The Insider considers a few nice little earners, including a stake in West Ham. Maybe it’s because he’s a Londoner?

Here’s one for the lads. The yarn goes that Towergate’s Clive Nathan was entertaining deep inside Club Wembley with a few of insurance’s finest, such as Mark Cliff, when he spotted a wind-up opportunity not to be missed. Apparently, the group had their kids with them, who were busily collecting the autographs of the famous footballers present when Nathan spotted Chris Giles at another table with some serious-looking folk he assumed were bankers. So Nathan sent his young son over to the Giles table to ask the man for his autograph. A bemused Giles asked: “Why me?” Without missing a beat, Nathan junior replied: “Aren’t you the famous Chris Giles from the insurance industry?” At this point Giles clocked the group in the corner waving. A pretty withering look was returned.

Just say Mr Mageean sent you …

Journalists end up in all sorts of unexpected places, so the chaps at Insurance Times were not too surprised to be invited to a ‘secret club’ in the heart of the City for QBE’s property briefing. They found the unmarked door, descended the winding staircase and eventually found the QBE team in a private screening room. As the presentation started, it became clear this was a perfectly respectable event after all – until property managing director Bernard Mageean hinted at the next show, the “Index of Depravity”. Sadly, my mole couldn’t hang around to find out what this meant, but the assembled hacks looked pretty excited.

A not-so pearly queen

It was a right old cockney knees-up as Towergate invited Insurance Times journalists to one of the City’s finest culinary offerings – a pie and mash shop. Mind you, the choice of venue didn’t go down too well with deputy chief executive Amanda Blanc, I hear, who is more accustomed to Welsh Rarebit than jellied eels. Apparently, Amanda made her dislike of all things mashed known loud and clear, but it was good news for the rest, including Clive Nathan, who stuffed their boat races.

New sponsor? Simples!

Talking about pies, my pal the Meerkat has got his (little) fingers in many. Apparently, the character’s owner, Compare the Market, has been in talks with cash-strapped Scottish football club Stirling Albion, who is keen to sell its naming rights for £50,000 a year to ease its debts. The proposal would see the team being renamed as Stirling Albion Meerkats. And the team’s first signing: Tyrone Mears-kat!

Toying with the grandfather of punk

Now here’s a million-dollar idea to give our fluffy friend a run for his money. Given the success of the meerkat toys, which sold for hundreds of pounds before Christmas (no, I didn’t sell mine), how about an Iggy Pop doll? I can see it now. Punch his face and he sings ‘Lust for Life’ at you. Come on AXA, what are you waiting for?

Your guess is as good as mine

For all its talk of understanding insurance, the Tory party seems a little perplexed when it comes to brokers. Speaking at Lloyd’s this week, shadow treasury minister Mark Hoban insisted the Tories were committed to a brave new post-FSA world. The Bank of England will monitor insurers and a Consumer Protection Agency will cover IFAs. But where do insurance brokers fit? After some dithering, Hoban could only say he “suspected” the dividing line between the Bank of England and the CPA was not set, but he “guessed” brokers would come under the CPA. Good to know the future of the industry may be determined by nifty guesswork …

Hammer time

Finally, the West Ham ownership saga has come to an end and the Hammer’s new joint-chairman David Sullivan and David Gold have issued a plea to wealthy fans to invest in the club. Now, I know there are a few of you in the insurance industry, so how’s about you club together and buy a stake? The consortium could be led by Heath Lambert boss and West Ham nut Adrian Colosso. I’m sure he has a claret smoking jacket hiding away somewhere. IT