I‘ve got a feeling that this is going to be one of those long, drawn out posts, that drives what few readers a blogger, of my lowly status has, away. However, I want to be rid of my ‘chum’ Mr. Latham and maybe get onto some stuff that might be more interesting, nearly wrote exciting, so I’m risking it, mind you if it gets too big when I’m finished I’ll split it down the middle. Now that’ll be exciting, haven’t tried that trick before. If anyone thinks that splitting this is a good idea don’t be slow or shy in coming forward. Here it is almost 5000 words.
In case you’ve all forgotten, I did mention towards the end of the last rant a couple of other claims that stuck for reasons unknown, so I’ll get the ball rolling with those; they both came to me by my now, new drinking mate, Kjell; the Norwegians sure know how to handle their booze!
The first that I’m to regale you with wasn’t a big earth shattering claim, it was a piddling little claim of 30 quid,.
Yep! £30/0/0, not much if you say it quick, but a fair bit back in ’58, don’t forget the basic wage, was only 13 quid, and if you’re a young bloke building your own home…..
Kjell was looking after this young bloke, I suppose he wasn’t young, he had a few years on me that’s for sure, taking a claim from him, and came over to see me, and told me that he thought I’d better have a look at this claim, as it was beyond him.
Seems that whilst working in the bathroom of his house, under construction, he’d dropped a hammer into the bath, and it cracked, right through! Completely U.S. and he was making a claim for a replacement.
Before I go any further; this was definitely not covered by the policy he held!
Must admit I was curious; I could just have told Kjell to tell this bloke “Sorry there’s no cover”, and carried on with whatever I was doing, but I had to find out why the bloke thought he had a claim in the first place. So I up and fronted the counter.
Looked at him, Looked at his claim form and asked ” under what section of your policy are you claiming?” Fair question! He opened up his policy, he’d actually brought it in with him, a first for everything, and went to an endorsement. Old insurance blokes like Derrick will know what I’m rambling on about.
When this young fella took out his policy, for a building under construction, he’d taken the option to cover “sinks, wash basins and splash backs”; and paid the additional premium. He was claiming under this section.
I pointed out, that he had dropped his hammer, into a bath, that he was fitting into the bathroom, and cracked it and asked “how or where does this endorsement cover this?”
He told me that it was a wash basin. I said ‘it’s a bathtub” and he replied ” yes but it is a big wash basin, you fill it up with water, get in it and wash!” Pretty logical when you think about it.
I looked at this bloke closely. He was quite sincere, wasn’t trying to shaft me, and honestly believed he had a claim. I told him as kindly as I could that he didn’t have a claim.
He looked pretty down, don’t forget 30 quid was more than 2 weeks pay on the basic; and I told him. “Hold on a few minutes, take a seat, I’ll be back!
Taking the claim form I walked on past the rechabite’s office, to the directors office, knocked, walked in sat down, Mr. Bucknell’s office was always open to me. and gave him the claim, didn’t say a thing.
He read it said “what’s the problem, there’s no clam?” I told him there was no problem, then told him of my conversation, and my observations of the client. Mr Bucknell said “it’s a good story” I agreed, and added “especially as the bloke is not trying us on”. He asked me what I wanted to do.
I told him I wanted to pay the claim, and not as an ex gratia, but as a dinkum claim. I knew what his response would be, that’s why I bypassed the other bloke. “Yes” says he it’s a good story “go pay the man”. One very happy customer, he now knew that he wasn’t covered, yet he’d been paid in full.
However, this did leave me with a big problem. I was now stuck with a bathtub that was no good whatsoever, and had no hope of selling it off. Salvage value, Nowt! I suggested that he might like to keep it and grow plants in it.
He was an honest man, not like Eddie, and he later insured his house, contents, and car with us.
The second claim that I’m going to ramble on about, needs a bit of an introduction of sorts.
When I first joined Harvey Trinders, one of the ” No, No’s ” that was thrown at me by what’s his name, concerned one of Melbourne’s major breweries of the time, and the premier Australian baronet, actually he was the only baronet, who’s baronetcy was originally awarded to an Australian, as this bloke was the 3rd the original must have been his grandpa and it was Queen Victoria slipped it to him back in the 1870’s.
My one inherited his baronetcy at the tender age of 7, back in the 1920’s. Sir Rupert Clarke Bt.; Sir Rupert married the daughter, and heiress to the bloke that owned the Richmond Brewery, which was a damned fine brew, which didn’t last long. It got gobbled up by Carlton and United in 1962.
Both the brewery and Sir Rupert’s insurance business was placed with Lloyds through you know who.
Now Sir Rupert was a particularly smart sort of bloke, back in 1951, he and Lady Clarke, heiress went to Texas USA, to the King Ranch, there to meet the bloke that started up the Santa Gertrudis breed of cattle. He had a cattle station up in Queensland and thought that this new breed would be a good thing.
He got into it, changed the name of his cattle station to King Ranch, Darling Downs; and started running Santa Gertrudis, he also ran pigs, and produced great bacon. He sold out in the 90’s for something over $100 million. Told you he was a smart man, well bloke!
Apparently he liked to answer the telephone, and this is where the “No, No” came in. I was told that, if ever the need arose, where I had/needed to ring Sir Rupert’s office, I was to hang up immediately if he answered. I was only to speak, if the phone was answered by Sir Rupert’s secretary. I enquired why; and was told that Sir Rupert only like to speak to those in charge; or some such nonsense.
I never had the need to ring, sad to say; I would not have hung up, I’d have spoken up as usual.
Why would Sir Rupert answer the phone if he only liked to speak to the boss? Rubbish, the nephew of the Chief Justice wanted the privilege of discussing, whatever needed to be discussed, with the baronet! Then again he probably thought my Cockney accent might not have gone down to well with an ex-Etonian and Oxford scholar.
And that’s the end of the introduction I mentioned.
One afternoon Kjell sidled up to my desk and quietly said, ‘I think this is one you’d better take over”; ‘”What’s the problem?” says I, ‘This bloke at the counter just came in to report that he killed a guy” Kjell used Americanisms; having done his flight training in the US of A, he had fallen into their bad ways; “and he smells like a brewery!”
Up I go to the counter: G’day”: says I (I’d got into the lazy Aussie ways) “had a bit of an accident have we?”
He did smell a bit like a brewery, the Richmond kind, which wasn’t at all surprising, he was their number one sales rep, so I went over the claim form with him. This was a ‘Compulsory Third Party ” claim, and I’m not going to digress again, been too much of that already.
Seems this old bloke, stepped off the pavement/footpath, without bothering to check, and got himself killed.
How many drinks had our rep had? ” Who knows? who count’s in my job? ” says he, fair enough, he’d put down between 20 and 30; he couldn’t be sure could have been more. And he was as sober as a judge. There was no doubt in my mind as to that; ” What are the police doing? ” I ask, ”They put me through the usual test” “No problems, but they still might have a go at me, as I killed the silly bugger!”
“You got a solicitor, or do you need the name of a good one? ” ” I’ll go see R. J Dunn; “; R J Dunn and Co were, without doubt, the best at that time, for non criminal cases,, I advised him that there wouldn’t be any problems, but I’d still have to appoint Loss Assessors, to satisfy London, in case there were relative or dependants that suddenly appeared and lodged a claim for big quids. He told me that the bloke didn’t have any, doesn’t matter I tell him I’m sending Topliss and Harding around to see you.
If you were a crook, and disposed of someone, didn’t want to meet the hangman and his rope (the Yanks used a noose we used rope, big difference) at Pentridge; then Frank Galbally was the man. In those days, capital punishment was still on the books in Victoria, and Frank was the best criminal lawyer that Australia ever had.
After the Richmond Brewery bloke left; I tidied up the paper work, put an estimate of £3000/0/0 on the claim, with a fatal that could result in a payout we were required to notify Lloyds straight away, which was reasonable, then went about what ever I was doing before, and kind of forgot about it.
Until I was summoned to his presence; “What’s going on? Why have you instructed Topliss’s? Why an estimated payout?”, Seems I’d raised his hackles. Good! “It appears that our clients rep knocked a bloke over and killed him!” I advise him “in which case we could be up for a large payout!”
“The man was drunk for God’s sake, he admits to having 30 beers”, “He wasn’t drunk” says I, “He was doing his job. His job requires him to drink, and he doesn’t get drunk and that’s why he does the job!” He looked at me like I was a maniac, ” 30, 40 a day; just a normal days work for him what he gets paid to do”
“The Police will charge him, and he’ll be convicted!” ” They might and he wont!” ” He’s instructing Mr. R J Hunt” “Who’s he”, “The best solicitor for the job, there wont be a conviction, and we will be up for whatever costs involved, we might be lucky and just have the funeral and burial to pay for”., and I departed his presence.
Thought I might leave him something to cheer him up. He never rang Sir Rupert to complain about his drunken rep; I wonder why?
That lot above went on longer than I wanted and thought it would; I’ll press on regardless, as I want to finish up on this ramble, and get on to something more entertaining if that’s possible. That doesn’t sound right, have to come back and give it a rethink.
As I mentioned in the first rant, in this never ending ramble, Mr. Latham was a fellow of the Insurance Institute, and set great store by it. I’d never been interested , couldn’t see the point; come to that I still don’t. But that didn’t deter him, and, once again I was summoned to his presence, I did at times wonder what he did behind his closed door.
“The Institute lectures and exams are commencing shortly” he advises me. I look and wait, say nothing. “We think perhaps you should sign up and go along”; he never said who the we was, think he was using the ‘Royal’ ‘we’, and passed over a heap of forms. He’d obviously been planning to get me stuck with these lectures, and exams, and had got the forms to pressure me.
I told him I’d have a look at the forms and give it some thought.
Looking over the forms I thought why not, it’ll get him off my back and shut him up for a while. So I completed the forms, and signed up to do every examination possible. I can’t remember how many were involved, I wasn’t particularly interested and just wanted to get it over and done with.
After filling them in I took them back into him, if he thought it was okay to go get them, push them onto me, then it was only fair that he submit them to whoever was running the show.
Of course he scrutinized the forms. “You can’t do this” says he “What can’t I do?” says me; “You can’t do the whole lot in one year, it takes at least four”, says he. “I’ll have a go, do it in one, get it out of the way, there’s nothing that says I can’t”.
I wandered back to my desk, wondering how long it must have taken him to do the associate exams, then the fellowship. Then forgot about the whole damned thing for a few weeks; when I received a letter from the institute, with a date and time for all the lectures I’d need to attend. Must admit I couldn’t stop grinning, even now I’m having a bit of a chuckle at that memory.
I’ve never been one to take notes, I did write a couple of blogs/posts way back must have been in 2012 or 13 on the subject of notes, and my abhorrence of notes. With the notification of lectures schedules, was a list of what I needed to take to them, to take notes.
Of course I complied, I bought me a note book, just the one!
My day and time of first evening lecture arrived, and I arrived promptly, hate being late; and I bumped into an old chum from my days at the Royal, I think I bored you with the Royal sometime back; Clarrie Jones. I liked Clarrie, he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the block, I suppose he was more of the meat tenderizer tool, you know the thing, some use them to wallop a tough bit of steak, softens it up.
I’ll never forget Clarrie, way back in 1951 we started around the same time, in the same department, but he, being a couple of years older, missed out on the menial stuff I did. One pay day, (we were paid fortnightly) he came to me and said “You’re a man of the world, will you run next door to the chemist and buy me some ‘Checkers’ ” and handed me a five pound note.
“Okay” says me, I’m a junior ‘clerk’ aged 16, and it wasn’t unusual for a senior bloke to get a junior to run a message for them, so I off trot to the chemist/pharmacy.
Into the chemist I go, a bloke came up and asked if he could help and I say “Yes, I’d like some Checkers please”; I’m a very polite 16 year old as you may have gathered. “Would you like a 3 pack of a 24 pack?” he asked me, curiously, eyebrows raised. Having no idea, Clarrie hadn’t specified how big a pack.
I held up the £5 and he said “24?”, obviously I had enough money, and as I’d been given enough I said “Yes please” ” he then said ‘ You must be a horse!” having no idea what he meant, thinking it was some sort of Australian joke, I went along with him and said, ” No they’re for my horse”, he had a laugh and gave me the packet and I went back to the office.
“Hey Clarrie here’s the Checkers you wanted” I call out, a stunned silence.
Clarrie had sent me to the chemist to buy condoms!
Back to the lecture, Clarrie and I sat together at the very back of the room: I never liked sitting at the front of a class; and some bloke, probably one of the rechabite’s chums, got up and gave the lecture. All the time Clarrie beside me moaning and groaning taking copious notes writing feverishly.
At the finish when we were walking out Clarrie said to me ‘”this is so hard how are we expected to learn all this stuff?” I turned to him and said “that bloke doesn’t know what he’s talking about I wont be coming back for any more of his lectures and waste my time”. I tossed my notebook.
I suppose I could have given it to my mate, he was going to need plenty, couldn’t go for a beer. They were the good ol’ days of 6 o’clock closing caught a tram and went home.
Some weeks, or months later, I received another letter from the institute, advising me of the dates, and times, for all the examinations I was to sit and the venue. They were to be held at/in, the Olympic Swimming Pool, built for the 1956 Olympic Games.
Looks like I’ll be missing for a while, and somebody will have to do my work, so I knock and enter Mr. Lathams office, advise him that I’d received notification of the exams, and I’d be missing for quite a while as I was doing the lot.
He looked at me dumbfounded. “Why are you going to do these exams?” what a ridiculous question, “Well I’ve paid for them, I might as well go get my monies worth!” “You’re wasting your time” says he, “you only attended one lecture and now you want to go do the examinations!”
Now I was dumbfounded, and damned well annoyed, this bloke had had the temerity to check up on what I was doing, then have his mates report back. Ropeable but holding back, I felt inclined to jump his desk and pummel him; I told him “I’m doing the exams, you’ll have to do some work!”and walked out.
I went along and did the exams, I actually quite enjoyed it, that swimming pool was amazing, a false floor was placed across the pool and there was probably a couple of hundred small desk/chair combos. I never got to see Clarrie, he was only down for the one test and he probably was taking a sickie.
I can’t recall how many exams I took, might have been seven of eight, could have been more, might have been less, I just did all of them to complete the associate bit! I wanted to do them, and get back to work.
Several weeks passed and I was called into his office, he held an envelope in both hands staring at it then me, saying nothing. I said nothing.
After an uneasy silence he spoke, “This is from the Institute (said in a reverential voice), your examination results”; I just stood there looking down at him. “Don’t you want to know the results?”, “Not particularly!”
“How about I open and read them” he asks; can you imagine? The gall of the man; “Go ahead” I tell him. As he opens the envelope he’s gloating and enjoying himself, convinced that he was going to give me ‘bad’ news, telling me ” you wont have passed anything, you didn’t attend any lectures!” I just stood there watching this person.
He read the letter, said nothing didn’t look at me, read it again, shook his head looked up and said, in a very quiet but not reverential tone,.’ You’ve passed the lot!” “Okay” say’s me, “can I go back and do some real work now”, turned and walked out of his office didn’t say another word.
Seems that I’d been successful,done and passed all the exams, and was now an associate of the Insurance Institute. Must admit I wasn’t particularly thrilled, never bothered to collect my bit of paper to hang on the wall. I thought it was enough that I knew what I was doing so why advertise. Never liked adverts.
A few weeks later I received another letter marked “private and confidential”, I’m not particularly fond of letters that have that on them, I see that and think “trouble’, however, it’s from an Insurance company, that I’d never heard of, in Brisbane. Curious I opened and had a read.
It was an offer of a job as their “Claims Manager”, and the details included a nice salary; I had no idea where or how they’d heard of me, Stan Shaw couldn’t have connections that far away, but it gave me something to think about.
I really did enjoy what I was doing at Harvey Trinders, there was only one problem, I was ‘Assistant Claims Manager” to a “Claims Manager” who I could barely talk to, I had a Director who I admired greatly, and a staff of willing workers who were good to work with; but!
There was no hope of Mr Latham ever leaving Trinders, and Mr. Bucknell would never fire him, so time to bite the bullet. I took up the offer from Brisbane, resigned from Trinders and headed north with wife and daughter, my daughter actually was left with my parents until I got a place to live and settled, then I flew down and brought her up to Brisbane.
To bung in an aside; the only photograph I have of me, at this time of my life, was taken around this time holding my daughter Claire, I’ll see if I can find it and insert it once I’ve finished this long, drawn out slog, no that’s not a typo!
We were met at the airport by the company secretary, and taken in his Wolesley Saloon, to dinner, and there he gave me the “good news”, the claims manager that was, was not leaving after all, he was the son of the manager for Queensland, and the position he was supposed to be taking at another company had fallen through so his father had told him he could keep his job with the company.
Not all insurers are/were as honourable as Lloyds, and their brokers.
However, there’s always an ‘however’; they did need a qualified man to handle their ‘Re-insurance Portfolio” would still apply. What could I do? Turfed in a job hundreds of miles, away come to a state that I knew nothing about and stranded, sort of.
I’d never had anything to do with Re-insurance but I gave it a go, must admit it was the most boring time of my life in insurance. I could ramble on about my time in Brisbane but I’ll give it a miss.
Bored stiff, I chucked the job went home told the wife lets pack we’re going back to Melbourne, the marriage was pretty strained by this time, had been for a while, but I wont go into that now either.
We flew back to Melbourne, aboard a TAA L188A Electra; my first flight in one of these aircraft, little did I know then that it was to be the first of many.. Thought I break this long drawn out ramble with a suitable picture
The wife, daughter and I, moved in with my parents, and sister, until I found a place for us to live; one of the first things I had to do too, was get a job, the bank had been taking a belting.
Get a job? Ring Stan, what else.
“Good Day, Stan, I’m back!” no messing about with him, “You looking for a job? There’s a job going at CGU, you can have it, if you want it, they need a claims manager, pays good £3600.” As I said, no messing about with Stan straight to the point.
”How long have I got Stan?” ‘Take your time, they’ve been looking for a while now for the right guy, I’ll have a word in their shell like”, ‘Thanks Stan I’ll get back to you soon as I’m sorted”; or words to that effect, didn’t have that expression back then, mores the pity.
Having that to fall back on I bought ‘The Age’, and went through the jobs section, plenty of work going, no rush, then an ad caught my eye. “Traffic Officer” required Ansett ANA, “hello what on earth is a ‘Traffic Officer’, curiosity got the better of me.
I rang Ansett ANA at Melbourne Airport, and spoke to a Mr, Butler, “Why don’t you come to the airport to discuss this” he asks; he wants to have a look at me, to see how I scrub up obviously.,
“Fine” says I “when will it be convenient?” ‘Come out now if you wish, there’s a tram in Elizabeth Street,comes straight to our terminal” “Righto , I’ll be there as soon as I can”, and off I went, having absolutely no idea where I was going, or what I was doing and having a good time doing it! Well I knew I was going to the airport!
Of course I was suitably dressed, suit and tie, titfer and umbrella, well I was in Melbourne. I had a thing about ties. loved wearing them and had I don’t know how many; I’d wear one at home even if I had no intention of going out. Last time I wore one was 3rd July 2008 at the Lincoln Center (there spelling not mine). when I went to the Independence day concert. Got pictures of that too.
Had a nice chat with this Mr Bob Butler, a nice, chubby, rotund little man and he told me about the job, what it entailed and then the pay I could get. The base rate for a Trainee/Junior Traffic Officer was £19/5/5 per week, but with shift and overtime penalty rates, I could expect to earn at least £27 or £28 per week. I also was told of the perks that came with the job like cheap air travel.
Hmm, Stan’s job was 300 quid a month, three times the amount; something I’d need to think about.
We shook hands and I said thank you, and asked when would I know if I had the job, I was told there were a few more applicants, and he’d ring me. I apologized said I was recently back from Brisbane, and was not on the phone yet. He told me that’s fine “I’ll send you a telegram”. The good old days.
I went off back to the city plenty to think about and I knew I’d have to do something quickly. I returned home and the wife said there’s a telegram for you, that’s quick, methinks only left the bloke a couple of hours ago, anyway opened the telegram and there was the message to say, I had got the job, and to call Mr Butler to arrange a start date saspo .
Now I had the dilemma; I had the job at CGU with £3600, per annum, courtesy of Stan Shaw; or a job in the airline at £19/5/5 per week (how can I ever forget that) base, could be up to £27 or £28 etc.
I called Mr Butler, and said I’d be delighted to come work for him; closed the book completely on the insurance world, never rang Stan to say what I was doing, just shut that part of my life down completely, and moved on.
I met Mr Bucknell some three or four years later at the airport, he was flying off somewhere, He spoke to me and I can never forget what he said.
“Why did you leave me Brian?” note the me bit, always me, ” I really can’t recall Mr Bucknell” I replied. I wasn’t about to go into the rechabite.
“You would have been the Director now!”, was all he said, he turned and walked off without a goodbye.
A bit later as I was musing over the meeting it occurred to me, that had I have stayed, I would have been the Director, I could have either fired Mr Latham, or given him the chance to resign, I’d have given him a written reference, I’d had experience at that. It was an amusing thought, which quickly passed.
Mr Bucknell’s son was not the least interested in Insurance so I suppose that’s why he had me lined up. Pity he never told me; but I’m glad that he didn’t.
In case anyone was wondering, the sales rep from Richmond Brewery was cleared, no charges brought against him; my estimate of £3000 was a bit over, the total loss was under two and a half thousand pounds.
I learned a few months back that Mr Latham was eventually “let go” by Trinders, but it was some years after my leaving.