Years ago my grandfather, Jim, fell out with his lady-friend, Ethel. After some quizzing of the pair of octogenarians by their respective families, the truth of the matter was outed.

Ethel, you see, had proffered the bowl of boiled sweets from her coffee table and said: "Do you want a Murray Mint?" But Jim, her friend for many years, had misheard her. The last Ethel saw of him was as he stormed out of her flat screaming the words: "Marry you? Not bloody likely."

They didn't speak to each other for weeks, but happily, once the misunderstanding had been explained, they were soon friends again.

Far be it for Insurance Times to suggest the industry has been behaving like elderly relatives, but there does seem to have been some selective deafness, leading to tragic misunderstanding. And the result has been an almost complete breakdown in relationships.

But a little bit of clarity at the Biba conference has gone a long way to resolving those problems.

It has been suggested that when Biba chairman, Simon Bolam, first wrote his speech to open the conference, it was so hot, when it came of out of the printer it spontaneously combusted. By toning it down, Bolam was able to explain in clear and concise terms what was upsetting brokers. People listened.

And the reaction was immediate. Norwich Union, without making any promises about the detail, has said it will look again at some of the brokers' concerns, as expressed so calmly by Bolam.

Which just goes to show that jaw, jaw is better than war, war.