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Tuesday, June 20

Work and Fear

Yesterday I worked really hard. I was still in the office at around 7pm. This is because there's a lot to do, I'm enjoying doing it, and I think I've nearly turned the corner and broken the inertia.

It's still going to be a long journey. I hope that the dividends will be great when this is all done, though. I won't bother explaining it as it's boring and hard to put into words anyway.

After work I zoomed home, via Tesco for sushi, and had a very relaxing evening. It's sort of the calm before the storm. At some point soon, I'm going to have to think about moving my stuff from Farnborough. The gig diary will also get busy again, and that's going to take me away from things. In addition, I'd quite like to get out and about. I've been a bit sedate of late.

Highlights of yesterday evening include playing the Itbox at the local pub and getting a long much-needed shower.

Lunchtime Bank Appointment
As I'm arranging a new mortgage, it's only natural that I should fall prey to the vultures who are insurance brokers. Today was my appointment with such a broker. Nice chap, though he was, putting me at my ease before launching into his pitch, I'm reminded of Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary when it comes to insurance:
INSURANCE, n. An ingenious modern game of chance in which the player is permitted to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating the man who keeps the table.
My dear sir, that is a fine house -- pray let me insure it.
With pleasure. Please make the annual premium so low that by the time when, according to the tables of your actuary, it will probably be destroyed by fire I will have paid you considerably less than the face of the policy.
O dear, no -- we could not afford to do that. We must fix the premium so that you will have paid more.
How, then, can I afford that?
Why, your house may burn down at any time. There was Smith's house, for example, which --
Spare me -- there were Brown's house, on the contrary, and Jones's house, and Robinson's house, which --
Spare me!
Let us understand each other. You want me to pay you money on the supposition that something will occur previously to the time set by yourself for its occurrence. In other words, you expect me to bet that my house will not last so long as you say that it will probably last.
But if your house burns without insurance it will be a total loss.
Beg your pardon -- by your own actuary's tables I shall probably have saved, when it burns, all the premiums I would otherwise have paid to you -- amounting to more than the face of the policy they would have bought. But suppose it to burn, uninsured, before the time upon which your figures are based. If I could not afford that, how could you if it were insured?
O, we should make ourselves whole from our luckier ventures with other clients. Virtually, they pay your loss.
And virtually, then, don't I help to pay their losses? Are not their houses as likely as mine to burn before they have paid you as much as you must pay them? The case stands this way: you expect to take more money from your clients than you pay to them, do you not?
Certainly; if we did not --
I would not trust you with my money. Very well then. If it is certain, with reference to the whole body of your clients, that they lose money on you it is probable, with reference to any one of them, that he will. It is these individual probabilities that make the aggregate certainty.
I will not deny it -- but look at the figures in this pamph --
Heaven forbid!
You spoke of saving the premiums which you would otherwise pay to me. Will you not be more likely to squander them? We offer you an incentive to thrift.
The willingness of A to take care of B's money is not peculiar to insurance, but as a charitable institution you command esteem. Deign to accept its expression from a Deserving Object.

Anyhoo, the guy was trying to sell me critical illness cover. His pitch went along the following lines.

You, sir, are a very fat man who will inevitably get a hideous disease and maybe, if you're very unlucky, die of it. If this happens, and it will, we can give you an amazing lump sum, for free, to pay for everything you could possibly have borrowed on mortgages etc. Then you'll recover and be ill from laughing about how good a deal it was.

He tried to scare me, appeal to my sense of greed, and also shame me into taking out his policy. Great salesmanship - perhaps I shouldn't be so cynical... or perhaps I'm now old enough and wise enough to see through things like this.


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