigjigs for its audacious bid to run the UK's West Coast Mainline rail franchise. For those of you not up to speed on the West Coast Mainline fiasco, entertain yourselves with this blow-by-blow account down at the Beeb as to how the nation that invented the …
Well briefly, Minister, I am the Permanent Under Secretary of State, known as the Permanent Secretary. Woolley here is your Principal Private Secretary. I too have a Principal Private Secretary and he is the Principal Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary. Directly responsible to me are ten Deputy Secretaries, 87 Under Secretaries and 219 Assistant Secretaries. Directly responsible to the Principal Private Secretaries are plain Private Secretaries, and the Prime Minister will be appointing two Parliamentary Under-Secretaries and you will be appointing your own Parliamentary Private Secretary.
Hacker: Can they all type?
Sir Humphrey: None of us can type. Mrs Mackay types: she's the secretary.
A private secretary is a mid level civil servant assigned to a specific minister with a remit to express his ministers' views, manage the ministerial diary, prioritise and correspond with people who wish to talk to the minister, and most importantly, to record a non political factual notes of decisions and events.
> "to record a non political factual notes of decisions and events."
I think you mean they record factual notes from a wide menu of choices of what was discussed in a meeting, and leave a clear record of what was decided, with a clear concience. Assuming they have a taste for such luxuries, of course.
I'm sorry, a number of large US corporations cross-licence patents on that to one another. That's why the US Department of Defense spends so much on stuff that doesn't work, and why our own dear Civil Service does the same. Just substitute "savings projection" for "revenue projection" and you've covered 90% of tenders.
In the good old days I would have applauded both the original letter, and the reply. These days... I'm old and cynical, and see it as an attempt on a clever self-promotion / viral marketing campaign for the above mentioned toy thingy. Which, if true, is still worth a pint, as it's original, haven't seen that one before. In which case, I wish to congratulate the minds behind it, particularly for their attention to detail, such as using this washed-out colour home printer to produce the headed paper. The one on the original letter, not one on the reply, from a secretary of the secretary.
I'm with you on that. If there had been some withering satire in there, I'd have supported the viral thing. eg if they'd quoted figures on failures and inefficiencies in the private rail sector.
What I was expecting was Hornby or someone making a public stand against the prostitution of our cherished industrial heritage, the degradation of rolling stock, the poor maintenance of lines etc. Instead I just got told "there's this toy company you've never heard of, and they're getting cheap publicity by spamming the civil service..."
Or for the ultimate full house you could do worse than suffer on First Capital Connect into Kings Cross.
Dirty, late running, expensive and generally shit.
The bod they have on twitter does have a sense of humour and some of the paid trolls can be amusing as well but thats the main highlight of what they offer.
First bus Aberdeen have higher prices than elsewhere in the country compared to the area covered.
The drivers regularly go on strike, with the last series of them planned for the run up to Christmas being averted by a pay rise. Not that they need it as they are the second highest paid bus drivers in the UK, London being highest. Throw in all their benefits too (free gym membership and the likes) and its a bloody good deal.
But I suppose, when someone has to get a job driving, the rest of their skill set must have been low.
Richie: It's not very sexy, is it?
Eddie: No. I must say, I expected a lot more from "The Furry Honeypot Adventure".
Richie: I think this is for kids you know Eddie. I think those Hussein brothers saw you coming again. Well, what else did you get?
Eddie: "Big Jugs"
Richie: [excited] "Big Jugs"! All right!........" [reads box] ".......a history of pottery in the nineteenth century."
Unlike Bigjigs, the Island of Sodor has many documented (even captured on video) accidents. Staff ignoring procedures and a culture of cutting corners. There have been multiple run away locos, several bridge collapses, numerous trains hitting buildings and other infrastructure. It's only by the grace of God nobody has been killed.
As you can see they have nothing to differentiate themselves from the existing companies.
I love the sense of humour of the toy company and the equal humour in the response from the DfT.
I am a bit disturbed, though, that I didn't see anything odd in the title Toy train company bids for West Coast Mainline and had to read into the letter to realise that it was a spoof.
Is it my befuddled brain, or has life got so strange that I could be forgiven for taking it seriously?
From the photos, it looks like Bigjigs makes clones of the classic Swedish Brio train system (http://www.brio.net/ToPlay/3_years/Railway_Sets.aspx), which I recall playing with back when in the kindergarten in the 1960's.
I guess Brio has had some design patent expire, since many toy shops now offer compatible no-name tracks and rolling stock. Much cheaper but often not up to the same quality standards, based on personal experience with supplying my own kid (don't know about Bigjigs, it is not available here). But it is nice that the non-Brio Thomas the Tank Engine locomotives he was a fan of could run on Brio tracks. Industry standard matter.
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