Sunday, May 13, 2007

Insurance Morning

“Wait a minute,” I asked Gordon Gorrie during a telephone call. “What’s that phrase you just used?”

“Insurance Morning?” he replied. “Didn’t you have that here?”

Never heard it before. What’s it mean?

Growing up in Glasgow, Gordon could tell me. Glasgow was the industrial heart of Scotland and it boomed after World War II, with one of the largest concentrations of shipbuilding, heavy manufacturing and textiles in Europe (including Albion Motor Works, above left).

Friday was payday for all the factory workers – and they were paid in cash.

When they got home from work, the first person likely to knock on their doors was…the insurance agent. All over Scotland, the insurance agents would go round to all the Council houses and collect their policyholders’ premiums. Every Friday, a little bit of the worker’s pay packet went to pay for his life insurance.

“We had a kind of migration, where the original concept of a death benefit got wrapped up with the idea of a whole life savings scheme, where the individual was expected to invest a set amount each month throughout their working life. This was encouraged by the government, which saw advantages in people relying upon their own initiatives rather than falling back on State aid,” according to Michael Neale, an associate partner at Accenture in Scotland. (Count on an Accenture guy to make a fun story boring.)

Anyway, the insurance agents would work through every Friday afternoon and late into the evening, seeing their policyholders and getting their premiums. Every Friday morning, before they went off to collect premiums, golf courses throughout Scotland filled up.

Insurance Morning was when all the agents played golf.

Interior of the Albion Works in Scotstoun, 1955, Partick Camera Club, City of Glasgow, with thanks. And to Wood Group’s Gordon Gorrie for ensuring that a fine regional phrase isn’t lost to history.


Fraser said...

Hi, I'm a Scot lived 30 miles away from Glasgow most of my life and I don't know the expression but certainly familiar with the tradition you've expressed. There's another expression used in a "Deacon Blue" song called Wages Day, which again was a Friday.
The trend of agents collecting premiums has but all died out now except in very low demographic areas. I guess the spirit in which you were talking was relating to "paying yourself first". Nice to learn something :)

Richard Laurence Baron said...

"Wages Day" is great, Fraser. Thanks for it. Let's see who else chimes in on this, because it's too easy to lose colloquialisms in the age of instant global communications.

Geoff Webb said...

You know, I never had heard that before. It sounds uniquely Scottish to me. (Especially as it involves golf.) You can start at any location in the UK and by traveling twenty miles discover a new set of idioms that you’ve never heard before. I remember having a taxi ride across Glasgow in which I understood not one word that the very nice taxi driver used. I’d have done better if I was in the middle of Paris or Frankfurt. Just amazing.

Mark Cronin said...

Richard: I remember this. It was a time when many services conducted their business on a door-to-door basis. A butcher's van came round, a fish van, your milk was delivered (daily) to your door early in the morning. The coal-man delivered to your coal bunker. Someone also came round to collect your 'coupon' which was a lottery type game based on predicting football scores.

Interestingly, most retail closed on a Wednesday afternoon and the golf courses were full of butchers, bakers, candlestickmakers etc. Aah the nostalgia.