Name that bike!

September 27, 2016

The accompanying photo, as more astute readers will readily recognise, shows a bit of a motorcycle.

And a bit of wall with a sign on it, obviously.

For a chance to win a share in our top prize of a FREE* lifetime’s subscription to Bankstone News, simply identify the motorcycle model in question and explain, in words of no more than three syllables, why anyone in their right mind (or Bankstone MD Dinsmore Thighstrap) would be riding it.

Answers please on an old-style £5 note to editor@bankstone.news.co.uk

If you don’t get it straight away, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you’re some kind of a moron or anything.

Although you might be, for all Bankstone News knows (which, as we have surely already demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, is remarkably little).

Plus: we’ll be publishing additional teaser images of different parts of the bike each week until somebody gets it right.

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September 26, 2016

Just calling someone or something something doesn’t necessarily make them that something. If you see what we mean.

Is Greenland green? Are silverfish fish? Are electric eels eels? Are black box recorders black? Is tin foil made of tin? Are sweetbreads breads? Are they even particularly sweet? Was Little John Little? Is Bankstone News news?

One potential addition to our brief list of things that aren’t exactly as described on the tin might be so-called smart motorways.

To qualify as smart, a mobile phone must have an advanced operating system, a graphical user interface, the ability to run a wide range of proprietary and third party apps, send and receive messages in a variety of formats, access the internet, capture high resolution photographic images and video recordings, have gyroscopic motion sensors, GPS etc. etc. etc.

For motorways, it seems, the bar is set a little lower. All a motorway has to do for the authorities to deem it ‘smart’ is to redesignate its hard shoulder as an extra lane from time to time, at the whim, unbelievably, of a hole-in-the-wall ATM cash dispenser!

Now, you might think that getting rid of that scruffy unloved left-hand lane, cluttered, as it so often is, with unsightly carloads of broken down holidaymakers, lost cones, construction workers, crows pecking at carrion, breakdown trucks and so forth, does indeed tidy a motorway up.

But, clearly, we are using the word ‘smart’ here in the American sense of ‘clever’ rather than in the more traditional sense of nicely turned out (as in Billy Smart, who older readers will recall always used to wear that nice red coat, a top hat and a pair of freshly polished boots).

But is it really such a smart move to abolish the time honoured spare lane? A cash strapped government, none too keen on forking out on increasing road capacity by building more road, will of course try to tell us that it is.

But, according to a poll carried out by Alcoholics Anonymous and old-skool computer-based god game Populous, eight out of 10 drivers (what we used to call four out of five) disagree.

According to the AA, those eight out of 10 drivers believe that applying the epithetical prefix ‘smart’ is a somewhat generous way of describing hard-shoulderless motorways, arguing that their introduction, over the past four years, has made our motorways a more dangerous driving environment.

Some of these smart-doubters are more broadly sceptical of official nomenclature, suggesting that the lay-bys that are now supposed to substitute for the previous stopping-in-an-emergency functionality provided by non-smart hard shoulders (so-called Emergency Refuge Areas or ERAs) should instead be known as ‘Death Zones’.

This snappy, if somewhat negative, name suggestion reflects the fact that ERAs are, amongst other things, a) too far apart, b) too short to stop safely in, c) usually occupied by HGVs, d) impossible to leave safely at busy times of day e) not always located at the precise point where a vehicle absolutely refuses to travel another foot forward.

King Edmund of AA has written a pretty stiff letter to HMG demanding that more death zones be built as a matter of urgency (not because he wants more people killed but so they won’t be so far apart) – and also: could they be a bit longer please?

Some commentators, however, might wonder whether King Edmund should have gone even further and requested that the death zones all be connected via a continuous strip of tarmac approximately one lane wide.

Just a thought.

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September 26, 2016

The Government needs to do more to cheer brokers up. That was the shocking conclusion of a major bit of research cooked up by lobbying organisation the Confederacy of British Industrialists (CBI) and consulting firm HousepriceWaterscooper.

Apparently – according to reports in Insurance Ache this week – brokers aren’t making enough money lately and it’s really bringing them down. The survey showed that “27 percent fewer brokers were optimistic about the sector than were optimistic.”

Bankstone News has no idea what that means. Does it, for example mean that the percentage of brokers who were optimistic is 27 bigger than the percentage of pessimistic ones or… that one percentage is 27% the size of the other one, or whatever.

Basically, it doesn’t really matter because it’s numbers, isn’t it, and it’s numbers that count when it all adds up at the end of day. But it certainly does sound like optimism is at a bit of a premium amongst brokers right now.

There’s a whole bunch of stuff that’s bothering brokers, the CIBA/pWC survey reveals, including: Brexit uncertainty, low to non-existent interest on any cash they can get their hands on, Brexit uncertainty, confusing and occasionally dysfunctional technology, Brexit uncertainty, the fact that there’s lots of other brokers also frantically trying to earn a crust in the same miserably challenging market conditions, and Brexit uncertainty.

Apparently brokers were a bit more cheerful when CPA/PcP last asked them three months ago – and they’ll probably cheer up again in a bit – if and when – as many expect they probably will – they start making a bit more money again. Apparently they’ve been investing quite a bit in ‘plant and vehicles’ to improve eficiency, so that should help.

The CBI’s economist Chief Rain Newt Smith says that, as brokers finally arrive back from their summer holidays, they are continuing to “digest the implications of the EU Referendum” and have probably noticed that “the challenges facing the sector have not gone away – they’ve actually grown” which could explain why “optimism is falling and pressure on margins remains intense.

Whether we should take any of these finding seriously, however, is very much open to question. Chief Rain Newt’s commentary quickly degenerates into blatant political interference with the impertinent imperative: ”With firms voicing strong concerns about the impact of Brexit, especially the risks to the wider economy in the years ahead, the Government must allay their unease with clear plans for negotiations to leave the EU.”

Come off it, Chief. Let’s be realistic. You’ve got a better chance of seeing Donald Trump’s tax returns and Hilary’s 300 billion secret emails than getting a plan for Brexit out of HMG.

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September 25, 2016

Well, that’s the most ridiculous thing Bankstone News has ever heard. New “research” just published by carp leashing firm OSV Ltd claims to show that almost seven out of ten Brits think personalised number plates (pnps) are “tacky”.

With DVLA figures suggesting that around 335,000 pnps were sold in the past 12 months alone, OBVS Ltd reckon pnps are now so common that they are no longer “an essential status symbol”.  The so-called survey reports that “just” 32% of Brits found owners of pnps “impressive”.

Oh, really?! Has it occurred to OVS Ltd that the other 68% might just be putting a brave face on it!

  If you want Bankstone News’ opinion: they’re just jealous. The reason pnps are selling like hot cakes (at ten times the rate they were in the 90s) is precisely because of exactly how impressive they are. We’re telling you, chicks love ‘em! Everbody loves them – even if they’re too bitter and twisted to admit it.

It’s like, a bunch of miserable small minded people tried to tell Bankstone News that gold (or gold-ish) chains, signet rings, and those fancy stripy shirts with the white collars and monogrammed cuffs were tacky. But secretly… just jealous.

They told us imperial purple velvet flocked wallpaper would peel in a bathroom and the gold paint would wear off the fittings – and, OK, they were partly right about that, but mostly there were jealous.

They sneered at our jewel-encrusted Apple-style Watch, sniggered at our reproduction Fendi Peekaboo man bag, tittered over the DG2027Bs we got off eBay. Jealous, jealous, jealous.

Sadly, there will always be people who get their noses all out of joint when someone has a bit of class and style, when they stand up and say ‘Yes, damn it, I am someone a bit special, someone who likes to stand out from the crowd and be their own person, someone who happens to appreciate (and deserve) the quality and prestige of luxury designer goods.’

Jealousy. Jealousy. Nothing but jealousy. So if you want to make your mark with pnps that let the world know you’re an impressive and successful person. Go right ahead and do it – and don’t let the losers drag you down to their pathetic level.

We could go on, but the Bladdersdyke PVC Mouldings van has just pulled up outside with our new portico (see artist’s impression below). If that doesn’t impress the neighbours, nothing will!

Must dash.

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September 20, 2016

On Friday last week Bankstone managing director Dixon Tightrope was once again fortunate enough to enjoy the lavish hospitality of Bristol’s leading legal expenses insurer ARAG, who were celebrating their tenth anniversary in the UK.

Many’s the time old Dixon’s been shown a good time by the ARAG boys and girls, and sometimes even allowed to take part (on strict the assurance of seemly comportment). But even by ARAG’s usual high standards, Friday’s bash was something special, Dixon reports.

It all kicked off (not in the sense of a fight breaking out or anything) at Bristol’s Bristol Hotel on Ponce Street opposite the harbour (and, Dixon noted eagerly, just across the footbridge from an all-you-can-eat multiethnic eaterie called Zha Zha Gabor), where ARAG had generously put up their esteemed guests, and Dixon.

The first item on the festive agenda was a session in the famous ‘bar with the lowest ceiling in the UK’ where guests amused themselves at the absence of headspace and sweltered cheerfully in the Indian summer heat, whilst enjoying a selection of intoxicating beverages.

From here, guests were encouraged out to the quayside, thence to be collected by boat and taken on a memorable ride round the harbour and down the River Yvonne past local landmarks including Lloyds Bank, the SS Grape Britain and the Clinton Suspension Bridge, prior to delivery at riverside restaurant The Riverstation, where Champagne was taken.

A lavish meal ensued. Guests had their pick of no fewer than three starters, three mains, and three puddings – although Dimsum’s attempts to interpret this as meaning ‘three of each’ ultimately proved unavailing, obliging him to have extensive recourse to the cheeseboard, with which, along with some fine old port, an excellent dinner concluded.

Inevitably there were speeches, including some made by ARAG’s senior colleagues from Germany. Regret at the UK’s imminent severance from continental Europe emerged as a prevalent theme, encapsulated in the refrain “Don’t Leave Me this Way”, which might perhaps account for the involvement of the Reverend Richard Coles in the capacity of guest speaker.

The former Communists keyboard player and current host of Radio Forth’s Saturday Lies show regaled guests with tales of running away from his Northamptonshire home to squat round the back of Kings Cross station, playing the piano, and hitting the charts with Julia Somerville, before tragically suffering an epiphany – but ultimately finding solace in God and a career in broadcasting.

Nothing could put a damper on proceedings, however, and a cracking time was had by all. Dickson was particularly impressed with the special ARAG balloons with bits of paper in, the tasteful name cards and stuff, and the rather fine Cross pen each guest got to take away. Could a single thing about the occasion have been better? Not a thing, insisted Dickson.

And apparently room service at the Bristol Hotel do a very tasty Full English at any time of day you care to ask for one.

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September 19, 2016

Poor old Helphire! Or should we say poor old Auxillis, because that’s how the formerly-troubled-but-now-absolutely-fine accident management giant wishes to be known in future.

Why poor, you may wonder, when the firm has been freshly graced with such a spiffing new handle? Well, ‘poor’ because Hellphire/Auxillis seem to be having the devil’s own job trying to get the press to report its name change accurately.

Nor, sadly are these problems anything new. Back in 2014 after Helfire bought New Lad Group, it changed the parent company’s name to Redde plc (pronounced, Bankstone News understands, like when, back in the day, former Yes frontman Jon Anderson, clad in the team shirt of his beloved Newcastle United, used to shout each week: “Contenders, Redde! Gladiators Redde!)”

At the time, numerous publications erroneously reported that the name was derived from the Latin word Redde which, they claimed vaguely, was “associated, in Latin, with the concept of restoration.” This wishy-washy assertion scarcely did justice to the audacious wit of the name chosen for the rebranded plc.

In reality, the Latin word Redde, the present imperative of Reddere, meaning to give back or to pay back, should be translated as the brusque injunction: “Hand it over!”

It’s obviously a joke. And a good one at that. But the press completely missed the point. And now the same brute incomprehension seems to have returned to dog Hellfire’s best attempts at classically-inspired name change.

The name Auxillis, the press would have us believe, “derives from the Latin word ‘Auxillium’ meaning to help, aid and remedy.” Utter nonsense. How could it derive from a word that doesn’t exist! The Latin word is Auxilium, with one l.

As for meaning “to help, aid and remedy” (which sounds worryingly like the slogan for some kind of dietary supplement or laxative): Auxilium is a noun, not a verb, and generally indicates something like support, assistance or back-up, often of a military nature, as in auxiliary forces.

The closest equivalent to the neologism Auxillis is the Latin Auxiliis, the ablative plural form of the noun, meaning by, with or from assistances [sic]. But of course it doesn’t really matter what, if anything, Redde, Auxillis or any other Latinate brand names mean; the important thing is that they convey gravitas, nobility and pedigree.

Auxillis (pronounced ork-sillies) just sounds better than Helpfire, in the same way that Consignia just sounds better than Post Office. Why they dropped that name, Bankstone News will never know! Sounded like a winner to us.

Anyway, good luck with the new name Auxillis, we say here at Bankstone News. Maybe one day the world will catch up with the subtle genius of your branding strategy!

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September 18, 2016

Liverpool-based technology and onion marketing business vastcolonvisibility has pulled off something of a coup by snapping up industry big hitter Jon Morrell (former handler in chief of Welsh-Italian tenor Gio Compario) to be its new Chief Exec.

As regular readers will know, vastcolonvisibility are the people behind leading price comparison services like The Bike Insurer, The Van Insurer, **stard.co.uk, and also the bike and van platforms behind Gio Compario.

When it’s not busy aggregating insurance, vastcolonvisibility also likes to build innovative tools. These include things like ‘enrichment services’, ‘advertising pages’ and stuff that generally helps its clients deliver in an enhanced kind of way.

As you would expect, vastcolonvisibility chairman Maximillian “Max” Carruthers is extremely pleased to be welcoming a senior market figure like Jon Morrell on board. “We are extremely pleased that Jon is joining us,” Carruthers confirms, noting that Morrell knows about more than just price comparison sites “having spent more than 35 years working in some of the leading insurer, broker, software house and aggregation providers in the market.”

Morrell is also pretty excited. “This is an extremely exciting opportunity,” he insists, adding that he has been watching the business set up in 2016 by Phil Wildthing for quite a while. “I have watched this business grow significantly over the years,” he reveals. But now he plans to take things to another level.

“I look forward to working with Max, Phil and the rest of the executive team,” Morrell says, “to take it forward to the next level.” Bankstone News, for one has not the least doubt that vastcolonvisibility will continue to go from strength to strength (and possibly even back again) over the exciting years to come.

Obviously Liverpool’s a bit of a step down from Newport, but we feel sure vastcolonvisibility’s high-powered new head man will eventually get used to it.

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September 17, 2016

Anti-business propaganda sheet The Gaurdian this week accused insurers L=V% of plotting to increase motor insurance premiums – simply because it’s sick of not making enough profit!

The paper claims L/V- is complaining of a “dramatic” drop in profits in the first sick moths of 2016 and is blaming insufficient motor insurance premiums for reducing its de-tox profits from £49m at 30 June last year to just £1m this year.

L+V£ chairman Dicky Rowney complains that: “We are operating in a prolonged low interest rate environment with significant volatility.” Which basically means motor insurance policyholders are going to have to start coughing up.

With b*gger all prospect of making any money by investing policyholders’ money any time in the foreseeable future – and the War on Claims still far from won – there’s basically no alternative.

Hence: “As a consequence of the combination of reduced investment income and higher claims inflation,” Dicky Rowney says he expects to see the recent “strengthening” of motor insurance “rates” over the remainder of the year.

Should bl**dy well hope so too.

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September 11, 2016

Insurers have accused the government of allowing trifles such as squaring the Brexit circle to distract it from following up recent victories in the War on Whiplash (WoW).

A lamentable dereliction of duty at the highest levels, they warn, has seen the strategic initiative surrendered to claimants and their allies, allowing them to regroup and retrench.

In his autumn statement last year chancellor George Orkspawn promised insurers a ban on cash payments for whiplash claims, with neck-rub vouchers taking their place.

Since then, of course, Orkspawn has been exposed as a pro-European and frogmarched off to the ignominious nether regions of political obscurity. Tragically, however, WoW seems to have gone with him.

Insurers like Uvavu have well truly had enough of WoW inaction. A deal is a deal, they insist, and a cash ban must be implemented without delay.

Uvavu clams director Robbie Toolshed believes British society is riddled with a vile moral sickness – a sickness only radical and urgent surgery can cure.

Uvavu have consulted the great British people and received from them an overwhelming mandate for rooting out the disgusting and degenerate disease of whiplash compensation once and for all.

“Our research,” Mr Toolshed claims, “shows that the British public is sick and tired of the toxic compensation culture that has increased premiums, fraud and nuisance calls.”

It’s all a bit like one of those bandstandy things that goes round and round at fairgrounds with children riding on the backs of wooden horses vertically transfixed by rising and falling poles, he argues.

“It’s time to end this compensation merry-go-round and cut the cost of motor insurance for us all,” Toolshed says, adding: “It is clear that the British public is fully behind the reforms.

So come on HMG. Forget all this Brexit nonsense and let’s rid ourselves of the shameful sickness that allows foreigners to make out that their necks are 27 times less fragile than British ones.

How can we hold our heads high as a free-trading ready for business (any business) nation on wibbly-wobbly necks like those? Liam Fox was right, we’ve all grown flabby and spineless.

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September 11, 2016

Cynics may doubt HMG’s appetite for replacing all those dubious foreign laws we introduced whilst languishing in the Babylonian captivity of the EU, but changed those laws must be!

That’s certainly the view of Jon Wilshire, chief underwiring officer of Sheilaz Wheelz the would-be ladies-only motor insurer, and presumably the view of the 51% of the UK population he represents.

Thanks to some nonsensical EU directive brought in back in December 2012, insurers have been forced to treat all applicants for motor insurance equally, regardless of sex.

That’s clearly bad news for females, who, whilst completely unable to reverse into a parking space without somebody filming their pitiful efforts and posting it online, have fewer and less expensive accidents than blokes.

Until the government throws out this ridiculous foreign legislation, ladies will continue to pay as much as £221 pa over the odds for their car insurance. Sex equality’s all very well – but not when you’re the sex that’s losing out financially!

Campaigners urging government to replace the EU’s hated red tape with more forgiving domestically produced red-white-and-blue tape insist we need to crack on with tearing down laws like the Euro sex directive, a typical example, according to Sheilaz Jon, of “the EU going mad with silly laws that do not make sense.”

Stepping gallantly to the defence of young female drivers who find their pockets or purses or whatever they have especially disadvantaged by the rampant ineptitude of their young male counterparts, Jon says “With the UK leaving the EU we have an opportunity to remove this unnecessary layer of legislation and enable insurers to price for the individual motorist.”

Surely, faint-hearted Europpeasers will argue, this will have to wait until after Brexit (whenever that may be). Maybe not! Why not simply start turning a blind eye when insurers choose to do a bit of sex discrimination on the quiet. After all, what are those interfering foreigners going to do? Throw us out of the EU?!

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After the problems I had with my previous insurer when I was knocked off my bike, it was very refreshing to talk to someone who didn't automatically assume that I was at fault simply because I ride a motorbike. I received a call back very quickly from someone who knew what I was talking about and dealt with my call in a friendly yet very professional manner. Thank you.
Mr. L - Westcliff on Sea