Which is more scary, a loss adjuster in a Beatle wig or a shareholder with a footwear fetish? Insider would rather pick up a pig

To the Garden Museum for a medieval banquet hosted by Hastings Direct: the site includes buildings that date back to the great battle of 1066 and chief executive Ed Fitzmaurice was determined that the theme would run and run . . . and run. First, a series of presentations including an overview of the new Hastings Direct battle plan, weaponry and army capability, before a court jester ushered the battle-weary guests into the courtyard for sword fighting, tankards of ale, palm-reading and wenches.

A hog roast dinner (no swine flu in 1066) was presented by a comedy king before a jester on stilts enthusiastically manhandled a couple of reluctant guests. Neil Utley then took to the stage with a one-minute GCSE history lesson that saw great ancient battles compared to rampant Leeds United hooligans, the feudal system to the Towergate organisational structure and the French invasion to a day trip in Margate. But chirpy Utley certainly pulled it off, even if some of his facts were a little left field. My gratitude to the team at Hastings for the invite. Just to clarify, reports that Hastings private investors Tom Duggan and Peter Cullum were in attendance disguised in full body armour are, as yet, unfounded.

John, Paul, George, Ringo and Graham

Graham Cave, director of the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA), is off to a claims conference in the US this week, which reminds me that last year Cave was asked to represent Blighty by dressing up as a comedy Beatle. Apparently he nipped to the local mall, acquired a full Beatles wig, suit, and guitar and belted out “Yellow Submarine”. Someone has to do it.

Shoe fly, don’t bother me

We know shareholders can be a vocal bunch at an AGM, but some took it a bit too far at Fortis Bank’s AGM in Ghent, Belgium. Apparently some shareholders got rather angry after they failed to block the bank’s takeover by BNP Paribas in court and took it out on the executives by throwing shoes and coins. It is unclear whether the executives were able to avoid these “airborne missiles”, as President Bush did when he successfully ducked two shoes that were thrown at him by an Iraqi journalist. Barry Smith, chief executive of Fortis Insurance UK, insists the business is in good shape after recently announcing that it has doubled its profits. Well, if things change for the worse, Barry, I hope you have good reflexes.

Back to Denmark for kick-off

So you thought your commute from Sevenoaks was a drag on a cold, rainy Monday morning? Spare a thought for Alisdair Stewart, the Chartered Insurance Institute’s director of general insurance. He commutes each week from Denmark, and lays his head in Walthamstow on weeknights. The only upside, he says, is that he can sponsor his local football team, the Danish first division Skive IK. £200 buys him a corporate box with as much beer as he can drink. That’s got to ease the journey, hasn’t it?

Is Haste on the move?

The Sunday Telegraph has alerted me to speculation that RSA’s Andy Haste may be in line for the top job at Zurich. Haste has provided stability at RSA and while he has restructured and rebranded the group you would have hoped that now is the time for him to make an acquisition or two or diversify the group into a new market … as long as it’s not north America. Should Haste move to Zurich, any new chief at RSA would surely shake things up a little.

Let’s hear it for Biba

I was walking down Cornhill last week when traffic came to a halt and impatient drivers banged their horns. The culprit turned out to be a mobile billboard advertising next week’s Biba conference in Manchester that hadn’t seen the lights turn green. Was this a ploy to grab the attention of the London market? Either way, Biba will be hoping it brings Manchester to a standstill.

Our champion hog-catcher

The very day after the swine flu story broke, one of my pals from Insurance Times headed for a pig farm. The farm was in the UK, not Mexico, but still, what was she thinking? To be fair, the visit had been planned well in advance for another story, nothing to do with pig flu. But did she really have to hold a pig and ruin her boots? I was supposed to have coffee with her this week, but I think I’ll wait a while.