Being deprived of home comforts four days a week, travelling miles each day and meeting hundreds of brokers over a three-month period is enough to drive anyone mad.

And Independent assistant general managers Ian Helmore and Neil Williams admitted they had suffered under the strain after enduring the gruelling Independent Absolute 2 roadshow. They spent their time on the coach, eating the same food for three months.

You have to be trained to cope with such trials and Independent's “big man”, Michael Bright, is a big fan of training, as we all know. But Backchat was a little perplexed to hear about the company's plans for a new academy.

“The academy is a former mental asylum, so it needs a lot more work before it is suitable for us,” said Helmore. “It needs more padding on the walls and stronger bars on the windows.”