Onesie day for air rescue charity

December 14, 2012

Christmas is the perfect time to be thinking charitable thoughts. If your charity juices are starting to brim in Pavlovian anticipation of a full-scale overflowing come Yuletide proper, perhaps you’d like to spare a thought for Kerry Garner, West Yorkshire Regional Fundraiser with lifesaving as-seen-on-TV air ambulance operating charity YAA.

Poor unsuspecting Kerry has rashly committed herself to calling in on Bankstone HQ on 19 December, when Bankstone staff are being sponsored to wear romper suits, or onesies, as they are now generally known for an entire day.

For one day only, the Bankstone Team will be swapping ill-fitting slacks and Mötörhead teeshirts for these cosy but questionably practical one-piece garments to raise money that will help keep YAA’s choppers in the air.

What manner of spectacle will greet the unfortunate Kerry when she arrives? To save your mind from undirected bogglage, we present below a few visual pointers.

First up we have an artist’s impression of how Bankstone Supremo Dickon Tysoe will appear on the day (minus the specs – you’ll have to imagine those for yourself):

And here’s an idea of how Dickon’s Co-Supremo AJ “Andy” Jones will look, i.e. characteristically dapper:

With the heating turned up as high as it currently is, some members of staff will doubtless be opting for skimpier one-pieces such as that worn by Sean Connery in the epic adventure flick Zardoz or this other thing modelled by some wiry old hippy out shopping:

Other, female, team members will probably look at bit like this:

And not like this, because to suggest as much would be blatantly wrong on multiple simultaneous levels:

Speaking of sexy, which we weren’t obviously, just to be clear, Bankstone News editor Davy-Jane McManus will be sporting his famous transparent plastic onesie, which (since this is a family weekly email newsletter) we have chosen not to represent pictorially here.

Why not wear a onesie to work yourself on the 19th? (n.b. please don’t actually send us a list on the many perfectly sensible reasons why not). Get yourself sponsored (either to wear or promise not to wear a onesie for the day) or – if your friends and colleagues don’t respond well to last minute charity requests – simply cough up a fiver yourself and donate it to the YAA via our just online donation thing, which you will find by scrolling up a bit and looking over to the left this story.

Watch this space early in the new year for actual images.

In the meantime, here’s wishing you a very Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year from everyone (yes, everyone) at Bankstone News.

December 14, 2012

With Mum in hospital with a severe and possibly terminal case of whiplash, Dad’s attempts at staging Christmas single-handed weren’t going well. Having recently broken his left arm falling from a ladder whilst hanging mini festive lanterns from the eaves, Dad’s literally single-handed attempt at removing the turkey from the oven – after a couple of tumblers of sherry – left the bird on the floor and scalding hot turkey juice all down Dad’s thigh.

“Aroooo!”, cried Dad piteously. Staggering backward, he slipped on stray potato peelings and stumbled out blindly across the corridor into the lounge, there tripping over Son 1’s unopened Scalextrix set and crashing into an overlarge and – to Bankstone News’ taste – over-lavishly decorated tree. Dad’s one-handed attempt at breaking his fall merely drove shards of glass ornament deep into his right palm.

“Yarrrrgh!”, yelled Dad, thrashing helplessly amidst a confusion of still-flashing fairy lights and electric-blue tinsel. Flames from candles knocked off the mantlepiece quickly set up a lively conflagration amidst the central-heating parched needles of the now horizontal Norway Spruce. Blearily perceiving his imminent imperilment by immolation, Dad struggled all the harder to free himself.

Tearing at the entangling wires and cables, Dad somehow connected with a live current and toasted himself in several ways simultaneously. Intently focused on their X-Box (Call of Duty Black Ops, if you must know) on the other side of the room, Boys 1 and 2 noticed none of this until, alas, it was considerably too late. Such is the fate awaiting many Britons as the dreaded 25 December approaches.

A shocking press release from Thirst4lawyers revealed this week that “Almost 20 percent of Brits will injure themselves cooking Christmas dinner” by which Bankstone News assumes they mean Christmas lunch. But 20%. That’s a lot. That’s one in five, isn’t it? Scary. The other four top five yuletide mishaps are tree ornament lacerations, falls from ladders, tripping over cables and (or?) fairly lights and decorations and burns from candles.

“The week’s [sic] leading up to Christmas can be quite fraught,” says Chris Rodgrasp of Thirst4lawyers, “however it’s important that we don’t get too carried away. Cooking the Christmas dinner is one of the biggest jobs we undertake” and “always ensure that fairy lights come with the required safety mark and keep out of reach of children.

London is the most dangerous place for Christmas accidents, Thirst4Layers’ survey found, and Norwich is the safest. The recent national census found that Norwich is also the most godless city in the country. Can this be coincidence? Answers up the chimney on a burning sheet of Garfield-embellished junior personal stationary, please.

December 13, 2012

Into a world where convention rules… comes a new challenger that dares to be different from the herd… The Pro-o-o-be!

Yes, a report in this week’s Insurance Times reveals that the Competition Commission has confirmed it is to plunge its dreaded probe deep into the daylight-shunning nether regions of the motor insurance market and the supposed dodgy dealings that go on there.

The CC probe will be thrusting with particular vigour into the dark world of trumped up repair charges and over-mighty aggregators.

In a voice, perhaps, like that of John Hurt’s classic voiceover in the official wrongest car ad ever made – assuming it was JH and not just some husky-throated posh pervy uncle who happened to sound like him – the commissioners are going to be asking tough questions like:

– “if some repair firms’ relationships with insurers hike costs for rival insurers”

– “if add-on products are sold on the back of private motor insurance” (surely not!)

– “the relationship between insurers and parts/paint providers”

– “whether [that’s better!] consumers are ripped off by firms offering services after a motor accident”

– “whether the largest aggregators have market power and how this affects consumers” (as above) and

– “how automatic renewals and cancelations affect no claims bonuses”

Bankstone News for one is nothing short of agog to discover what comes to light when the CC probe is finally withdrawn and we can all find out what really goes on down there. Sadly, we will have to wait til September even for some provisional findings.

Blameless as its participants doubtless are, one can already sense the industry tensing, not to say wincing a little as the probe bears down upon them. Some might even feel like telling the Probe that, as Chris Rear repeatedly sang in that classic Ford Probe promo (and indeed as Fleetwood Mac sang previously), “You can go your own way.”

December 12, 2012

Having a bunch of your stuff nicked out of your car can be a drag at any time of year, warns M&S Bank, but at Christmas it’s really a major bummer. In fact, new research from M&S shows conclusively that it can “even potentially ruin your Christmas.”

M&S has identified “hustle and bustle” as a major problem at this time of year – one that can lead shoppers to deposit an initial haul of newly purchased gift-type materialistic excess in their car boots before trundling off in search of more. The average yuletide shopper’s boot, M&S exclusively reveal, contains around £263 worth of stuff. So if you are thinking about breaking into someone else’s car, there really couldn’t be a better time to do it!

What shoppers don’t realise is that their insurance may not cover a bootful of booty (obviously we’re not talking about Beyoncé type booty here, although it probably won’t cover that either). If you are even thinking about taking your car out shopping, M&S warn, you must call your insurer immediately to check how they will view any claim you think you might want to make.

What you really need is M&S car insurance, which offers £200 cover for personal stuff, PLUS an extra £300 for things you have bought in M&S stores. This is why you should buy M&S car insurance and also do all of your Christmas shopping in M&S stores.

If you are worried about suffering a car boot booty snatch (in a non-rude sense, clearly), M&S offers the following advice on protecting yourself:

1. Make sure you lock you car – even if you are really busy – because “walking away without taking two seconds to double check could have severe consequences”

2. Don’t park in a really dark place where thieves are likely to be prowling furtively

3. Hide everything in your car – including your sat nav and radio – they’ll never guess it’s all stashed in the boot and the glove box!

4. Keep your receipts – insurers will give you short shrift if they’ve been nicked along with the goods

5. Do that thing we mentioned earlier about phoning and asking ‘just supposing I were to be claiming for a bunch of stuff nicked out of my boot…’

6. Make sure you put everything on a credit card – they may pay out if your insurer doesn’t

7. Get an M&S credit card

8. Choose M&S car insurance

9. Shop at M&S

That’s it! Follow these simple rules and your Christmas won’t be ruined by uninsured theftage from your vehicle. And remember: M&S car insurance and shop at M&S!

Something like this (click on image above) could still ruin your Christmas though

December 7, 2012

Yes, another competition! But you’ll like this one. Bankstone News is offering you a genuine opportunity to win a genuine Luxury Christmas Hamper from a top gentleperson’s grocery outlet – and all you have to do is nab us a couple of new subscribers.

Here’s how it works: tell your friends, associates, family – whoever really, we’re not fussy – to go to our newsletter sign-up page – and sign up. Here’s the complicated bit: when they do they will see three fields to fill in. The first says Email Address. In this box they enter their email address. So far so really not very hard. But here’s the twist… there are two further fields to complete. In the first of these, labelled First Name, they write their own first and last names or basically anything else they feel like – because the important bit – as far as you are concerned at least – is the second box labelled “Last Name”. In this, they write YOUR NAME. That’s how we know you recommended them – and hence how we know it’s you who’s recommended the most new subscribers and thusly deserves to win a prize.

We actually have – not one – but three prizes! The person who gets the most people to sign up wins the first prize, the person who recommends the second most new subscribers gets the second prize, and – you can’t probably guess the rest.

First prize:   Luxury Christmas Humper worth ££.00s

Second prize:   Six-bottle case of Champagne-like booze

Third prize:   Boring old Appleberry football scarf in the colours of your team of choice

Closing date: December 18.

So what are you waiting for? Simply cut and paste the link and instructions below, mail them to everyone you know, and sit back and wait for your prize to accrue.

For reasons I am not presently at liberty to divulge, I need you to sign up to some stupid insurance industry newsletter (you can’t always unsubscribe again in the unlikely event that you are not completely satisfied).

Here’s what you must do…

Go to:

Then complete the sign-up form as follows:

Field 1:   fill in your email address
Field 2:   fill in your name (optional)
Field 3:   fill in my name (first and last names) (not optional: important)

Then Click Subscribe

That’s it.

Thank you in advance for your kind assistance in this important matter.

December 7, 2012

An unusual headline caught Bankstone News’ eye in this week’s Insurance Times. Single squirrel causes £5,500 in damage, it said.

Not having considered the long-term relationship-forming propensities of bushy tailed arborial rodents for quite some time – not since poring over the anthropomorphically illustrated pages of Beatrix Potter’s Tale of Squirrel Nutcase as a child, in all likelihood – Bankstone News began to wonder idly whether the duties and responsibilities of a stable partnership might have deflected this particular woodland critter from the path of wickedness.

The remainder of the article, sadly, shed no further light on this intriguing sociozoological question. Instead it revealed, not a little disturbingly, that small sylvan mammals have become enraged and are now hell bent on damaging the motor vehicles they perhaps hold responsible for invading and befouling their native habitat. Small “fury animals”, the paper reported, are causing an increasing number of what it called “unusual” insurance claims.

The unattached squirrel referred to in the headline had apparently launched itself into the cabin of a convertible and set about its female occupant, leaving her so badly shocked that she lost control, struck a tree and virtually totaled her motor. Whether her attacker leapt up into the branches of the struck tree, pausing only to wave his small clenched fist in defiant celebration of a successful strike, before melting back into its woodland hinterland, was not recorded.

Nor does it stop with the furious rodents. According to comments made by a representative of Alcoholics Anonymous in the Daily Telegraph, from whom Insurance Times nicked this story before we nicked it from them. AA recorded 112 “animal strikes” in October and November alone. Badgers, deer, foxes and even renegade dogs – who have seemingly turned on their adoptive human families – have all been implicated in similar attacks on innocent and unprotected vehicles and their occupants.

The AA spokesperson told the Torygraph that deer are a particular threat at this time of year because it is the “mating season”. Those who fail to find a partner can presumably turn nasty and vent their frustration on motorists unfortunate enough to find themselves in the wrong neck of the woods. Their chief weapons are apparently stealth and surprise. “Deer tend to move at dusk or very early in the morning,” the spokesperson warned. With daylight hours in scarce supply as we approach the Winter Solstice, drivers may not know what’s hit them until it’s too late.

In matters like this, it helps to know your enemy. Different animals resist mankind’s vehicular encroachment on their domain in characteristically different ways. Squirrels – even married ones – are notoriously ill-tempered and, as the story above clearly illustrates, have a unique ability to launch both ground-based and airborne assaults. Deer, hedgehogs and badgers – the latter doubtless radicalised by the threat of cullage in the name of Bovine TB – are particularly militant and have frequently shown themselves capable of launching suicide strikes. Pheasants and partridges on the other hand take a more Gandhiesque approach, restricting themselves to non-violent resistance which usually takes the form of simply dawdling about in front of slower-moving vehicles like that Chinese bloke with the tank.

The best advice for motorists worried about animal attack is simply to avoid traveling unless your journey is absolutely necessary – or get yourself a plated Landy or Hummer and keep the windows tightly shut when venturing into rural areas.

December 6, 2012

In what Bankstone News can only regard as a healthy and welcome development, Insurance Times has taken to reprinting entire articles from our local current affairs journal The Northern Echo. One such article recounted the sad tale of how Sayed Jenaabaan, 46, of Darlington inadvertently cheated himself out of £10,000 by over-egging a claim for domestic burglary.

In keeping with the insurance media’s ongoing campaign to educate would-be fraudsters on pitfalls to avoid when fleecing one’s insurers, Bankstone News cannot stress enough the importance of coming up with a definitive claim story and sticking to it. According to a mitigating submission made at his recent fraud trial, Mr Jenaabaan lost out on compensation for £10k’s worth of Persian rugs stolen from his property – because he broke the “one clean hit” rule by phoning the police several times to add fresh items to his claim.

Getting back in touch with police or your insurers to extend your compensation wishlist is the claims fraud equivalent of waving a red rag at a bull. Insurance Age recently reported a case with eerie echoes of Mr Jenaabaan’s rug-theft debacle – in which a certain Mrs McGrattan of Newtownards, Northern Ireland repeatedly chased her insurer for monies she claimed she needed to pay for kenneling her cats and dogs whilst her rented house got underpinned. By making a royal pain of herself, she provoked her insurers into taking a closer interest. It soon emerged that the supposedly off-site cats and dogs had been at home all along, putting Mrs M in the path of a lawsuit for £140,000 including costs – ten times the value of her kenneling claim.*

Mr Jenaabaan, meanwhile, belatedly decided to add items such as a camcorder and a games console to his claim (items subsequently discovered in a suitcase at his home). This amateurish overclaim prompted his insurers, the Northern Echo and Insurance Times report, to refuse payment for his expensive floor-coverings and a variety of “irreplaceable sentimental items” brought to the UK by Mr J from what both papers refer to simply as “his homeland”.

Before Jenaabann was given a two years conditional discharge by Jugde Peter Armstrong at Teeside Crown Court, Mr Paul Cleasby (mitigating) had argued that his client had “learned a salutary lesson” and had already suffered enough as a consequence of his foolish actions. Mrs McG, will also have learned an expensive lesson – one whose consequences could yet see her and her stay-at-home pets out on the street by Christmas.

* See December’s Insurance Age for Bankstone News’ in depth analysis of this unedifying episode.

December 5, 2012

Back in 2003 longtime child abuse campaigner Esther Rantzen made a solemn promise to the people of Britain. “I promise,” she said, that “if you call Accident Advice Helpline, you will receive free and impartial advice, that no money is required to make a claim & No Win-No Fee means exactly that.”

Rantzen – who has prominent teeth, a woefully unconvincing smile, and invented TV’s now ubiquitous bad-news-announcing regretful grimace, finished eighth in Series 2 of Strictly, after a “disastrous” tango, and was fifth to leave camp in 2008’s IACGMOOH – will now be making her promises under new ownership.

Yes, it can be true! For Quindell, a leading provider of sector leading expertise in software, consulting and technology enabled outsourcing to the insurance, telecommunications and related sectors plans to buy Accident Advice Helpline (AAH) some time after 1 April next year.

In the meantime Quindull have entered into a partnership agreement which, as their racily readable press release explains “will result in Quindell being the exclusive provider of all legal services to AAH, with Quindell, in turn benefiting from certain revenue and profits of AAH and working with AAH’s existing legal panel members to provide legal services where capacity requires.”

“Take my advice,” Esther Rantzen commented on the news, “you can trust Accident Advice Helpline to look after you. I have complete faith in Accident Advice Helpline as a thoroughly honest and caring company, working on the side of the consumer.”

“We are extremely excited to be working alongside the team at Accident Advice Helpline, enthused Quindell chairman John Terry. “Don’t sit back”, added “Richard” who claimed himself £3,500 with the help of AAH, “go for it – it works.”

November 29, 2012

Insurance Times reported this week that all the rain we’ve been having could result in the used car market being flooded with swamp damaged cars.

The original source of this shocking claim turns out to have been a press release from Alcoholics Anonymous, whose insurance director Douglas Simons claims formerly inundated cars are likely to have problems with things like worn brakes, rusty bearings, and malfunctioning paralytic converters. “Airbags might go off unexpectedly,” Doug warns gravely.

The sudden and torrential downpours experienced by many motorists and householders over recent days, have literally deluged many parts of the UK with prolonged and often extreme wetness, leaving a swathe of insidious and persistent dampness in their wake.

AA claims to have ‘dealt with’ over 80 cars ‘ruined’ by wetness in a single week, equating to a daily toll of over 10 vehicles. And this could be just the tip of the flood waters, with a suspected 2,720 more cars ‘ruined’ but not ‘dealt with’ by AA. The fear now is that some of these water-ruined cars could fall into the hands of unscrupulous dealers who will simply wring them out, stick them under a hand-dryer for a couple of hours, and then flog them on to unsuspecting punters.

Meanwhile anyone buying a second hand car from a private seller in the current climate should check carefully for signs that the vehicle may previously have been suffused in a cocktail of river water and sewage. Tell-tale signs include murky puddles in the spare tyre well, soggy seats, cockpit condensation, mayonnaise inside the oil filter cap, dead fish in the glove compartment, and a generally putrid stench like the week-old cadaver of a dog fed exclusively on cod liver oil.

Any of these could indicate that the vehicle has previously been in contact with water and is hence a lethally fatal deathtrap of the kind to be avoided at all costs – even by those equipped with unusually lengthy bargepoles.

One careful owner

November 29, 2012

Lloyd’s of London, or just plain Lloyd’s, or sometimes Lloyd’s of London again these days, is quite simply the biggest single insurance thing in the world. Even Bankstone News knows that. Eager to find out more, we arranged to be given a guided tour, and this, Dear Reader, is what we learned.

The current Lloyd’s building is actually not the original. That was a humble sports club set up on Lampard Street in 1688 by David Lloyd, where City merchants met to pump iron, sip coffee and chat about whose ship had sunk that day. Since then, Lloyd’s has insured literally hundreds of things, including Sputnik and Michael Portillo’s legs, and is internationally recognised as very old indeed.

Today’s Lloyd’s building was created by famous architect Dick Rodgers out of bits left over from the Pompadour Centre in Paris on which he worked with Italian architect Renzo Stimpio back in the 1970s. Like the glisteningly eviscerated torso of a person at Stage 2 in the quaintly historical procedure known as hanging, drawing and quartering, the building famously wears the majority of its guts on the outside.

Disappointingly, Bankstone News did not get to waft in past the Beefeater through the VIP entrance, where we were hoping to try out that thing Top Cat used to do with the coin on a string. Instead we were ushered unceremoniously into the gloom of the building’s stately modernist undercroft.

Emerging on an escalator from the building’s residual interior bowels into the multi-tiered vastness of the central turbine hall, Bankstone News was literally overwhelmed and had to sit down for a bit and eat the remaining three-quarters of a cheese and ham sandwich purchased the previous day, washed down with some heavily vodka-infused Bovril from our trusty tartan thermos.

Eventually our guide insisted we continue the tour without delay and began pointing out fascinating features such as the Looting Bell which chimes whenever something really bad happens and the many desks (or boxes) where the famous Lloyd’s undertakers work.

There’s actually loads of escalators in the turbine hall. You can ride up and down on them for hours without getting in the least bit bored – or at least you could if some officious functionary didn’t keep trying to stop you and hustle you on to see yet more undertakers and glass fronted offices. And, frankly, once you’ve seen one of them…

But, just as Bankstone News was really starting to lose interest, we were introduced to the glass-sided lifts on the outside of the building – where else would they be! It was in one of these yo-yo-ing glazed display cases that one former Lloyd’s bigwig allegedly ‘wooed’ an attractive young journalist to the consternation of passersby on Leadenhorn Street below. – unless Bankstone News is getting two entirely separate stories muddled up.

This very public aerial encounter would have been back in the heady last days of the XXL Spiral. These were literally crazy times, when people were buying and selling insurance and “rear-insurance” (where insurers insure themselves, apparently) like it was going out of style. As well as insuring things that might go wrong in future, undertakers had branched out into insuring and rear-insuring things that had already gone wrong!

London market brokers were so busy making money, having lunch and laughing at the stupid undertakers who thought they were so clever, that they even started sending office boys, IT people and janitors out to collect signatures from undertakers.

This was known as ‘plaice-ing’ a risk, and in those days (not like now, of course) any idiot could ‘slip’ any old rubbish in an undertaker’s ‘box’ and automatically secure a hastily scribbled pre-prandial signature that committed hapless hordes of unsuspecting Surrey golf club members (jokingly referred to as ‘names’) to a bottomless pit of penury.

How does Bankstone News, know all this? We heard it from a red-nosed man in a pub across the road where we went immediately after having our tour somewhat rudely and abruptly curtailed after – completely accidentally – squirting Kia-Ora over a rather clumsy oil portrait of a big fat bloke in a chalk-stripe double breasted suit and “allegedly” damaging the painting in a well-meaning attempt to wipe it clean with the elbow of our stylishly capacious old rain coat.

Won’t be going back there again!

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