Our Backchat Insider might not know much about the beautiful game, but no-one likes to be on the losing side

Backchat Insider

Hammers time

AXA’s Steve Hardy had a diamond package for the West Ham play-off final against Blackpool at Wembley last Saturday. Blackpool fan and Paymentshield boss Tim Johnson was keeping clear of him at Biba, to avoid pre-match ribbing. He should be thankful the conference wasn’t a week later – following the Hammers’ 87th minute winner, the level of mockery might have been insufferable.

Tall in the saddle

Brokers may be battling it out on all fronts, but I hadn’t realised it had got down to sniping at chief executives’ fashion choices. On stage at Biba, both Towergate’s Nick Houghton and Gallagher’s David Ross couldn’t resist making cheeky remarks about Stuart Reid’s cowboy boots. Then again, even I couldn’t help wondering what he’d look like in a Stetson after they’d pointed it out.

Together apart

You’ve got to love Cobra. I’m hearing that, at Tuesday’s AXA dinner at Biba, Cobra’s managing director John Lincoln and chief executive Steve Burrows kept their distance from one another. Burrows wants to buy out Cobra, but Lincoln is keeping his cards close to his chest. The two obviously didn’t want to be seen looking too cosy while the deal negotiations continue.

Thrills and spills

The hidden talents of people in the insurance industry never cease to amaze me or, it seems, their chief executives. Arista chief Charles Earle tells me that, at his company’s five-year anniversary party a couple of weeks ago, one of the staff from the West Country office was break-dancing while drinking beer. No such action for Charles himself, however. He was dragged to the dancefloor briefly but managed to make good his escape.

The wrong direction

Up bright and early on the first day of the Biba conference, I was chatting to a few broker pals who were staying in the Jurys Inn hotel in Manchester. One of my chums told me that the hotel is regularly used by the producers of The Jeremy Kyle Show, who put up guests there overnight before sending a cab to drive them to the TV studio. Any conference attendees getting into cabs outside the Jurys Inn were advised to make sure they double-checked the destination with the driver before setting off.

A colossal digger

I’m hearing that Adrian Colosso, the former Heath Lambert boss, is keeping himself busy by doing up his daughters’ homes. They better not let him loose in the garden. Colosso also has a gigantic digger and, if he gets bored, he might just take it to the lawn.