Cheap life insurance, term and whole life policies cannot be compared on a price basis although one is more affordable.

I sold thousands of life insurance policies during my time in the industry but it is the times when I didn't make a sale or didn't even get to the appointment that stand out in my memory. One afternoon I received a phone call from a referral who wanted to buy some cheap life insurance. It wasn't the most profitable of policies but it was a guaranteed sale and so I pencilled him into my diary.

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All of Mike's appointments had cancelled for the evening so he decided to accompany me up to Cuckfield where my potential client lived. It was teeming down with rain when we got to Cuckfield and although the village was small and despite driving around in circles, we could not find the address. Eventually we wandered into a deserted public house to ask directions.

We were standing at the unmanned bar when a gentlemen dressed in city finery; bowler hat, gold horn rimmed spectacle perched on his nose, striped dark grey waistcoat and matching trousers, black jacket and overcoat with velvet collar and tightly rolled umbrella entered the pub. He epitomised all the elegance of a successful stock broker and hanging his umbrella on the brass bar rail and removing his coat and folding it neatly over the back of a chair, he turned and look us up and down and said. "Evening gents." The barman entered as we replied in unison. "Evening" and turned to the barman as he asked us for our order.

"Actually we are looking for Little White Gates in Cuckfield." I replied but before the barman could respond the city gent interjected. "Ah don't tell me, Little White Gates you say? You go up the high street…" He stopped and looked us up and down again. "Police?"

"No were not the police." One of us replied. "So we go up Cuckfield high street."

"It's pronounced Cookfield." He said and paused for a second before asking. "Police?"

"No, were not Police" Said Mike looking me up and down as if I was the offending person dressed like a police officer.

"Where was it you were looking for?" he asked again.

"Little White Gates." I answered as the barman disappeared out the back obviously not wanting to get involved.

"OK. You go up the high street …… Police?" he enquired, obviously intent on getting a confession out of us.

"No were not the police." I said. "So we go up Cookfield high street…" But before I could finish he interrupted me.

"It's pronounced Cuckfield." The gent said impatiently. "Police?" He asked us again obviously not believing or not absorbing our replies which was strange because most people recognised us as life insurance salesmen from fifty paces.

"No were not the Police and you just said it was pronounced Cookfield." Said Mike, getting irritated.

"I'm not going to argue with you" He replied. "Police?" And he leaned forward so that our noses almost touched.

"No - MI6." I said facetiously.

"Thought so, you have that look about you. "Where you looking for?" He asked again as Mike and I both realised we had got ourselves into a surreal situation again.

"Little white gates." Said Mike.

"Right, you go up the high street … who you looking for?"

"Couldn't possibly say." I said. "So we go up Cuckfield high street and then where?"

It's pronounced "Cookfield." He said.

"But you just said it was pronounced Cuckfield!" Said Mike.

"I have no intention of arguing with you." He said and turned away and ordered a drink from the barman who had just come back. Mike and I stepped back outside into the rain and decided to find a police station to ask directions.


The police station turned out to be one room in a Police house on the high street. Mike parked up and we walked in to find three of the largest coppers all sitting behind one desk drinking tea.

"Look lively boys, the CID have arrived." Said one and then addressed us. "Evening Gents what can we do you for?" And all took a swig of tea in unison.

"We've got Ronnie Biggs in the boot of our car and were wondering if you had a holding cell available." Quipped Mike.

"Very funny." Replied the sergeant. "What's going on?" They all leaned forward to as if to hear that something important was going down on their beat that the didn't know about.

"We're looking for Little White Gates." I said.

They all turned their heads and gave each other knowing looks before the sergeant replied. "You looking for Charlie Watkins?"

"You know him?" I asked wondering if he was known to the police for the wrong reasons.

"Oh Charlie is very well known round these parts." He replied. "What's he done this time?"

"Nothing to our knowledge, we just wanted to talk to him about his life insurance." I said.

"Sound serious." Said one of the other police officers; obviously thinking that my reference to life insurance was some covert terminology for marking Charlie's card. "Do you want us to come with you? He's a tough customer." Added the sergeant.

"No we can manage." Said Mike. "Just tell us how to find him."

Directions duly explained and we were just leaving when the sergeant asked. "Which station you from?"

"Dock Green." I replied and we left but not without hearing on of them ask his colleagues "Where's Dock Green?"

"No wonder Ronnie Biggs is still on the run." Said Mike in the car as we drove to our appointment, not that either of us was now confident about the quality of the prospect.

Following the directions we drove down a lane and swung through some farm gates and down an unmade track, finally arriving at Little White Gates that turned out to be a Gypsy encampment. There were half a dozen caravans, as many dogs chained up and barking ferociously and two men and two women sitting on a sofa under an awning be kept warm by a fire burning in a brazier.

Mike and I surveyed the situation and I turned to Mike and said. "My bet is; if we go in on this appointment we are likely to find that when we come out you are going to need a new set of wheels." Mike nodded agreement and turning the car round headed home.


It was normal behaviour for everyone to congregate in the office of a morning and recount tales about the previous evening's events. In these situations Mike and I normally held court as most of the best stories seemed to happen to us.

The previous evening had been a total washout in every sense of the word but as usual a crowd had gathered including Irwin Ishmael the top producer in the office who was clutching a batch of life insurance proposal forms he had obviously sold the previous day.

Mike and I recounted the story word for word whilst every body laughed at our misfortune and taking pleasure in the fact that we hadn't earned any commission. Having finished Irwin, who had been listening intently said. "You guys are so lucky, I never have any adventures like that." And shaking his head, walked away to process his life insurance sales. Mike and I turned and looked at him walking away and Mike said. "He probably earned five hundred quid last night and he envies us?"

It wasn't our failure as life insurance salesmen that Irwin envied; it was the fact that we didn't stop laughing. He most likely had disastrous appointments but couldn't see the funny side of the situation; they were simply missed opportunities to make money.

We liked Irwin, he sold more life insurance policies than anyone else in the office but he was also one of the easiest people to wind up and was often the butt of many a joke or prank that Mike and I pulled. Despite that, we had the greatest respect for him as a life insurance salesman albeit that he specialised in small and cheap life insurance policies.

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