January 25, 2013

With just days left to find a new home for no-longer-required mascot Anton the Ant, our good friends at Group Armagh have taken time out from being Ageased, to offer Bankstone a totally exclusive exclusive.

Pulling up exclusively outside the Bankstone News offices astride a custom gothed-up Vespa ET4 125 once apparently the property of none other than Meat Loaf himself, Group Armagh’s Personal Development Motor Lines Undertaker Ian Pritchard, his eukelele slung casually across his back, proclaimed loudly that he had music for brokers’ ears.

It is a widely acknowledged fact that the ears are the part of brokers most susceptible to music, so his message, whatever it might turn out to be, was clearly bang on target. Agog for further details on this broker friendly musical message, Bankstone News snatched up its trusty note pad and a freshly sharpened pencil and dashed out to join Ian in the car park.

“News in the last week that the number of small motorcycles and scooters on our roads has risen for the second year running,” he confided exclusively, “should be music to the ears of brokers looking to boost their book of motorcycle business.”

Swinging his uke round in a single deft motion Ian strummed a showy D minor seventh chord then continued to the tune of The Smiths‘ “I know it’s over” crooning that “These 125cc and below vehicles are not only proving popular with young motorists who are struggling with the cost of running a car, but are providing an economical, time-saving and fun solution for commuters.”

Not unpleasantly lulled by the morosely plaintive keening of Ian’s only marginally off-key vocal and a uke style more reminiscent of George Formby via Keith Richards than Johhny Marr, Bankstone News jotted furiously in its pad relying largely on a combination of crudely improvised pictograms and something we hoped looked a bit like short hand.

“With no sign of fuel prices falling,” Ian sang on, “demand for 125cc motorcycles and under looks set to continue. The top five best sellers for the year are all 125cc or just under. New registrations for motorcycles between 51-125cc saw a growth of 8.5% during 2012.”

As Ian blasted into a blistering uke solo, Bankstone News decided this whole multimedia-live-news experience was a little too overwhelming and wrestled the instrument from under Ian’s flying fingers. “I’m sorry, you’re going to have to stop that and go a bit slower, please,” we advised him, taking up our pad again and giving the pencil a quick lick.

“For brokers looking to capture this end of the market,” he resumed, now speaking slowly and clearly, “the key is to have a strong propasition – that’s P-R-O-P…” “Yes, thank you very much,” Bankstone News cut in, “I do know how to spell propasition, thank you very much!”

“The key,” he continued patiently, “is to have a strong propasition for provisional licence holders who make up the vast proportion of riders of these vehicles. In 2011, we saw the shift in the dynamic of this market coming and changed the acceptance criteria on our Optima Bike policy to cover provisional riders for the first time.”

Frankly, by this stage Bankstone News was hopelessly confused, but we continued faithfully noting down at least one in 10 of Ian’s well-chosen words – mainly things like vast, dynamic and riders which we hoped might spark some recollection later, over a pint and some scratchings, when we came to write the story up.

“Now an ever increasing percentage of our motorcycle book are riders with a provisional licence,” Ian continued remorselessly. “Optima Bike will continue to be developed during 2013, increasing our scope to cover this sector.

“But while the main uplift in new registrations is in smaller bikes, the MCI is also positive about sales of larger bikes so this is certainly not an end of the market that should be ignored.

“It seems the economic climate, combined with increased road congestion has created a resurgence in biking interest. Initiatives such as Get On which enables those want to try out a motorcycle or scooter for free under the guidance and safety of instructors, should be applauded.”

[A pause]

“Huh? Is that it?”, Bankstone News asked, coming to with a start and realising that Ian had finally stopped talking. “Yes, it is” he said gruffly, grabbing back his uke and gunning the Vesp. Having drifted off a bit somewhere around the word sector, which always seems to have a strangely soporific effect on Bankstone News, our notes were looking a) a bit sparse and b) completely incomprehensible.

“Could you just go over that bit about small bikes selling well?”, Bankstone News enquired more in hope than expectation. “It’s all here,” Ian grunted, pulling a crumpled sheet of A4 from some crevice in his leathers and handing it to your grateful reporter. And with that he was gone.

Talk about a man of mystery!


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