May 9, 2014

The BIBA Conference is as close to an annual calendar highlight as the UK insurance industry gets. This year, the event returns to Manchester to create once again an atmosphere best described, according to BIBA CEO Steve “Walter” White, as “like Butlins for brokers – with all the fun that implies.”

As if a two-day conference for insurance people wasn’t already funny enough, Insurance Age adds to the hilarity each year with a light-weighted look at the proceedings in the form of a series of web-based video segments collectively branded as Biba Fever (a witty play on the popular phrase Beaver Fever, a bawdy colloquialism denoting the condition of a person either temporarily or permanently overcome with an urgent desire to achieve sexual congress with one or more members of the fair sex).

In the first episode of this year’s Biba Fever, bravely sponsored by fun-loving insurers L=V= whose Phil Bunter and Larry Michaels appear as guest pundits, is now up on the Age website. With former Age man Andy Peas having recently abandoned a promising comedy career for the unremitting dourness of a news agency, the onus of mirth-provision falls on the shoulders of Age editor Emmanuel Kenneling and Incisive Media editor in chief Jonathan Swifty, the man they are already calling the new David Worsfold.

Kenneling adopts an engagingly dry deadpan delivery, cunningly borrowed from his real-life everyday demeanour, while Mr Swifty does something else. Exactly what is not entirely clear, but it does appear to involve deploying a mind-numbingly comprehensive knowledge of Mancunian popular music of recent decades to create pre-prepared “punning” links and questions along the lines of the following:

“First of all, I really want to find out why nobody seems bummed out that BIBA is returning its melting pot of a caravan – sorry conference – to Manchester. Phil. Why do Manchester BIBAs seem to rank high and eclipse those in London?”

Kennelling predicts that, whereas brokers might have been wailing and gnashing their teeth at BIBA 2013, they’ll be in a more optimistic mood this year and will be going round “looking up with a smile on their face”. He argues that Manchester is a good place to get a lot of insurance people together – quoting Mr White’s ‘Butlins for brokers’ analogy and enthusing that you can walk into any bar during the event, throw a stone and hit a broker – although he warns that this may be illegal.

Michaels challenges this, suggesting that it may in fact be legal to throw stones at brokers in Manchester (perhaps in the same way it is legal to kill a Scotsman with a bow and arrow in York six days a week), going on to note cheerfully that “everybody comes to Manchester feeling happy and leaves with a headache.” “I’m looking forward to bumping into people and bars and restaurants,” he says, warning that ladies should get in training and wear flat shoes on the way home.

BIBA Fever’s major news scoop comes with the revelation that there will be sausage rolls and coffee, as well as booze, and lots of “good games” on L/V?’s distinctive green and white stand, along with their instantly recognisable cuddly toy. “My dog loves coming home from BIBA,” says Bunter, “and ripping furry toys apart.”

Meanwhile Post reporter Katie Rarrirer drops by to get some “BIBA virgin” advice from Phil and Larry. She says she’s excited about rumours of a BIBA pizza eating competition and says she wants to get into the corners of the conference hall where all the good stuff will be hiding.

If all of that doesn’t whet your appetite…

biba fever

Click here to watch video.


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