Dear dear Agony actuary...
I find myself in something of a predicament because I understand that the Regulation Standards Board has released a new standard called "APS X2", which requires me to have my work peer reviewed.
The problem I face is that I am not sure which of my colleagues I trust with reviewing my work. I attach a list of my staff, together with a thumbnail sketch of each. I would appreciate your thoughts. Also, what do you think, is £140 per policy about right?
Name and address supplied
Thank you for your letter. Now, I hope your closing question - "What do you think, is £140 per policy about right?" - is not a devious way of getting me to carry out your peer review for you. I have absolutely no way of telling whether this is the right price - I know nothing about your line of business.
Mind you, based upon your character sketches, I appear to know only a little less than many of your colleagues. For example, I can immediately rule out Wiggins, Maltravers and 'Dogface' as being appropriate peer reviewers. Wiggins' fondness for absinthe appears to render him unsuitable. And while your review need not be carried out by an actuary, I don't think Maltravers would be suitable as, from your brief description of him, he appears to be the man who mends the photocopier.
'Dogface' is unsuitable because he appears to be a figment of your fevered imagination.
Turning to Michael Spoonbender, would I be correct in deducing from your description of him as "a feckless young shaver" together with your description of what you term your "diverse acts of bravery and derring-do during the Crimean War" that there is something of an age gap between the two of you? In which case, you will have to consider whether Spoonbender is in a position to offer a meaningful challenge to you. Would he not be slightly intimidated in challenging the work of someone who is not only 150 years his senior but who also possesses such prowess with a bayonet?
Concerning Doris Francesca Wobblegoose, I would discount her as a peer review option simply on the basis that she died in 1942. It is of the essence that actuarial peer review must be done "hot", at a time when it is able to influence the outcome of the work involved. And I would advise against waiting until such time as cryogenics had advanced to the point where Ms Wobblegoose was in a fit state to carry out the work.
In fact, having looked through your 19 pages of analysis, diagrams, confused ramblings and sundry erotic sketches, I have concluded that none of your colleagues is in a position to peer review your work.
But this should not cause you to despair, as there are other options. First, you could resign from the actuarial profession and absolve yourself of the formal requirement for peer review. Although I would caution against this. Membership of the profession is a highly sought-after achievement as we are an extremely prestigious organisation with extraordinarily high levels of intellect. The concept of net present value is one that only actuaries, a handful of Nobel Prize winning economists and Professor Yaffle from Bagpuss have the mental capacity to fully grasp.
Perhaps the best advice I can offer is that you might look outside your organisation for your peer reviewer.
Have you built up a professional network over the years? In one of your appendices you describe your time with 'Ye Venerational Dining Company of Ye Actuaries' in this way: "In the company of such luminaries as Cyril "Legs" Eggnog and Percival Cornelius Clutterbuck I have spent many a glorious evening eating with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. I like nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart and liver slices with crustcrumbs. Most of all, I like grilled mutton kidneys which give to my palate the full flavour of a heated Staple Inn debate."
Might Messrs Eggnog and Clutterbuck be pressed into APS X2 action?
Do let me know how you get on.