Marty Butch is dead. Long live Some Other Bloke!

September 29, 2014

When are you going to replace that Marty Butch fellow who used to do your road test reports?

That’s one of the questions that people frequently ask Bankstone News.

Well, the short answer is… soon.

Mr Butch’s newly anointed successor, Bankstone News can now exclusively reveal, is a gentleman by the name of Davy Sim.

No relation to that clean-living, rapidly procreating American family who keep destroying themselves, their homes, and their families in freak domestic conflagrations, Mr Sim comes to us highly recommended as someone who knows motors inside out (surely the right way to know them – although, try telling that to some young journalists these days – see separate story) and is a dab hand with anything that needs dabbing, basically.

Mr Sim’s first contribution, expected to be a road test on a strangely coloured Audi A5 Cabriolet, will be published as soon as he can be bothered to submit it. So that’s something to look forward to, we feel sure you will agree!

In the meantime, curious rumours have reached our ears suggesting that the late lamented Mr Butch may not be quite as late as was originally supposed. There have been several, as yet unconfirmed, sightings of someone bearing a close resemblance to the Butchster wandering confusedly around a variety of remote roadside locations across the Yorkshire area in an RAC patrolman’s outfit.

All very strange. But then if you link these (surely inauspicious) sightings with the recent news that the RAC has abandoned its plans for an IPO and decided instead to sell itself to Singapore (a country in Asia, where everything that is not compulsory is illegal), it all begins to make a certain kind of sense. Exactly which kind of sense we’re not quite sure yet. But if you know, we’d be delighted to hear from you via the usual channels.

In the meantime, let’s look back at some of the marvellous work Marty did whilst still a correspondent for Bankstone News.

Who could forget, for example, his review of Dickon Tysoe’s beloved Fiat Panda, or the time he tried out Rachel Stow’s Audi or his brush with a Bristol big cat in the form of  David Haynes’ Jag?

No we can’t remember any of those either, but it’s all there in the archives, as plain as the nose on your face. Well, maybe a little less plain than that. But you get the general idea. Probably.

Here now, for your exclusive delectation, without further ado, we reproduce Mr Butch’s final column:

If there’s one person who’s guaranteed to get all over-excited about a small economical car, it’s that flippin’ Dickon Tysore.

First he had me in to road test that ridiculous Panda thing of his. Nearly did for me that one! Now he’s positively imploring me to take out this new Volkswagen Up he’s got.

“It’s ‘blue motion’ he tells me proudly.” Last time I had a blue motion was after I necked an entire bottle of Curacao at Christmas.

“The model I’m really after,” he tells me, positively drooling at the thought of it, “is their new electric one – but that’s not out til next year.”

“It’s called…” he chortles merrily, “and as a fellow Yorkshireman, I think you’ll appreciate this…”

Tysore’s not from Yorkshire, mind, he’s from Nottingham or somewhere down south, but doesn’t want anyone to know that.

“…it’s called an e-Up!”

How we laugh! Or, rather, how he laughs, and laughs… and then laughs some more. He actually gets up, walks over to that coffee machine he has in his stripy boudoir of a boardroom, makes himself his third or fourth cup of some gut-churning brew, and sits back down again, chuckling all the while.

“It’s the little white one next to the Jonesmobile,” he finally gets out – sliding the keys in my general direction across the desk. “You can keep it over the weekend, but I want it back on Monday – in one piece – along with your review.”

I grunt assent. I’m mostly a man of action, as opposed to words, me.

“And try and take in some nice scenery while you’re out with it”, he tells me. “See if you can get round some of the places we’d be likely to visit on the Medieval Monkeys run.” I shudder at the mention of those bloody monkeys. Three fookin’ year I’ve trailed up hill and down dale after that miserable bunch. I’m not doing that again!

Out in the yard, Tysore’s Up is easy enough to find. That name reminds me of a film I saw once. I fire her ‘up’ and get her out of the car park with barely a scratch, before burning off home for tea.

She’s roomy enough inside – for a TOY CAR – but her 3 cylinder engine makes a heck of a racket. There’s wind-up windows in front – what a joke!

Over a couple of pints down the Headless Ferret later on I have a bit of a brain wave. Tysoe says he wants an e-Up. I’m going to make his dreams come true!

So first thing the next day (before I’ve even had me dinner) I’m down in the shed, dragging out this sodding great battery I nicked out of this total loss artic the other week, and using a winch and pulley rig to swing it into the boot of Tysore’s sorry-arsed motor.

I have to put the seats down, mind, coz there’s hardly room to swing a gnat in there. Next I drag out some wiring from that washing machine that blew up last year, and in no time flat I’m pretty sure I’ve bodged up Britain’s very first e-Up. Wait til Tysoe sees this!

I nip back inside for a good supply of fags and a couple of four-packs of John Smith, before nipping back in again to scoop up some gentleman’s reading material and a bottle of Teachers, just for good measure.

I’m ready to take this baby out on her maiden voyage. I’m turning the key, and… that’s funny… what’s that fizzing sound? Oh f

marty butch

September 29, 2014

As Bankstone News’ major exposé of application fraud last week (Punt-taking chancers) made clear, the practice of lying to insurance providers has reached epidemic proportions within UK peopledom. The root cause of this regrettable phenomemon, as with most of the major problems confronting this country today, seems likely to be that too many people are doing insurance-type things without involving brokers.

Aaron Copland, head of dating strategies at insurance soft-wear provider SSP (or “Sssssp!” as what it is known as), reckons he has put his finger on one of the main reasons everyone is lying their pants off to insurers. The thing, to be more specific, on which the Copland finger has come to rest, in this particular instance, is so-called comparison sites.

That’s right: just as social media makes it easier to insult, abuse and distress people you’ve never met, just as ‘online casinos’ make it easier for evening-wear dodgers to ruin themselves clad only in their unwashed undergarb, online comparison sites allow people to misrepresent themselves to prospective insurers without any of the compunction they might experience when dealing with a broker.

Like radiant little angels perching as Noel “Arthur J” Gallagher might put it ‘on the shoulder of clients’, insurance brokers have a key role to play in keeping people in touch with their better instincts, Copland argues. In the good old days, he told Posts Magazine in a recent interview, “brokers protected insurers from application fraud by making the consumer aware of what they were doing and ensuring they provided the right information.”

Mindfulness is the crucial point here. If would-be insurance purchasers aren’t even aware of what they are doing, how can we seriously expect them to know the difference between truth and lies, right and wrong, a clean driving licence and a string of recent convictions culminating in a three year ban?

The imperative is clear for any government that is truly serious about rolling back the insidious tide of immorality currently spreading throughout this once-great nation: an immediate and outright ban on meerkats, talking robots, string-haired ladies and the like, and an absolute requirement that brokers be involved in all transactions of an insurance-related nature.


September 29, 2014

Only last week we learned that, in a move intended to distance the firm from infidel-decapitation-services provider ISIS/ISL/IS, or whatever they are called this week, (and presumably to avoid having its bank accounts frozen in a case of mistaken identity) private equity firm Isis Equity Partners is to rebrand itself as We Haven’t Actually Thought of a New Name Yet.

Now rumours are reaching the Bankstone News office that US-based Innovative Staff Solutions Inc (parent of ISS Insurance Group, a name familiar to many UK insurance firms as a provider of ‘services’) is to rebrand as American Staff Solutions.

A host of other names familiar to insurance people in the UK now also look set to change, including Peterborough’s ISL Insurance Brokers, HGV specialists Isis Insurance Services, City-based Independent Services Group (ISG) and Crawley’s Islamic State Insurance Ltd. Software firm Misys, fortunately, was rebranded a couple of years back.

The International Insurance Society is now thought to be considering a name change. Rumours that Egyptian love goddess Isis is also set undergo a posthumous rebrand had yet to be confirmed at the time of going to press, while talk of a name change for the stretch of the Thames adjacent to various Oxford Colleges has been roundly pooh-poohed by various sang-froid rowing chaps in caps and blazers.

Vowels, of course, play only a slight and highly mutable role in the semitic languages, of which Arabic is one, leaving any insurance brand with a bit of a ‘hiss’ to it in a highly vulnerable position.

Further mutations in the name of the aforementioned Syria-and-Iraq based headhunting group ISIS/ISL/IS could yet spell trouble for a host of other firms operating in the insurance services sector.

Bankstone News prediction: Watch this space.


September 29, 2014

One of the very first things they teach at journalism school, right after shorthand, how to hack a mobile, and looking good in a trench coat and trilby, is how to write a story inside out.

Basically, this involves presenting facts, figures, intimate pap shots or whatever as if they indicated precisely the opposite of what they actually indicate. The object of the game is simply to see how long you can keep it up for before you get bored, somebody notices and objects, and/or it’s pub time.

A somewhat half-hearted attempt at an ‘inside out story’ (also sometimes know as a ‘back to front’ story, a ‘wrong way round’ story, or, very occasionally, a ‘reverse missionary’) appeared in the latest edition of Issuance Times under the provocative heading “UK insurers’ claims bill jumped by £1.5 billion in 2013.”

Boredom appears to have set in early on this one, however, as the paper let slip almost immediately that the visceral impact experienced by the insurance community from this unprecedented deluge of claims was considerably diminished by a corresponding £3.4 billion increase in gross written premiums. This had the happy effect, not only of rescuing insurers from the maw of a claims avalanche, but also of improving the industry’s overall claims ratio.

The figures thus toyed with emanated from revered industry body the Association of Brutish Insurers (AIB), who confirmed everybody’s very worst fears as to the intolerable extent of motor insurance fraud, with the revelation that motor claims (most of them probably more or less dodgy) cost insurers £17.1m a day during 2013, compared with £11.1m spent daily on property claims, and £6.8m a day on liability claims.


September 22, 2014

Bankstone News was literally weeping hot wet tears of joy and relief last week as news came through that Scotchland has decided, well and truly, for this generation and all others, with no possible room or excuse for reconsideration, ever, to remain within the warm embracing bosomy thing that is the United Kingdom of England, Scotchland and those other places.

If that wicked scheming Al Salmon had got his nasty shouty self-aggrandising way and lured away a nation that has proudly fought, died, colonially administered, and come up with influential economic theories for the UK proper all these years, with his cynical promises of social justice, political maturity and oil money, it would quite literally have broken our hearts (sniff), made life a bit complicated (sigh), and, quite frankly, (grrr) left us considerably worse off.

Nor is Bankstone News alone in applauding the correct decision made by all right-minded Scotch people last week. George Stub of Perth-based GAS Group told leading monthly news magazine Insurance Ape that he was glad to see the back of all this needless uncertainty and looking forward to getting back to making money. “We can now get down to business” he chuckled merrily (probably).

Edward The Bruce of Edinburg-based Bruce Stevieson echoed these sentiments, declaring that after the “uncertainty we have been living with over the past few years,” it’s good to be able to get back to “business as usual”. But he warned about rewarding Scotlanders for their treacherous temerity: “If there’s too much power perceived to be given to Scotland there will be a backlash. There will be a reaction in the rest of the UK.”

Meanwhile Mark Yeti of Tup Mark Adjusters in Glasgow added to the chorus of approval for the Scotch climbdown, saying “Now there is no uncertainty and it will strengthen the UK economy” and “make Great Britain even greater”.

Down south in the nation’s capital, Steve Wipe of fashion chain BIBA introduced a new theme, observing that “Brokers like certainty, so now it continues to be business as usual.”

So, well done Scotchland! True Brits south of the border salute you man, woman and 16 and 17 year old.

Now get back to work and don’t ever give us a scare like that again.


September 22, 2014

When one of Solihull’s leading cultural institutions was looking for a new insurance “partner” the decision was always going to be about more than simply who could cough up the biggest wad.

When the National Motorcycle Museum, for they it was, began casting their eye over prospective insurance providers, certain candidates pretty much ruled themselves out.

Someone like Debits would hardly welcome the association with relics from bygone eras.

A firm like MCE would probably consider themselves far too thrusting for the dusty old world of curated vehicular artefacts.

And you’d hardly want Bennetts or somebody sexing the place up with loads of their semi-naked lycra hoochy-chooch girls (as Bankstone News believes they are called).

But if there’s one motorcycle insurance provider that truly belongs in a museum, it would have to be Footman James, who have duly been selected by the NMM.

Commenting on Footnote James’ selection to provide the NMM’s new membership scheme which aims to become the “most influential, innovative scheme in the vehicle heritage sector,” NMM director James Spewing praised the firm’s sure touch with old folks.

“I know the team at Footman James very well,” he said, “and they are people who truly understand the insurance needs of old bike enthusiasts.”

So that’s nice.


September 22, 2014

By the time you’ve read this story, in the unlikely event you bother, someone somewhere will have wilfully misrepresented their particulars to a motor insurer.

That’s right, Friends, worrying new figures concocted by the Association of Brish Insurers (ABI) reveal that, when it comes to motor insurance applications, truths are bent, facts are altered, and punts taken on a truly industrial scale.

Each year there are quite literally too many fraudulous insurance applications to count, 180,675 of them according to the ABI.

In case you’re a bit tragic at maths, that’s a staggering 3,475 per week, 496 of them a day, an equally staggering 21 every hour, or (again, with an exactly equivalent degree of staggeringness) one fraudulent application every three minutes (on average), considerably more at peak times, when fraudulent applications sometimes have to be ‘stacked’ in circular rotation over busy call centres.

If you think these figures suggest insurers are pretty good at spotting and turning away dishonest applications, forget that thought! The ABI calculates that the legions of fraudsome applications insurers merrily wave through each year are forcing them to “add around £50 to every household’s annual insurance bill.” Which certainly seems harsh on those who don’t own cars.

ABI claims fraud chief Ade Curr insists that “the way to get the best deal is to play it straight with the insurer”. But, with almost a fifth of a million people persisting in putting an unsustainably positive gloss on their application each year, this message clearly isn’t getting through.

There are two types of people who “undermine the underwriting process” with “consequences for honest customers” explains Ben Feltcher of the Fraud Insurance Bureau (FBI): “chancers who take a punt” and “those who deliberately provide false information at the stage of applying for an insurance policy.”

For an insight into the precise difference between the two, or to find out why there is no third category of ‘chancers who take a punt by wilfully providing false information at the stage of applying for an insurance policies’, you will have to ask someone a great deal cleverer than Bankstone News.

Sorry about that.


September 21, 2014

As renowned sixth century BC philosopher and sage Confucius (not to be confused with the short-lived similarly-named avatar of comparison site once sagely remarked (How else would he remark it?) “Only the fool declares his own intelligence.”

This was only one of many remarks attributed to the leading teacher of the Hundred Schools of Thought era, most of which he never said, some of which are inscrutable to the point of unintelligibility, a few of which may now and then seem apt enough to quote.

His thoughts on self-proclaimed intelligence inevitably spring to mind when contemplating the press materials of “vehicle-to-business technology” outfit In-Car Cleverness, whose knowingly jokey name but ill obscures a distinct whiff of hubris.

Be that as it may, ICC had some very exciting news to impart this week, with official confirmation at last that it has signed up its 100th rental operator since entering the market earlier this year and that it is making “very healthy in-roads into the sector”.

Bankstone News feels sure its readers will be quick to agree this is very exciting news indeed for the firm whose corporate video explains that it is not about telematics, and that it talks to cars, putting them at the epicentre of something or other, to unlock all their cleverness.

Very exciting indeed. So if you are a rental operator and you don’t want people doing stuff in your your vehicles that you don’t know about, why not consider talking to the folks at ICC and taking them one step closer to that exciting 200th customer press release?


Click to view video

September 15, 2014

Bankstone has been diversifying into all kinds of areas recently, but, no, the image below has nothing to do with Bankstone director Andrew “Dirty Car” Jones’ latest attempt to penetrate the wonderful world of waste management.

No, indeed, it is nothing less than the latest in a long line of our much loved “time’s running out, do you think we can get away with a picture competition?” type picture competitions.

All you have to do, Dear Reader, to qualify for a luxury three-day break in the Scandianvian Sauna complex at the bottom of Bankstone Director Dix Tyson’s back garden (plus an all-you-can eat a buffet selection of cold meats and pickled cucumber-based snacks) is to provide the name of the film, along with the applicable upper case Roman numeral, from which this memorable still was extracted.

Entries please by email to the editor.


September 14, 2014

The Competition and Meerkats Authority (CMA, formerly known, amongst other things, as the Competitor’s Companion) has a variety of sanctions at its disposal.

These include the power to ask tough questions, the power to make dawn raids, the power to impose what are darkly referred to as ‘interim measures’, and the power to impose civil fines.

Well equipped as it clearly is, powers and sanctions wise, the CMA may be in danger picking one fight it cannot win.

Credit hire organisation the Credit Hire Organisation (CHO) may not have much in the way of interrogations, raids, measures or fines in its arsenal. But what it lacks in those it more than makes up in another highly persuasive area.

Before it says anything it may regret in its recommendations on the private motor market, due for publication on 27 September, the CMA might do to well to bear in mind that the CHO is in possession of a large carnivorous animal, specifically: a bear.

Not only does it have a bear, but, as CHO Director General Marty Andrews made chillingly clear in a recently published statement, it is not afraid to use it.

“We’ve been very reasonable up ‘til now,” Andrews growled in his best impersonation of Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday. But “If we don’t get what we want,” he said, “the bear is going to be unleashed.”

The deal currently on the table, Andrews made clear, is the best the CMA is going to get. If they’ve got a problem with that, well, then things could get a bit… grizzly. If you know what we mean.

So if the CMA report comes back later this month recommending that, on due reflection, the existing Grand Theft Auto (GTA) protocol is absolutely fine and should be extended without further ado, Dear Reader, you may just have some inkling why.


Mr Andrews with his bear


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