Bruce Lawson's personal site

Wines and Whines

The Wine

On an uncharacteristically balmy April evening, my misanthropic pal Bill
(an indexer by trade, possibly the only one to have been praised in a
review of a book he indexed) and his charming and hitanthropic wife Rebecca came round for dinner. Not only did they come round for dinner, but they also cooked and brought round said food, and several bottles of delightful wine that was wasted on an oik like me. Bill is a wine buff and feels I need educating; I only ever buy wine of a value more than £5 if it’s reduced in Safeways to £3 because I find the tradeoff between quality and quantity an easy one to make. So, we had:

To my surprise, my favourite was the sweet wine – maybe because it was alfresco dining on a warm night. Most excellent vintages, most excellent friends, most unwelcome hangover.

The Whine

As you’ll know if you’ve ever received a page not found error message on this site (and that’s not very likely, in a meticulously organised operation like this, is it? ahem), I dislike life insurance companies. But today I’m going public with my anger at the buggers. My Multiple Sclerosis was diagnosed in 1999, but probably began in 1995 when I was 29 years old. It is episodic, the main symptom was optic neuritis, and I have no lesions in the brain, only two at the top of the spine. Medical opinion is therefore that, not only am I very unlikely to die from MS, but I’m actually going to be pretty well off considering other people with more vicious forms of the disease: "about 10% of MS patients will suffer … from no more than moderate disablement with few repercussions on their social and professional life. These are patients in who MS began when they were 20 to 30 years’ old and evolved by Episodes rather than Progressively and whose main symptoms are Optic Neuritis and Sensory Disorders without Pyramidal or Cerebellar Deficit. " (also: "most people with MS have a normal life expectancy" – National
Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
, "people have a normal life expectancy" – University
of Nebraska Medical Center
.)

So why the fuck do life insurance companies load my remiums?!?!?!?!
The latest life insurance company to do so is Scottish Widows, who have told me that their underwriters are likely to add 50% to 75% onto my premiums. Now, I’m not so stupid as to want to be insured against disability through MS – all I want is that, should I die in the next 22 years, my mortgage is paid off and Nongyaw and the kids have a small income. Statistically, I’m no more likely to die before I’m 59 than any other smoker. In addition, they demand Nongyaw be tested for HIV and Hepatitis, due to the fact that she’s Thai so must have been a prostitute, and also they need evidence that we are who we say we are due to anti-money laundering legislation.

WHAT? Can you imagine some Al-Quaida operative attempting to launder money by taking out life insurance with Scottish Widows? If they load my premium because of benign MS, what are they going to do to his when they see "occupation: suicide bomber" on the application form?

(Last Updated on )

Buy "Calling For The Moon", my debut album of songs I wrote while living in Thailand, India, Turkey. (Only £2, on Bandcamp.)

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