Retreat yourself this summer!

May 30, 2014

As regular readers will be well aware, Bankstone News has an impressive track record for bringing its readers top discount offers from right across the world of business, retail and leisure pursuits.

Who could forget, for example, the time we offered subscribers an amazing 15% off the cost of a week’s stay (or longer!) at the exclusive Chalet Lachlan, Veysonnaz, or all those times we offered some other things whose precise nature we are sadly unable to recall at this exact moment in time? Who indeed!

Well, guess what, we’ve only gone and done it again!

By dint of some extraordinary bargaining persistence on the part of top Bankstone man Dickon Tissot, we have somehow succeeded in negotiating a full 10% discount on top West Country getaway destination Bluebell Cottage, located in the charming Dorset-Somerset borders hamlet of North Perrott – and also (as soon as they’ve been properly renovated and beautified) on either of the other properties that form part of the “A Country Retreat” leisure property empire.

The offer comes courtesy of Bankstone’s good friends Martin and Julie Sanderson, who welcome pets, have a lovely website featuring full further details of Bluebell Cottage, Bramble Cottage and Dairy Stables, and can clue you into what’s going on in Dorset and Somerset (e.g. Durdle Door, Glastonbury Tor and doubtless many other rhyming landmarks besides).

All you have to do to take advantage of this unrepeatable offer is call 01935 891 843 and say in a loud firm voice: “Bankstone News!”

With the coast just a dozen miles off, a wealth of natural beauty and top tourism destinations on your very doorstep, and cows grazing peacefully in the surrounding fields, frankly, you’d be mad not to act immediately to secure your discount summer getaway in your very own “Country Retreat”!

9961974

May 30, 2014

For years, tyrannical womenfolk have crudely ridiculed men for their supposed inability to multitask. For years, mild mannered male persons have meekly accepted this gratuitous calumny.

But now Bankstone News can at last exclusively reveal definitive proof that men are more than capable of multitasking, after 73-year-old PJ Rigby of Skipton Yorks was captured on film for a full 10 seconds reading a map (something, let’s not forget, no woman can do in either tasking or multitasking mode) whilst simultaneously conducting his silver Honda “Jazz” along the A59.

More impressively still, Rigby can clearly be seen executing a number of complicated flipping-through and folding manoeuvres, before launching into the bravura finale of holding his large-format paperback road atlas right up to his face and thus effectively driving blindfolded. Throughout the entire time, impressively, Rigby’s “Jazz” remains almost entirely in the same lane in which it starts.

Typically, however, in this health-and-safety-gone-mad world of ours, rather than applauding Rigby’s sex-vindicating feat of several-doing, the authorities argued, in the face of clear video evidence to the contrary, that the veteran “Jazzman” was not in full and proper control of his vehicle and have banned Rigby for a year and fined him £1,080, slapping on a gratuitous £108 victim surcharge, despite the fact – as the video clearly shows – that no one was killed, maimed, or otherwise harmed in the performance of this sensational act of senior citizen on-road derring do, and thus there was no victim!

For your very own chance to witness the mastery of this chart-consulting champion of male multitasking, simply click on the image below.

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Nice!

May 29, 2014

2013 was a boom year for the UK’s insurance fraud detection industry. Latest figures from the Association of Brutish Insurers reveal a bumper crop of fraudulent claims worth £1.3 billion: an 18% improvement on the corresponding figure for 2012.

This record harvest of fraudulent claims is clearly great news for the insurance industry and shows just how effective the industry’s the War on Fraud (WoF) is proving in curbing insurance fraud.

Douglas Simons of Alcoholics Anonymous stressed that these figures show “the growing success of the insurance industry” in the WoF, not “more fraud taking place.

“This should send a strong signal to anyone thinking of trying it on,” he said, adding menacingly that “Insurers don’t like dishonest customers.”

Motor insurance fraud made up an impressive £881m of the total £1.3bn fraud identified, with just under 60,000 dishonest claims spotted during the year.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau (FBI) is helping “turn the screw on cheats”, according to the ABI, helping police to investigate over 100 motor fraud rings.

Meanwhile the work of specialist police unit the Fraud Enforcement Department (the FEDs) has led to 470 arrests and 85 prosecutions since it was set up in 2011.

At the current rate of cracking down, experts predict, insurance fraud will have become completely impossible by around September 2021, with the figure for dishonest claims falling to zero the following year.

In the meantime, stand by for further impressive figures from the ABI next year.

positive business chart or stock quotation on white

May 28, 2014

Bankstone’s good friends at BLD have been on the trail of acquisitions again. Not content with ‘snapping up’ the UK’s leading supplier of motorcycle restriction and lowering kits FI International just the other day, they’ve also ‘swooped for’ leading online bike kit and accessories outlet Topgear Superstore, which they have prudently rebranded to avoid unfortunate associations with Jeremy “Tigger” Clarkson.

The new name for Topgear Superstore is the Ministry of Bikes, not to be confused with Northampton-based Ministry of Bicycles (a.sometimes.k.a. Ministry of Bikes), clearly.

BLD, itself, curiously enough was originally known by a slightly different, somewhat longer, name: Barely Legal Decals. Although, these days, everyone pretends they can’t remember what, if anything, BLD originally stood for – or comes up with some patently absurd suggestion (e.g. Biker Ladies of Death, Bournemouth Legion of Druids etc etc) designed to draw a veil over the firm’s early days as purveyors of bespoke saucy motorcycle adornments.

To celebrate the launch of the newly rebranded Ministry of Bikes (which confusingly has nothing to do with either the government or the church), BLD are offering Bankstone News readers, their close personal friends, and anyone who knows them an exclusive discount of just 10% on all goods for sale on the website of MOB (no connection with organised crime). All you need to do to access this unique 10%-off deal, apparently, is enter the code VIP10MOB when you order.

Alternatively, you could always try entering the code VIP50MOB – or better yet VIP100MOB – and see if that allows you to purchase at half price or entirely FOC.

Please note: this may not work, and if it does, don’t tell BLD/MOB we suggested it!

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May 23, 2014

Cops say the funniest things. No, that’s not the title of a hilarious new cheap-to-make TV show, it’s a simple – if somewhat exaggerated – FACT. “One chief constable, for example, once claimed over the nation’s primetime airwaves that “In an ideal world there would be more policemen,“ although, paradoxically, there would presumably be rather less for them to do in it.

Another senior officer argued forcefully, in response to the raising of privacy concerns over plans for random snooping through upper storey windows in built up areas using remote control spy cam minicopters, that the only people who could possibly object were individuals “with something to hide” and/or who were “up to no good” and had therefore clearly forfeited the right to privacy enjoyed by ordinary decent citizens.

This story, however, is not about policemen and the hilarious things they say. But, with what more jaundiced readers might construe as depressing inevitability, about insurance and motor vehicles and things like that. It’s also a bit about privacy.

Reporting that anyone failing to submit to black-box surveillance of their every move will be driven off the road within the next 10 years, popular car repair journal Bodyshock Magazine this week reported Tom Ellipse of Go Compario suggesting that ‘In 10 years’ time having a telematics device installed will be an opt-out situation, rather than an opt-in.”

Why on earth would anyone want to opt out? Perhaps, suggests Mr Ellipse “because they are bad drivers.” But, even if they try to pretend it’s about something else, like being “unhappy with the privacy element,” they will still “have to accept a higher premium to insure their car.”

Meanwhile, Offal Eyore of management consultancy Bostic Consulting Group, reported that “we are aware of insurers considering whether they should only take on new customers with telematics,” adding, “we can see a situation where insurers will only be interested in certain types of customers, such as those who are willing to take a telematics policy.”

Could there soon be a gap in the market, then, for a niche insurer catering for a rump of suspect characters willing to pay sky high premiums for a no-questions asked approach?

book10

May 22, 2014

So now those miserable killjoys at the FCA are cracking down on live entertainment, fine dining and sport are they? Not content with requiring brokers to jump through a veritable Olympics Corporate Identity Manual of anti-bribery compliance hoops, they are now quite seriously suggesting – according to various compliance consultancy services salesmen – that brokers should think twice before accepting lavish corporate hospitality from insurers. In future, according to Tez Clark of Robin Hood Associates, brokers will need to be able to “justify” everything from golf days to nights out at girly bars.

Meanwhile media-shy compliance guru Branko Bjelzebub – an individual so well known in the world of insurance compliance that most people now refer to him simply as Mr Bjelzebub – says he thinks that high profile anti-bribery fines recently handed out to the likes of JLT Special Tea by the regulator don’t go far enough.

“Only by seeing the pain of other brokers will the rest of the industry learn,” he observes dispassionately, in no way motivated by the desire to scare brokers into employing his services. “I don’t think the penalties are severe enough,” he says, adding bitterly: “and don’t forget they get a 30% discount if they co-operate with the FCA. If you’re caught speeding, you don’t say to a policeman: ‘Here’s some cash, now let’s a do a deal’.”

“Here’s some cash, now let’s do a deal,” incidentally, is one of the key things not to say if you you don’t want to be accused of bribery and corruption. As, sadly, nowadays is “Here’s an invitation to the men’s final at Wimbledon, now let’s do a deal.”

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Where has everybody gone?

May 21, 2014

Britain’s drivers are a perverse and neurotic bunch according to road safeness charity Brake and insurance firm Direct Lie. All but 5% of us, according to the latest so-called survey of road user attitudes, are worried about tailgating (although 57% of it are doing it ourselves).

“That’s all very interesting, but what on earth is tailgating?”, you ask with studiously feigned innocence. Relax, you vile degenerate, we’re not talking about “back door action” or any such filth here.

Tailgating, in Bankstone News’ world at least, refers to the common practice of driving sufficiently close to the car in front of you – assuming, for the sake of the metaphor, that it’s a pick up truck or station wagon or suchlike – to pull down its tailgate (or tailboard) and – for example – help yourself to the lavish picnic packed in its trunk (or boot).

The Brake/Direct Lie survey reveals that 28 per cent of motorists admit to engaging in tailgating sessions at least monthly, with men more likely than women to unnerve other drivers by getting up close from behind. Often the cause is frustration at the slow progress of the vehicle in front (the “Toyota Avensis” as it is known colloquially).

In reality, of course, there are far safer ways of signalling an urgent desire to pass, for example: the repeated and insistent flashing of headlights and/or the honking of horns (ditto), either of which may be combined if necessary with the furious shaking of a fist, tyre iron or firearm out of a wound-down window. Whilst not strictly legal, sirens and magnetic roof-top spin-lamps also work well.

In common with the 95% of road users cited above, Rob Mild of Direct Lie is worried about the danger of people driving too fastly and nearly to other vehicles on the UK motorway network. “Driving too closely to the car in front of you is asking for trouble.” he warns, adding: “Drive too closely at speed and motorists risk not only their own life but other road users’ lives too.”

Who knew?

6a Tailgate picnic and bar via Angie Seder pinterest A Step In The Journey blogger source Better Homes and Gardens with effects

May 16, 2014

Staff at Bankstone’s attractive waterfront headquarters complex in downtown Brighouse were curious, earlier this week, to learn more about the contents of the dozen or so sealed cardboard boxes their glorious leader commanded them to load into the capacious rear end of his executive estate vehicle as he prepared to make the perilous transpennine journey to #BIBA2014.

“What’s in ‘em, Dickon?” one bold minion dared at last to ask. “Business cards,” replied Mr Tysoe with a knowing wink, “and plenty of ‘em!”

Exactly why he would require so many, no-one apparently thought or dared to ask. The reason, Bankstone News can now exclusively reveal, is that during the course of the two-day Manchester-based insurance broking conference, Mr T surreptitiously removed vast quantities of other people’s business cards from the various receptacles into they had been deposited in the hope of securing holidays, booze, gaming consoles, tablet computers and the like, removing them to a large laundry bag he carried with him for that purpose, and replacing them, from a second similarly capacious bag, with what he adjudged to be a similar quantity by weight of his own business cards.

Tysoe let slip the details of his plan only this very morning as he relaxed amidst the feature-wallpapered executive splendour of the Bankstone C-Suite, anticipating with somewhat unseemly relish the imminent and inevitable arrival by post of countless Magnae of budget fizz, X-Boxes, PlayStations, and weekends in Bruges.

Amazingly, he appears to have carried out his plan entirely unnoticed and without once being challenged by stand holders of security officials. Close inspection of CCTV footage, however, will almost certainly reveal numerous images of a furtive individual, cunningly camouflaged in a tight fitting grey suit, moving from stand to stand, staggering just a little from the weight of his bulging sacks, secretly seeking to subvert the process of prize-winner selection.

Armed with this knowledge, exhibitors who may initially have experienced some surprise at a certain lack of variety in the contact details provided by their competition entrants may now perhaps be in a position to form a clearer impression of the nature (and the enormity) of Dickon’s dastardly plan, the one fatal flaw in which, as more perspicacious readers may already have spotted, is his touchingly naive assumption that the names of conference prizewinners are actually drawn at random.

112545192luckydip

May 15, 2014

Ever wondered how insurance brokers’ fashion house BIBA gets government to obey its every wish and whim? The answer, in a nutshell, is neither blackmail nor sexual favours, whatever some irresponsible commentators may choose to put about, but a highly secret dark art known as lobbying.

In his opening address at this year’s BIBA show, top man Steven “Walter” White offered assembled insurance trendsetters (and followers) an exclusive insight into just exactly how BIBA’s high-powered hard-hitting team maintain their steely grip on the levers of power.

Compulsively chopping waist-level air with both hands, and looking every bit the pugnacious campaigning old cage fighter, ever on the verge of plucking off his specs for one last lunging attack, Steve/Walt bragged about how the BIBA boys are in and out of 10 Downing Street all the time “on all key manifesto issues” and how they get together regularly with the folks at the Treasury, Cabinet Office, MoJ, DWP and the Law Commission to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Anxious though they may be to do Mr White’s bidding, the guys at HMG are notoriously scatter-brained and easily confused, so earlier this year BIBA set out a specific wish-list of things it requires those in power to “deliver” on its behalf in the form of an easy-to-follow guide or “manifesto” (see previous editions of Bankstone News for details).

Government officials love having this simple instruction manual to follow, and each keep a copy constantly at hand. Walt boasted to BIBA delegates that Jonny Evans MP says BIBA is really good at lobbying and that they (and their delivery list) provide simply “the best example of transparent lobbying” (which presumably means that you know it’s there – even if you can’t actually see it).

Walt drew delegates’ attention to three key issues in the manifesto: “total signposting” (which involves brokers handing over clients they can’t help to their competitors), SME (where he addresses the poor benighted imbeciles who choose to run small businesses today with a helpful guide entitled “Small Business for Dummies”, and regulation, which he said (again) was unfair.

As for the future, Walt said BIBA would be having a bit of a think about standards and the raising thereof (an idea they nicked from the IBS Council). “Any debate around raising standards,” he declared heartily, “is a healthy debate.” What BIBA, wants he spelled out emphatically, is to “establish a practical, pragmatic pathway to raised standards”.

That’s one pathway Bankstone News will almost certainly not be following Mr White down.

yellowbrick

May 15, 2014

Passengers are a problem when it comes to road safety.

In addition to not eating, drinking, telephoning, shaving, lipsticking, object grabbing and cat juggling at the wheel, motorists should think twice before allowing other people to share their vehicles. That’s according to a press release issued this week by top Bavarian insurance house Alley Ants.

Partners are the worst

According to the latest research from the German peace-of-mind pedlars, having your significant other on board quadruples the likelihood of feeling stressed and hence crashing headlong into trees, walls, haystacks (if you’re lucky) or other road users.

If you must take your partner with you, make sure they sit up front beside you and keep their hands away from the vehicle controls. “The tales of back-seat drivers and in-car arguments we’re all so familiar with cause stress and destruction,” warns Alley Ants head honcho John Doe. So storytelling passengers are an absolute no-no.

Researchers found that drivers are at their happiest when alone in their cars. Having other people around, as French philosopher John Paul Sartrer once famously observed, raises blood pressure, tensions and Von Clayderman’s In-Car Stress Index, along with the chances of both headaches and RTAs.

If there’s one thing worse than partners, it’s children.

If there are two things worse than partners, they are children and animals.

According to detailed research findings revealed by the Munich-based firm: “The dog and the baby cause distraction: your own kids have top priority, even in the car. As a parent, you always react to certain behaviour or signals from your children. The resultant control glances contribute to distraction.”

Other hazards cited by the study include:“anticipation of the play-offs on TV”, “existential distress” (see JPS above), illness and prosecution. If you think you may be affected by any of these factors, probably best to phone in your excuses and stay at home that day rather than putting other road users at risk.

Worth bearing in mind if you are a work-shy and/or socially responsible fan of Derby or QPR (see item 1 on list above) or of Cardiff, Fulham or Norwich (see item 2).

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I said we should have turned left at Lashkar Gah

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