The Intelligent Quarterly from the publishers of The Insurance Insider

Spring 2018

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Weekender

Mark Geoghegan

Once in these pages I likened a prolonged soft market to a house party that gets out of hand.

It starts off as a lot of fun, with everyone socialising and having a good time. The music gets turned up louder and louder and someone decides it would be amusing to fill the fruit punch with vodka.

The more experienced take this as their cue to call it a night.

Once they leave all hell breaks loose.

Some surprising new liaisons are cemented, some in full view of other guests and, notably, one in the guest bedroom under a pile of coats. Someone passes out in the basement.

Later, obnoxious gatecrashers arrive and a knife fight breaks out. A man is stabbed.

The neighbours call the police and the party ends with a raid.

Seemingly oblivious to the mayhem a couple have a screaming stand-up row in the front garden.

In the grey light of dawn the hapless host discovers that the living room carpet is covered with cigarette burns and red wine stains. Smashed ornaments and crockery are everywhere.

The hangovers are brutal and the contrition is long-lasting.

Some consequences are life-changing. The stab victim's scar is a permanent reminder of how things can go badly wrong.

Meanwhile, unnoticed by revellers and police alike, the guest who passed out has not and will never reawaken. He is dead from an unspecified overdose.

Everyone swears they are never going to drink again and a period of puritanical abstinence follows.

At least, that is how the moral story used to go.

This soft market is different. This time someone has put a new wonder drug into the cocktails. It's like rocket fuel and has kept the party going much, much longer. Miraculously, it seems to prevent both the formation of hangovers and the onset of fatigue.

The sun has come up and the rave is still on. People are dancing on the tables and chairs. Not a single person has crashed out, passed out or left for home.

There was worrying moment at 4am when the police came and banged on the door. But they were sent on their way with a combination of charm and guile. Nothing is going to stop this.

Neighbours who had complained of the noise were convinced to join the party and are exuberantly displaying the full convert's zeal. There had been some bickering but peacemakers stepped in and cooled it down just in time.

A pizza delivery has come and gone. Everyone has a full stomach and is happy. There are only smiles and an overall air of contentment reigns.

Even more curious, given the all-round excess, is an almost paradoxical sense of sobriety and rationality about the gathering. This drug makes everyone appear in control.

On the pages that follow Charlie Thomas wonders where the missing HIM billions are, but no one at this party appears to be bothered by this question. These guys are certain the numbers will either turn up and will be easily replaced, or it will transpire they have been overcooked and therefore get written down.

Either way, they think the end result is that we'll all be back on the dancefloor before long.

An online re-stocking of the liquor cabinet is on its way. The crowd is invincible. It looks like we could be in for a weekender.

Monday is a very long way away. What could possibly go wrong?

This article was published as part of issue Winter 2017

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