Road tests’ return

October 27, 2014

Ey up, mi Ducks! Davey Sim ‘ere.

Now, I always say I’m a fella that needs no introduction. But if I didn’t, and I weren’t, I’d say I’m a more or less a wit, raconteur, bon vivver and all-round man of many parts.

Not to mention: I’m officially second greatest Derbyshire man ever, right after Henry Royce of Rolls Royce fame (and what with ‘im being dead, top slot’s fairly up for grabs).

I’m also Bankstone News’ new motoring correspondent. As such, I’ll be your guide to today’s hottest rides, from Mazdas to Maseratis, Bongos to Bugatis.

For kickoffs, Dickson Tystone has axed me to try out this sporty little runabout ower in Buxton. Belongs to some lass named Rachel who’s some type of solicitor or whatever ower Macclesfield way (i.e. outside sainted pale of Derbyshire – but let’s not ‘old that against her). He’s scribbled ‘er address on serviette. Says she’ll be out somewhere local, but she’ll leave keys on ‘all table.

When I get to ahs though, front door’s locked. I can see keys reet enough through letter flap, but I’m firkin mi ‘ed ower how to get at em. But then I have this sort of brainwave. I chew up a wad of spidge and whack it on end of cane out of Rachel’s yard. That ‘ooks em quick enough.

Rachel’s ride is an orange Audi A5 Cabriolet 3.0 tdi Quattro.  Dickson says she had a black one before but something happened to it. Something involving a canal and some bloke called Butch or some such. Seems a bit cagey about that, so I don’t pry. Anyroads, keys work reet enough, and before you know it I’m in.

For a bit, I’m just sitting there, slorming about in plush shiny interior of this shonshy little machine, getting what I call “the feel” of ‘er. Then I clock spidge wad’s found its way off cane on to mi kecks and off them all ower Rachel’s upholstery. Good thing it’s leather, I think as I scrape some of it off and stick it somewhere up under steering column.

Time to burn some rubber. I gun ‘er up and ‘ed out on Bakewell road to find a little place where I can get a nice pot of tea, a taste of the world’s finest regional tart, and I reckon I’ll take in a fair old stretch of prime Peak District tarmac along the way. God’s own A road!

Engine on this little beast is no way wanky. Quite a little rocket. So much so, I end up taking a couple of stray sheep out along way, and give this pair of old folks quite a scare. You should have seen smockravelled looks on their clecks as they stumbled back up bonk. Me yelling “Gerraht way!” and chuckling like a lallabiddle all the while.

It’s all going nicely, with the curvy little Audi purring away like a brimmin’ she-lion as I wang ‘er round bends, reet up til somewhere past Taddington where A6 goes all bendy through some trees and I may have just gone a tad off road, and maybe clonked a tree or two, just lightly. There’s no denying, motor’s a write off, though. German rubbish.

I call Tystone on mobile to ax ‘ow long he’ll take to get ower and pick me up. All I get for reply’s this pitiful scraitin’ like a chuntering werrat. When ‘e finally gets some words out, e’s got a fair old munk on, and just keeps saying ower and ower: “Oh Dear, Oh Dear. Rachel’s not going to be happy.”

“Owd yer sweat,”I tell him: “Car’ll be reet enough for salvage.

The bits that aren’t orange at least!”


October 27, 2014

Not since Leeds traffic officers in the early 1970s began carrying snarling black and white tapirs in the backs of their vehicles, threatening to unleash these vicious South American predators on the ne’er-do-well law-flouting inhabitants of the city’s less appealing under-zones, has such a radical and controversial law-enforcement initiative been undertaken in Britain.

Bankstone News learned this week that Bradford cops have begun deploying a crack team of ‘nuisance motorcyclists’ to weave in and out of slow-moving traffic, plough through ranks of empty metal dustbins down narrow cobbled side streets, leap dramatically from one loosely-slated rooftop to another etc in hot pursuit of wrong-doers on (and above) the mean streets of B Town.

Some local residents (presumably the ones with something to hide) have expressed concern over the hair-raising antics of the specialist unit that’s already being referred to – even by their own handlers – as the ‘anti-social bike team’ but the dramatic effects of their unorthodox crime busting tactics were clear for all to see last week when nuisance bikers played an instrumental role in recovering a white van just eight minutes after it got stolen.

Driven away in the notorious Low Moor area (Lo-Mo to its denizens), the white Ford Transient vehicle was found up a Thornbury back alley within little more than two shakes of a lamb’s tail. All thanks to the go-anywhere do-anything antics of the nuisance bike boys.

Commander Dave Spokesman paid fulsome tribute to the plucky anti-socialists and their nippy two-wheeled machines: “The nuisance motorcycle team is staffed by dedicated police officers who move quickly through traffic and, on this occasion, allowed us to find the stolen vehicle quickly, and possibly prevent the loss of property from within the vehicle.”

Will other police forces around the country will take heed of this deeply unorthodox but highly effective new approach to possible crime prevention? Or will it go the same way as the Tapir Squad, whose operations were quickly shut down, with the tapirs donated – with tragically unforeseen consequences – to a private petting zoo near Doncaster.


October 27, 2014

It’s a wonder anything ever gets done around here with this lot in charge. Politicians and civil servants are forever calling for things to be thought through, considered or otherwise contemplated, when the rest of us understand perfectly well that – as the FCA’s Dennis Wheatley succinctly put it – it’s best to ‘shoot first, ask questions later’.

The latest instance of this regrettable tendency is a dispiriting round of calls for ‘more thought’ to be given to the implementation of independent whiplash panels, currently being fast-tracked for launch in early 2015.

Louise Helmand of pointless Westminster insider’s talk-shop the Trainspot Select Committee declares self importantly that she and her fellow committee members would have liked “more thought given to how [the panels] are actually going to operate and how they might be assessed” to make sure they are not biased in favour of either defendants or injury-faking scroungers.

Well, sorry Louise, but this is not the time for shilling, shallying, dithering or dilly-dallying. This is a time for action. Bold, decisive, precipitate action.

So, come you bludgers: let’s stop agonising over whether and how whiplash panels will work. Let’s just set some up and get them started on exposing the scroungers claiming compensation for injuries of a fictional, fantastical, or otherwise trumped-up nature.

Otherwise we could all be stuck here gassing ‘til the cows come home.


October 26, 2014

As anyone who’s ever had the misfortune to find themselves transnavigating the surface of a bubbling cauldron (and, let’s face it, who hasn’t) will readily confirm, such a passage can be, to say the very least of it, a trifle warm on the warm side and possibly just a tad choppy.

Well brace yourselves Motor Insurance People, because you’re in for something alarmingly analogous!

Analists Towels What’s On are predicting that tomorrow’s motor insurance market will feature a “bubbling cauldron” containing, not of the traditional leg of lamb, eye of newt, bat’s pizzle etc, but ‘big data, telematics and driverless cars’: a combination of ingredients combining manifest indigestibility with violent turbulence.

Insurers who have never heard of telematics or who thing big data is an online matchmaking service for plus-sized people, will discover to their cost that the Towels What’s On issue cauldron is “ready to scald” them.

The steamy heaving bubble troubled surface of tomorrow’s unappetising issue stew raises the pressing question, Towels note, ‘of how companies foster and manage innovation.’ Bankstone News can only imagine that it raises some other questions too, but has frankly no idea what they might be.

And, as if the three main ingredients weren’t already enough, Towels are predicting that they’re likely to be seasoned with ‘continuing business volatility and uncertainty over recent and future legislative and regulatory changes.

Why does life have to keep changing? What was wrong with the way things were? Is this enough words yet?


October 20, 2014

If Bankstone News should one day disappear, without apparent cause or trace, agents of the surveillance state will probably have whisked your correspondent off to a secure place of reeducation, there to be subjected to a relentless diet of Keene, Codplay, Snot Petrol, stuffed crust pizza, and the the art of Jack Vettriano until we accept that privacy is the enemy within and that every last vestige of unsurveilled human existence must be rooted out, rounded up, and severely smitten down upon.

What lies behind such lurid paranoia, you may wonder. The answer is simple. On more than one occasion Bankstone News has gone on record openly doubting the wisdom or necessity of having our every movement, action, decision, opinion or preference monitored, recorded, processed, and stored somewhere on someone or other’s database. This organ’s tardiness in welcoming the snow-bright future in which no-one may drive without being black-boxed/telematicised will be sufficient to condemn us.

But until Big Brother shuts us down, Bankstone News is not afraid to take a lonely stand against the ongoing global conspiracy to turn people’s lives into data that enables the megacorporations of which nation states are mere puppets to keep tabs on us, sell us things, and ultimately enslave us in a nightmare future where a separate race of genetically enhanced plutocrats holds the rest of us in thrall as menials bred for endless toil and/or as playthings for their restlessly malign caprice.

The recent news that Tesco has been selling people to insurance companies may have shocked some people. Not Bankstone News. Oh no, we saw this one coming a mile off. Get real, People! The Man can access your data wherever it’s at. The Man wants your medical records? No problem. Man wants to know where you’ve been and when? Telematics tells him. No telematics? He can check your mobile phone. None of them available? That’s where Britain’s 10 million CCTV feeds come in. Let’s face it, resistance is useless: there really is no place to hide.

Not content with stealing our lives, big business is after our dignity and, more importantly, our ability to listen to really loud rebellious rock music as we exercise what pitiful illusion of liberty remains to us by driving in dull unwitting futility from one place to another. Word on the street, Bankstone News read recently in the Daily Telegraph, is that “Black box car insurance will monitor your texts and turn down your radio.” Hurtling towards vanishing point with Sabbath turned down to 3 is hardly the same.

Damn you Surveillance Society.

Damn you and your demented digital dreams of global tyranny.

Damn you, God damn you, God damn you all the freaking way to hell!


October 20, 2014

The guys and gals at Thorneycrofts know when to go out. They know when to stay in. Get things done.

On Wednesday night last week they knew with utter certainly that it was time to go out to the Modern Law awards hosted by knitwear’s Gyllles Badbreath at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, London (a town somewhere down South).

Gloomy smog-ridden London can scarcely have known what hit it as the Thorneycroft crew descended in a blaze of glamour that would put the cast of Dynasty* to shame (*for the benefit of younger readers, this is a reference to a very old TV show – bit like Dallas, which you might have heard of, only set sin Denver or somewhere. Anyway it had Joan Collins in it, and Stephanie Thingy, and other glamorous people besides. Hope that’s clear)!

On an entirely separate note, Bankstone Supremo Dickson Tickson has just passed Bankstone News a note asking us to launch a campaign encouraging the entire population of the UK to adopt a single standard form of informal salutatory address, to whit: “Utcha!” – a saying, he insists, in general usage among the populace of Northamptonshire, and hence, he agues, perfectly good enough for everyone else.

Being, as yet, unsure as to whether like Ciao, for example, Utcha can be deployed with equal validity at either the beginning or the end of a conversation, it is inevitably with a certain tentativeness that, before pushing off the Badgers for the afternoon, Bankstone News bids you a hearty Utcha til next time.

Whenever that may be…


October 20, 2014

The dramatic impact of the recent government crack down on people making motor insurance claims was clear to see during the third quarter of 2014 as motor insurance premiums rose for the first time since 2011.

The latest Confusing Towels What’s On motor insurance price tracker index shows average premiums up a massive 0.4% during Q3 2014, with the FT interpreting this upturn as “the clearest evidence yet that an era of cheaper cover may be coming to an end.”

News of rallying motor insurance rates will come as a welcome respite to consumers sick of seeing endlessly shrinking premiums as a tsunami of trumped up claims for accidents that never happened forced insurance firms to slash their rates right down to the very bone.

Now the government’s insurance-industry-inspired War on Whiplash, Counter-Offensive against the Compensation Culture, Assault on Access to Justice, and other associated campaigns are finally starting to bite, insurers are once again free to make some money.

That’s great news for them, and great news for car insurance consumers who can now be confident that motor insurers won’t all suddenly go bust leaving them high, dry, and legally unable to drive anywhere.


October 20, 2014

Cynically shameless insurance people will tell insurance journalists any old nonsense to get their names in print. Why, only the other day Mark Blower-Dycke of owl-fronted motor brokers BeWilder, the firm whose print advertising was seemingly designed circa 1974, fed Insurance Ache reporters some far-fetched twaddle about journalism being an intensely glamorous high-risk occupation whose practitioners perforce attract sky-high motor insurance quotes.

I expect you chaps are “up all night interviewing the rich and famous and ferrying them around” MBD told Ache reporters, giving members of the Fourth Estate top billing in an ad hoc high-premium professions list.

Croupiers come in at number two, perhaps, Ache reporters conject, because of the “late nights” and because “underwriters believe the urge to gamble might extend to when they are in the driving seat.” Although the latter concern might possibly apply to gamblers more than croupiers.

Who else? Let’s see. What about funfair employees, or [deleted] as we always used to call them. Anyone foolish enough to put that down on their application form in the space marked profession fully deserves the punitive premium pummelling they’re in for. Perhaps, Ache supposes, funfair people merit higher rates because of the “late nights” the “moral hazard” and the “past reputation.” And, for all Bankstone News knows, those probably are the kind of things underwriters take account of.

Racing drivers are at number four in BeWilder’s back-of-a-fag-pack countdown to dangerous drivers. That’s probably down to the late nights and the need for speed. Plus, Insurance Ache urges us to consider, imagine what could happen “if Jenson Button gives Lewis Hamilton a lift and crashes” after work one night!

Footballers, it seems, are much the same as racing drivers (worse in some cases), e.g. imagine the carnage if Wayne Rooney (£38m) “drives his pal Messi” (£197m) back to his gaff late one night and has a major RTA.

Who would want to insure a risk like that?!

Not to worry, soothes worldly-wise Blower-Dycke: “There is always a price and there is a premium for any risk. There will always be an insurer prepared to underwrite as long as the price can be paid.”

Even for people who stay up late.


“Forty quid a month for the Aston, eh Bond? Best not tell the croupier that!”

October 7, 2014

When Insurance Tides reported this week that ‘Brightisde has taken its eCar website offline after a cyber attack’, Bankstone News was keen to learn more about this mysterious Brightisde of which it had somehow never heard.

Searchling online turned up no evidence of any so named entitity. Puzzlement reigned, eventually followed by a genius-like flash of inspiration. Might the name Brightisde simply be a garbled version of that by which is known Bristol-based insurance firm Darkside, the company founded by high-profile political donor and occasional Inspector Dreyfus lookalike Aircon Banksy?

On closer inspection (precisely the type of inspection, as regular readers will know, in which Bankstone News specialises) it seems that it might indeed Darkside to whom the hapless Insruance Times had intended to refer.

The penny having well and truly dropped, Bankstone News knew at once that this was in fact the story about a mysterious hack attack that had forced Darkside to take down its ye-Car website. A story, we recalled, that had sparked a veritable tsunami of speculation amongst the idle.

No sooner had news of the Darkside cyber assault broken than the world and his wife rushed to suggest that foul play involving minions of Darkside’s ousted former boss might be implicated.


This is just the latest in a long line of false accusations and snide innuendos levelled at the Bankster (anyone with a name including the resonant syllable ‘bank’ is OK in Bankstone News’ book) after he had the temerity to give practical (monetary) expression to the high esteem in which he holds those plucky political partisans the UK Independence Party and thereafter to insist upon his ‘somebody’ status by announcing plans to multiply his originally proposed donation by up to as much as ten times. Where’s the crime in that?, Bankstone News would like to know.

The rationale for the Darkside accusations doubtless stems from the bitter feud raging between Mr B and the Darksiders who claim that after departing from the company he lured its entire staff (aside from one distinctly unpromising work-experience tea boy) away to join a new firm, Southern Rock, which he set up on a large rock at the southern tip of the hispanic peninsula and named in tribute to acclaimed Newcastle-based lender Northern Rock?

Clearly, the allegations are absurd beyond all ridiculousness. No even-partially-sane person, however feeble minded, would ever dream of taking such a flight of fantasy seriously.

Not even Bankstone News.


October 7, 2014

We want to mix things up and get out of our comfort zone.

Eerily reminiscent of the disembodied Peter Fonda rant that introduces Primal Scream/Andrew Weaterall’s Loaded, this was the terrifyingly irrational rallying call issued by knitworking expert Julia Frogspawn at the recent inaugural meeting of militant pressure group Independent Wimmin in Insurance Networks (iWIN), hosted, perhaps ill-advisedly, by the Worshipfulle Companie of Insurancers.

The hormonal outpourings of disturbingly un-male people of Frogspawn’s ilk, are giving rise to growing unease within the normally level-headed and pragmatic world of insurance.

Hardly surprising, then, that some members of that bastion of tradition and common sense the Worshipfulle Companie (who have recklessly ushered iWim under their venerable aegis) should perceive the self-willed sisters of iWIN, as iWoman Barbara Merry observed at the very same inaugural meeting, as ‘intimidating’ and ‘strident’.

With emotions that go up as high as 57 (compared with the average male’s 3), females are, as anyone who has ever actually gone up and talked to one will readily confirm, inherently terrifying. Scientists have proved that they can bend even the strongest man to their will, using just their bare emotions.

Dependent women are all well and good, of course, and can actually serve a valuable ornamental purpose, but can it be sensible for the Worshipfulle Companions to provide a platform for these self-avowedly independent women?

Independence might sound innocent enough in the abstract, but independent of what we should perhaps be asking. The answer, chillingly, is men! The secret agenda of iWim is in fact nothing short of the total subjugation of the male sex and the remaking of insurance as a man-free profession.

In a world ruled by iWim and their kind, men would be reduced to a pitifully subservient role, hapless targets for distain, mockery, objectification and sexual humiliation, carriers of heavy shopping and fetchers-down of things on high shelves.

Let’s nip this nonsense in the bud, before things get out of hand.



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