The Insider has a flashback to broking battles in the 1970s, while he hopes Christmas does come early for Charles Earle

In one of two live interviews at the Insurance Times’ Broker Forum, dead-pan David Slade batted off the questions from former AXA Insurance boss Peter Hubbard with the skill of a seasoned media presenter.

Straight-talking Brummie Slade fired from the hip in an emotional outburst about how he likes to be sold to, or more likely how he doesn’t like to be sold to. Slade was adamant that he did not want his comments to come across as sexist, but apparently he is a little fed up with certain attractive, salespeople displaying a little too much flesh as part of their pitch.

Still the young dudes after three decades

You can only imagine it was like a scene from the TV show Life on Mars. On stage at the Insurance Times’ Broking Forum last week, a picture emerged of AXA’s Paul Meehan in 1970’s Yorkshire sweeping across the Dales in his Ford Cortina, carefully groomed sideburns and wide-collared shirt, ready to do battle for each and every account with a young broker from the other side of the county, known only as P Hodson.

The respect is still mutual 30 years on. But this time out, as the two men went head to head on stage in Manchester, there was a new young pretender in town too, a certain Chris Giles. After much speculation about a possible merger, Giles and Hodson were finally asked the question about whether a tie up was possible or not. And in a rare display of affection the pair clutched hands before reeling off a list of considerations as to why it was both a good and a bad deal.

In the end the conclusion became as clear as the science behind time travel itself. But it was good to hear those guys talking together about putting the wind up insurers on commissions.

Opportunity knocks for CII

Sandy Scott was happily dining with two insurance bigwigs from the Middle East, talking up the merits of the CII, when who should unexpectedly strut into the restaurant other than Piers Morgan. Sandy is not one to be easily star struck however the same could not be said of his guests. Having seen their hero on satellite TV, the two guests pleaded with Sandy to strike up a conversation with Morgan.

But Sandy was having none of it. He’s set up a taskforce to drive up standards in insurance. So come on Sandy, surely you could have explained to Piers your impressive mission, because he more than anyone needs to know that in this highly valued industry of ours, Britain’s got talent.

On the wagon and into the black

I’ve shared a drink or two with some of the City’s biggest characters, and all the bonhomie and back slapping has left me with some fine memories. But there’s one person I won’t be drinking with in the immediate future, and that’s Charles Earle from Arista. I hear he’s given up alcohol until Arista makes a profit.

It’s not an easy task, especially in a soft market, for a new company to pull in a profit but I hear he’s aiming to turn in a monthly operating profit by the end of this year. Now that’s one Christmas party I won’t want to miss.

AXA won’t face the music

We’ve all heard of the “dog eating my homework” excuse but a dog chewing on a saxophone is a new one. But it’s what happened to a professional saxophonist who was hired to play at AXA Art’s Musical Instrument Insurance reception, so my spy tells me.

Before the reception my Insurance Times’ agent was taken on a private tour of Royal Festival Hall, where she was shown the Royal box. Apparently millions were spent to get the acoustics just right so the likes of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Pink Floyd could play there but during the tour my spy found out that AXA does not in fact insure the musical instruments stored at the London venue. An underwriter admitted that AXA was “working on it”. Reports of the hall’s manager being sweet-talked in Pink Floyd’s dressing room are still unconfirmed.