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Pass the parcel

Dear friend,

As a father of three children under the age of seven, I seem to spend an awful lot of my spare time picking my kids up from birthday parties.

These days we seem to be in more and more of a moral panic about our younger generation.

Hardly a day goes past in the UK press without a lurid story about feral youth out of control, mugging, drinking, smoking, vomiting, injecting and procreating their way around our filth-strewn streets.

I’m sure it’s the same in other developed countries around the world.

But anyone at all worried about the future moral uprightness of our youngsters would do well to spend some time at a kids’ birthday party.

Just five minutes will set your mind at ease.

Everything is as it has always been – neat rows of sandwiches on paper plates, bottles of fizzy soda, jellies, balloons, and those really annoying things that you blow into that unfurl a paper tube whilst emitting a decidedly off-key parp.

Nothing much has changed — and that goes for the party games too.

One game that doesn’t seem to go out of style is ‘pass the parcel’.

(Just in case you’ve forgotten a circle is formed and a package that has been enveloped in multiple layers of wrapping paper is passed around the group from hand to hand as music plays. Every time the music stops another layer is peeled off, a small gift is handed out to the child who was the package when the music stopped and the music starts up again. Eventually the final layer is removed to reveal what is usually the star prize.)

And it looks like the market is once again busy playing its usual version of the pass the parcel game, but in reverse of course.

In the underwriting version, risk is bundled up, wrapped up in pretty paper and passed around the market. In this game when the music stops it is a big retro writer or an exposed net player who ends up holding the ‘star prize’ which is usually something pungent and decidedly unhygienic.

Nothing ever changes, so don’t worry about the kids — worry about the big punters!


PS. I loved the news this week of Marsh resurrecting the Bowring name from the scrapheap of history.

What’s next? A new Sedgwick division?
Maybe they should go the whole hog and rebrand everything as Johnson & Higgins?

And think how many brands Aon has got lying around — Bain Clarkson, Hogg Robinson. Leslie & Godwin, LeBlanc de Nicolai, Jauch & Hubener, Alexander Howden and A&A and I haven’t mentioned my old shop yet.

The possibilities are endless!

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