Here we come!

July 9, 2009

This coming weekend (11-12 July 2009) Bankstone will lead a flotilla of 15 monkey bikes 250 miles round famous film locations in Yorkshire to raise money for charity Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA).

Starting from Bankstone’s Brighouse headquarters at 9am on Saturday 11 July and stopping overnight in Scarborough, the bikes will arrive back at base around teatime on Sunday. En route they will be stopping in the following locations:

The Piece Hall, Halifax Brassed Off Sat 9.20 am
Cow & Calf, Ilkley Calendar Girls Sat 10.30 am
Aysgarth Falls, Aysgarth Robin Hood Prince of Thieves Sat 11.50 am
The Golden Lion, Northallerton The Way to the Stars Sat 1.00 pm
Herriot Museum, Thirsk All Creatures Great and Small Sat 1.40 pm
Coffee Bean Cafè, Scarborough Little Voice Sat 3.10 pm
Whitby Abbey, Whitby Dracula Sun 9.25 am
Goathland Station, Goathland Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Sun 10.10 am
Castle Howard, Brideshead Revisited Sun 11.20 am
Leeds United, Elland Road The Damned United Sun 12.40 pm

Taking part along with Bankstone are other firms including motorcycle hire and repair firm BLD, Premier Medical Group and The Davy Group. The flotilla of 15 undersized car-boot sized bikes will be accompanied by support vehicles carrying spare bikes, mechanics, theatrical costumes, sandwiches etc.

At each stop along the way Bankstone and co will be kitting themselves out with appropriate costumes and props and‚ very approximately‚ re-enacting pivotal scenes from the films in question on two wheels.

Anyone who would like to support this unique charity fundraising exercise can visit charity donations website Just Giving where they can not only make a gift-aided donation, but also watch a video of last year’s event for a taste of what is in store.

Paul Gowland, fundraising director of YAA, comments “It costs us £7,200 per day to keep our helicopters and highly trained paramedics in the air. Monkey Moviestars is certainly one of the more unusual fund raising initiatives we have seen! We are delighted the idea seems to be taking off in such a big way and wish everyone involved the very best of luck. Our sincere thanks goes to Dickon and his team for their continued support of our life-saving charity”

Dickon Tysoe adds: “We are hoping to raise around £10,000 for the YAA. There are lots of different ways for anyone who would like to help to get involved: sponsoring the participants, making a donation, distributing mobile phone recycling bags, or simply coming out to cheer us on along the way. If you would like to take part in any way ‚ either as an individual or as a company ‚ please call me on 0870 442 7462 or email dtysoe@bankstone.co.uk.”

For more on Yorkshire Air Ambulance see: www.yaa.org.uk


July 8, 2009

Bankstone News has long suspected that bikers are nobler in spirit than your average punter. Such is their indifference to self-interest, in fact, that‚ according to a survey from motorcycle insurance broker Devitt‚ only 55% of bikers would like to see road tax abolished for motorcyclists.

This self-denial makes an edifying and inspiring contrast to the shameful 100% of Bankstone News editors who would like to see all taxes abolished for Bankstone News editors.

But it doesn’t stop there. Only 19% of 1000 bikers quizzed by Devitt thought it would be a good idea for the Government to offer tax breaks to make motorcycles more affordable. And a mere 17% liked the sound of free parking for bikes.

At this point bikers’ selflessness seemed to be stretching the bounds of the plausible. Had Devitt, perhaps been posing its questions before the bikers in question had removed their helmets and switched off their engines?

Lugubrious sartorialist Jack Dee used to do a routine about being pulled over by a cop while driving in the bus lane. “Are you a bus?” the officer enquires archly. To which the dour one responds: “You haven’t been in Traffic long, have you?” Little chance of such scenarios arising among the two-wheeled fraternity, one suspects, what with only a quarter of bikers believing they should be allowed in bus lanes.

Prompted, no doubt, by almost equally unselfish motives (concern for the environment, desire to reduce CO2 emissions, that sort of thing), Devitt is promoting a  Keep Britain Biking’ campaign to persuade the government to introduce financial incentives to motivate Britain to carry on biking.

Despite the prevailing indifference shown by those quizzed in its own survey, the firm doggedly maintains that 90% of its customers want to be bribed to keep biking.

Hmmm… what about free bike insurance provided direct by the Government‚ maybe that would help.


July 8, 2009

Don’t come at the Admiral from astern! The nautical but nice car insurer is not amused by the rising tide of rear-end collisions on the UK’s roads‚ nor by the suspicious tide of whiplash injuries in their wake.

The 420,000 head to tail collisions on our roads each year account for a quarter of all RTAs, costing the insurance industry half a billion pounds in the process. And with the trend heading only one way, 2009 looks set to be another bumper Year of the Rear.

Commenting on the fact that rear-end collisions have failed to follow the UK’s overall declining trend in accident frequencies, Admiral ventures the suggestion that drivers may be paying insufficient attention to the road ahead.

One in ten of these rear-end accidents results in whiplash claims from vehicle occupants, Admiral says. Whiplash claims alone‚ many of which the insurer suspects may be fraudulent, cost the industry £1.9 billion a year and account for 75 per cent of all personal injury claims.

“Pull up to my bumper, baby,” urged scary popstress Grace Jones in her 1981 hit of that name, “in your long black limousine.”

Wonder if she ever got whiplash.


July 8, 2009

Concluding our occasional series looking at the film locations slated for (questionably appropriate) commemoration in this coming weekend’s charity epic Monkey Moviestars, we turn our gaze to Scarborough’s Coffee Bean Café, one time haunt of the eponymous heroine of the most successful ever British movie, 1998’s £7m grossing comedy, Little Voice.

The obvious location to choose might have been Little Voice’s house in the film, The Hoff Music Shop. Sadly this has since been demolished. OK, then, what about the Rendezvous nightclub? Since demolished, we learn from the ever helpful‚ if hard to pronounce without sounding like a drunken old Colonel – Scarborough Borough Council Tourist Information Centre.

Fast running out of options, Bankstone hit upon the Coffee Bean Café‚ which offers our 15-strong cavalcade of monkeybikists the chance to refresh themselves with a nice cup of tea at the end of day one‚ before embarking on a hard night’s carousing at the Scarborough Grand Hotel.

The plot of Little Voice sees agoraphobic, selectively mute Laura ‚ the titular LV‚ played by Britain’s greatest living actress Jane Horrocks permanently ensconced in her bedroom obsessively honing impressions of the vintage songstresses whose records her late beloved father amassed before being heckled and cuckolded to death by his wife (see below).

Lured onto the beer-tacky stage of the aforementioned Mr Boo’s (proprietor Jim Broadbent) by (my name is) Michael Caine as a washed up would-be promoter clutching for his last shot at the big time‚ while also shagging LV’s brassy booze-soaked abusive mother, Brenda Blethyn‚ she briefly overcomes her stage fright by imagining her father as the audience to wow the crowd with a succession of bravura performances.

Refusing to reprise her act for a London agent, she retreats into her private world, throws Caine down stairs, inadvertently starts a fire which rages through the house, while she retreats to the top floor to be with her records and impersonations and Caine retires to Boo’s to perform a drunken, defeated expletive-laden ‘It’s Over’ with full orchestral accompaniment, leaving LV’s tentative “love interest” the pigeon-fondling Ewan McGregor, doing another outstandingly dodgy Yorkshire accent, to rescue her both literally from the fire (with the aid of a mechanical hoist) and metaphorically from her dead end life.

The film ends with Horrocks losing her precious record collection but rediscovering her identity as Laura, finally standing up to her mother, and helping McGregor “exercise” his pigeons. All of which Bankstone’s charity fundraising monkey boys will be faithfully recreating on undersized motorbikes this weekend. Probably.

July 8, 2009

More from those freewheelin’ funsters at the Motor Cycle Industry Association, who, in their latest press release, bent over backwards to hollow themselves out into a veritable mine of information on matters bikes and biking:

“Why do bikers bike?” the Associates asked themselves rhetorically. This calls for a survey, somebody inevitably decided. And, lo, there was a survey. So what is it people like about riding a Motor Cycle?

Is it because they want to go fast?

Not really (4%).

Because they are looking for thrills?

Not so much (4%).

Er, for the adventure?

Not really (4%).

I know: it’s because they want to save money and/or can’t afford a proper vehicle with the standard number of wheels!

You are still pitifully wide of the mark (9%).

Look, this is all getting pretty tedious.

This is Bankstone News, remember!

Could you maybe just tell me?

Well, since you ask, the top three things bikers like about biking are, number one: Freedom (26%), number two: practicality (23%), number three: it’s a friendly form of transport (18%). Others like it because it is fun (11%).

Thank you for those startling revelations. Got anything else?

Well, the same You Gov survey from which the above gems were excavated reveals that one third of 24-34 year olds are jealous of motorcycles passing freely though stationary traffic, as are one fifth of all Southerners (stop whingeing and buy a bike, we say without even being sponsored by the MCIA or Devitt). Car drivers and bus passenger are the most jealous of motorcycles passing freely though.

Enough with the jealousy already!

OK, how about this nugget: One-third of commuters are ‘sometimes’ late for work because of traffic and congestion, whereas 67% of bikers are “never” late for work!

Correct me if I am wrong, but 100 minus 67 leaves 33, making bikers precisely average in their late-for-work propensity.

You may have a point. But I bet they could get there on time if they wanted! Oh, hang on, here’s some solid gold statistics to get your teeth into:

FACT: The active UK rider population is 1.5 million and an estimated 3.8 million people in the UK have a driving licence with a moped/motorcycle entitlement.

FACT: 14% of the people who took their test in 2007/08 were women: 12,061 of them in all, compared with 75,884 men.

FACT: 17% more people passed their test in 2007/08 than in 2006/07 and
20% more people passed their test in 2008/09 than in 2007/08.

FACT: Motorcycle commuters can cut their journeys by 12% compared with car drivers – up to 34% in London (Source: Regional Transport Statistics 2008).

FACT: A typical scooter consumes between 55% and 81% less fuel than a car on the same journey.

FAT: The motorcycle industry in the UK employs more than 15,000 people and turns over in excess of £3 billion a year.

So we should all get out there on 15th July for the MCIA-sponsored National Ride to Work Day.


July 3, 2009

As regular readers will know (see many previous stories), the weekend of 11-12th July sees Bankstone’s flotilla of monkey bikes touring Yorkshire’s famous film locations to raise money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Part of the fun will be recreating scenes from the famous films in question. We have some of the costumes lined up already‚ but urgently need more. Can you (yes you!) help with any of the following:

Miners: Hard hat, lamp and boiler suit
Brass instruments: These will only be taken from their cases for the photo.
Naked lady suit: We may have to buy one but we have a wig!
Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck: You have all seen these on TV and know what we need ‚ please provide a complete outfit including weapons if possible. We have one plastic knife so far!
RAF Uniform: This film was set in WWII so any military uniforms from this era would be great.
Inflatable sheep: We have already been promised vet and vet nurses outfits.
Harry Potter: Robes and wands, we have already been promised a broomstick!
Night club singer: Cheesy tuxedos and a microphone on a stand
Dracula: Black robes and fangs.
Brideshead: Blazers (striped if possible), trousers, straw boaters and a teddy bear.
Leeds United: shirts and shorts.

All offers of assistance gratefully received. Please contact Dickon Tysoe (dtysoe@bankstone.co.uk)


July 3, 2009

Top Gear is a national institution. Its role in contemporary culture and society extends far beyond covering cars on TV. Top Gear embodies and validates the spirit of brash male egotism with gleeful zest and panache.

How sadly predictable, then that a bunch of women should now be making a fuss just because raffishly tousled presenter James May suggested on air that teenage males facing problems buying motor insurance should pass themselves off as their fathers.

Some lady-journalist called Jill Insley took time off from more suitably feminine activities to pen a piece denouncing May for this harmless and helpful hint to would-be junior fraudsters, roping in Hayley Parsons the lady-CEO of gocompare.com to join her shrill outcry.

The technical term for the little ruse proposed by the romantically shabby Mr May, Ms Insley pointed out (in a piece no Top Gear viewer will have seen, since it appeared in lefty rag The Guardian), is fronting.

Ms Parsons chimed in earnestly with the observation that, “fronting is a common fraud and we would urge parents to avoid the practice as, if found out, the consequences could be severe.”

For heaven’s sake ladies, where’s your sense of humour?!

All he said was: “It soon dawned on us that the only realistic way of getting covered when you are 17 is by going on your parents’ insurance. So we got back on the phones pretending to be dad.”

July 3, 2009

In the punning near-equivalent of trying his luck in Hull, Aviva survivor Patrick Snowball will brave the heat of the CEO seat at Australian insurer Suncorp.

It’s the sort of thing you couldn’t script, which may explain Snowball’s comment that “Mr Story and the Board have been very open about the challenges Suncorp faces.” He also claims improbably that “My family and I are looking forward to relocating to Australia and setting up home in Brisbane”

No doubt keen not to melt their new recruit with too warm a welcome, Suncorp stressed that they had carried out an “exhaustive national and international search” before appointing him to bring about a hoped-for period of “fundamental change and renewed growth as the Group reshapes itself to respond to the challenges of the external market.”


July 3, 2009

A new report from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Pricewaterhoopers (PwC) suggests a somewhat improved outlook for the UK financial services sector, with insurance leading the way.

The rate of decline in both income and profitability showed “signs of easing” in the three months to June and cautious optimism is returning for the first time in two years.

Insurance companies (life companies in particular but general insurers too) are the most optimistic about growth in business over the coming quarter. Banks and building societies still face challenges (with the latter hoping for stabilisation at best), while securities traders and investment managers expect recent improvements in their business to be short-lived, with declining volumes expected to resume next quarter.

According to Andrew Kail, UK Insurance Lad at PrizewaterhorseCoopers: “The industry is hoping for a recovery in fortunes following recent rises in the equity markets and some positive news on the housing market. Expense reduction and customer retention are still the order of the day.”

Some firms, the report notes, are shelving recruitment plans and bracing themselves for a potentially increased level of claims driven by recession.

Insurers saw falls in both premiums and profits over the past three months, despite expectations of strong growth, but “continue to feel positive about their outlook”.

Brokers experienced some growth in profitability during the quarter – although less than in the previous three months ‚ and have seen fewer job losses. They now anticipate improving profitability to gather pace in the coming months.


July 3, 2009

The Motor Cycle Industry Association has welcomed the news that almost 100 fewer motorcyclists were killed on Britain’s roads in 2008 than in 2007.

“Just” 493 motorcyclists were killed in 2008, the lowest number since 1996 (when 440 riders died) and just 26 more than the 1994-98 average of 467 despite motorcycle use increasing by more than 44% over the same period.

The 16% reduction in motorcycle fatalities compares with a 14% reduction for all road users. The number of riders killed or seriously injured is down 10 percent on 2007, and the total number of motorcycle casualties is 8 per cent lower than in 2007.

The MCIA believes Police BikeSafe schemes, intelligent enforcement based on engagement, engineering improvements based on the IHIE Motorcycling Guidelines and the commitment from trainers to improving standards have all contributed to a safer motorcycling environment.

However, the MCIA says there is no room for complacency and calls for:

– National funding for BikeSafe.

– Implementation of the OECD recommendations that motorcycling must be fully included in transport policy and infrastructure management.

– Commitment to training, not just for motorcyclists but also including a component on awareness and acceptance of motorcyclists in training for all road users.

– The new Safe Road User qualification should include a powered two wheel module and completion of such should entitle young people to take an abridged motorcycle theory test.

– Commitment from highways authorities and local government to work with motorcyclists to develop and implement programmes on safety issues that affect motorcycling communities.


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