America learns what happens when Brit Docs go bad

October 11, 2019

Not all doctors are psychopaths, insists Bankstone News’s favourite song ‘n’ dance physician Dr Harry Prunes. This assertion, quoted in publicity materials for the maiden transatlantic outing for his acclaimed stage show Dial Medicine for Murder, might sound oddly defensive. But anyone who’s seem DM4M, will readily understand how audiences might leave with that suspicion.

Performed as a double-act docu-drama with Harry’s former med-school mucker Dr Andrew Johns, Dial Medicine for Murder tells the grimly fascinating parallel stories of Drs Harold Shipman and John Bodkin-Adams, collectively suspected of having murdered at least 600 people. It highlights striking similarities in Shipman and Adams’ approaches and psychopathologies.

This unusual entertainment has been metaphorically setting stages alight up and down the UK ever since it proved a sensation a few years back on Edinburgh’s famous Fridge festival. But this year saw Prunes and Johns’ big chance to ‘break the States’. It all came about when a hot-shot US theatrical ontropronoor caught the pair live on stage at London’s Greenwood Theatre and invited them to take DM4M stateside.

The upshot was shows at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Charlotte NC, on 19 September and the not-too-far-off-Broadway Norwood Club, NYC on the 23rd. Not since the Beatless, it is almost certainly true enough to say, has a British act made such an impression east of the Atlantic. Flirting, as it so sensationally does, with the popular North American fantasy that most Brits are mannerly psychopaths, the show seems certain to return to ex-colonial shores before long.

In the meantime, Bankstone News readers can catch the acclaimed DM4M closer to home at the Hilton Hotel, Glasgow on 13 October, or London’s RAC Club on the 24th. Or at least you could if both shows weren’t already sold out. You see, tickets to see the intercontinental sensation that is Harrandrew are like gold dust these days. But, if you keep your eyes peeled on the DM4M website you might just get early wind of a forthcoming foray and somehow nip in ahead of the hordes.

Click on the pic to view tour trailer


FCA declares war on loyal customer abuse

October 10, 2019

Ripping off policyholders who neglect to change insurer every year is a bit like smoking crack cocaine. That’s the view of Ian Huge, CEO of data analytics company Consumer Intelligence. And you’d assume he knows what he’s talking about.

The problem with crack cocaine, it seems, is that, once you’ve developed a taste for the crystalline off-white powder, it’s hard to kick the habit. Huge reckons quoting low to switchers while fleecing loyal customers has a lot in common with use of the infamous rock candy.

Or maybe so-called ‘dual pricing’ is more like taking performance-enhancing drugs. Athletes know they shouldn’t really dabble, but they look around, see everyone else doing it, and conclude – not unreasonably – that they’ll never compete and win if they’re the first to go clean.

It’s been going on for years, of course. Price comparison sites like Compario the Monkey Super Meerkat have been urging punters to shop around more or less since time began. But we can’t blame them entirely for our tendency to focus on price. That’s natural enough in a world where money doesn’t grow on trees.

It has recently come to the notice of regulatory ‘body’ the FCA that the interests of motor and household policyholders are perhaps not being best served by the industry as it is currently constituted. Penalising loyalty, the FCA has now suspects, might be a bad thing.

Naturally enough, the regulator’s plans to grasp and neutralise the dual pricing nettle again tend to focus on price. Cold turkey type solutions like outlawing dual pricing altogether or banning automatic policy renewals have startled and alarmed insurance folk.

But if insurance providers now urge caution on the regulator’s part, it’s not just because they’re pathetic sweaty addicts, quaking at the proposed denial of their latest fix. It’s partly, at least, because they’re starry-eyed idealists dreaming of a world where insurance isn’t all about price.

An unnamed broker, quoted in industry journal Insurance Rage this week, warned against anything that might ‘encourage people to shop around based only on price without taking account of value and service’. Presumably the fear is that the FCA’s well-meaning attempts to stop less fickle policyholders paying more might simply exacerbate our obsessive preoccupation with paying as little as possible.

‘Just moving for the sake of saving a few pounds without looking at the other elements of the offer,’ the anonymous broker warned starkly, ‘may be counterproductive.’ And, let’s face it, counterproduction is the last thing the insurance sector needs right now.

Insurers too are gravely concerned that the denial of their drug of choice might have unintended consequences. Banning automatic renewal might prompt customers to save themselves from loyalty abuse, but according to one insurer spokesperson, it could also result in the loss the ‘vital and often legal protection’ their policies provide, should they fail to replace lapsing cover.

Similarly, taking action against dual pricing could accidentally ‘stifle competition and innovation’ which would surely be akin to jettisoning a particularly precious baby along with some not especially dirty, and actually still quite warm, bathwater. Also, another insurer has queried, what chance would there be for new entrants in a market where they couldn’t dangle cut-price premiums in front of future fleecees.

It’s a fair point, Bankstone News feels sure you’ll agree, and one the regulator will hopefully bear in mind when it decides it’s all too complicated and leaves a grateful industry in peace.


Churchie says chill

October 10, 2019

Bromley-based Direct Lime offshoot Churchill has done something a bit weird. Its nodding-dog avatar has been reincarnated as what appears to be a living, breathing, skateboarding bulldog, but is in fact a CGI facsimile.

If you haven’t already had the pleasure, you can catch the old dog up to its new tricks here.

Gone is the relentlessly positive affirmation of the canine’s previous persona. In comes something suspiciously reminiscent of the (real) skateboarding bulldog who was such a sensation on social media a while back.

But why throw out a popular and widely recognised brand mascot in favour of a non-speaking dog on a board? Why abandon the former version’s sturdily traditional British demeanour, for something suspiciously millennial and metropolitan?

Paul Jordan of Engine Creative explains. ‘Churchill is one of the nation’s most loved brands, but brand love can slip into overfamiliarity.’ Unforgivably, ‘Churchie’ had been allowed to stand still (if you overlook the nodding).

Where previously Churchie had been content to sit around bantering with minor celebrities, now he must be set to work evincing the spirit of ‘chill’ as in ‘relax’ rather, presumably, than Netflix and chill.

Clearly the new-look Churchie character has legs. Short, stubby legs. But legs just the same. Imagine for yourself the many and varied ways in which the now mute mutt can be deployed to suggest how relaxed you too could feel if you only insured with Churchill.

Got anything yet? No? Never mind. Bankstone News feels sure those resourceful chaps at Angina Creative will think of something sooner or later. Or perhaps he could just carry on skateboarding. Maybe get one of those motorised ones though – so chilling doesn’t seem too strenuous.

It seems Britain’s best-loved insurance avatar had come to be seen as merely ‘dependable and reliable.’ But Churchill marketing person Lucy Brooksbank felt customers’ brand relationship was only ‘skin deep’ and ‘heavily reliant on love of the dog.’ The new look decisively breaks that dependency, cutting Churchill loose to leg-paddle itself around an anonymous urban environment for no apparent reason.

The ‘supercharged’ skateboarding dog, Brookspank claims, will ‘deliver greater substance to the brand by reigniting customers’ emotional connection’ and ‘radically changing how people see Churchill.’

Here at Bankstone News we say: uh-huh.

Click on the link to see WikiHow’s extremely helpful step by step guide to creating your own skateboarding dog.


White cliffs, blue passport, green card

October 8, 2019

Out go burgundy passports. In come green cards.

With just days to go until we may or may not be making a clean break from the European Union. insurance provider Admiral has warned motorists that even a pure, final-solution Brexit may not entirely deliver us from the scourge of non-blue travel-related documents.

That’s because anyone planning to drive, in a UK-registered motor, on the Continent (or indeed in the Republic of Ireland) from Halloween onwards will need one. A green card, that is.

But what is this ‘green card’ (and is there any good reason why it couldn’t be blue), you’re probably wondering. That’s an excellent question (and an equally excellent sub-question). Perhaps we’ll come back to that, if we may.

Any Brexit worth of the name will surely rid us of the much resented burden of so-called freedom of movement. No longer will we have to make do without the bureaucratic niceties that mark Brits out as special and different.

If you want to drive au continent (or head south of the no-hard border, if you’re starting from somewhere in Norn Ireland) you’ll now have the chance to apply to your insurance provider (two weeks in advance of your trip) for a special green card (see above) that proves – assuming that’s the case – that your UK motor insurance provides the minimum level of cover required by whatever countries you’re planning to drive in or through.

And if you have a trailer or a caravan or whatever, you’ll now be able to apply for a separate (compulsory) green card for that!

And if your existing insurance policy is likely to expire while you’re driving outside the UK, you can (in fact, you’ll have to) get a separate green card for the new policy.

Ditto the trailer or caravan or whatever.

Depending on which parts of Euroland you plan to pass swiftly through, you could also now qualify for an international driving permit

As a Brit abroad, you could also be eligible for ‘additional checks.’

And of course you’ll get to decorate your shiny new Aston Martin with a lovely acrylic GB sticker free from any of that loathsome federalist yellow-on-blue nonsense.

All in all, we’re well on the way to making Continental journeys special again.




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