Trafalgar Studios have a run of “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg” a play by the late Peter Nichols. Like many of his plays, this is drawn from personal experience. The play considers the how a family copes with disability. Written in 1967 it is now located with a 50-year timeline. The convenient political distance of the 1960s has much that will encourage an audience about the improvements in both medical and support services over the last 50 years, not least of which is the language used.

The very first lines of the play are somewhat discomforting. Bri (Toby Stephens) addresses his classroom of pupils, who are clearly at the end of their lesson and he at the end of his tether, all eager to leave the confines of the classroom. His directions to the imaginary school children confuse the audience, many of whom respond to his instructions to place their hands on their heads in silence. We immediately enter a world that isn’t quite as expected. The line between what is real (a lecture or talk about disability) and what is not (the play) is blurred.


The play itself could be a metaphor for uncomfortable truths that families do not wish to discuss, as outlined in the show notes. Set originally in not that post-war Britain, a determined modernist approach to life of keep calm and carry on. This discomforting truth is the severely impaired daughter Josephine (Storme Toolis) that Sheila (Claire Skinner) and Bri have had together.  It is the run up to Christmas, they relate their tale of how as new parents they were treated by the twin authorities of the day – medicine and religion. Both failing spectacularly to address the underlying questions or providing an appropriate human response.

Production photography by Marc Brenner

Production photography by Marc Brenner


Beliefs underpin much of this Christmas story.  Bri is unable to cope with the constant care-giving that Joe requires, yet in truth he is able to escape to his classroom most days of the week, leaving Sheila to manage the care. Bri uses comedic dark humour to form conversation between the three of them, which Shelia indulges as part of helping him cope with the situation. Bri, clearly a product of his mother Grace (Patrica Hodge) is often lamenting what might have been. Similarly, Sheila blames herself, her own “promiscuity” and holding back during the lengthy labour that lead her to believe she is responsible to Jo’s condition.

Discussion about Joe is sometimes deeply empathic, at others very cold and theoretical, viewing her or anyone with disability as a “problem”. For some such problems are placed where they cannot be seen, some eradicated, some front and centre. On this advent evening, Joe is all three. The child seen only for the first time, by friends, (Freddie and Pam) the “prop-like” presence front of stage and the tender protective embrace of her parents. Freddie and Pam barely disguise their own discomfort at confronting the reality of living with disability.

Our own discomfort at listening to the conversations is heightened by the knowledge that these conversations are normally deeply private, perhaps never spoken, yet here they are enacted before and with an actor with a disability (Storme Toolis) the first to actually play the role in 50 years. Bad taste jokes that hang in the air like the sword of Damocles.


This inability with disability is something that a family have to adjust to. Yet I was mindful that disability is obviously not exclusively something that someone is born with. Any of us can become “disabled” in a moment.  There are of course degrees of ability and its loss. Managing expectations and coping with the practicalities is often challenging.

I was reminded of three groups of clients. Those that have children or family members with disabilities of varying degrees, who can tell of the difficulties in obtaining support. Then those that have become so, largely though stroke or accident. Then there are those that work with the severely impaired. One has spent the majority of her life living and working in a L’Arche community. They all have a fascinating story, as do those around them.

Most of us wouldn’t generally expect to become disabled, yet in many respects the loss of ability is a simple by-product of the aging process. We might be unfortunate to suffer a life changing sudden loss, such as a stroke, for which insurance can go some way to help alleviate the practical challenges, but inevitably not the loss of function.

This is a very thoughtful, provocative play, one of its era but with validity for today. Our cultural impetus to remove the uncomfortable out of sight is confronted with poignant truths that pose challenges and touch an empathy that is often just as hidden.


The play is shown at Trafalgar Studios until the end of November 2019. You can get tickets here.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email


Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – 
Call – 020 8542 8084


Are we a good fit for you?


Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email –    Call – 020 8542 8084


Are we a good fit for you?

JOE EGG – LIFE, DEATH AND DISABILITY2023-12-01T12:17:11+00:00

Do You Need Financial Protection?

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-bloggerDo You Need Financial Protection?

A question I’m often asked is do I need financial protection? frankly this is rarely the question… most people are really asking if insurance is worthwhile. Given the scandal of PPI, and a general mistrust of financial services, it is little wonder. Add in the reality that there is a general assumption that such contracts are designed to favour the insurer and the lawyer involved, many question whether the insurers would ever pay out.LifeHappens

OK, there is little I am going to be able to say to convince anyone that is suspicious about “the system”. All I can do is point you to data about claims paid and also relate my own experience. In all the years I have been advising clients, I have unfortunately had a number of claims. All of them were accepted, only one was not paid out at the full amount (they paid 73% citing non-disclosure of material health matters). We are currently considering whether to contest this or not, I can see both sides of the argument – but obviously represent my client, so will represent his interests.

In essence there are really only three types of financial protection I deal with for individuals. So let’s cover what these are.

1. Life assurance – you die, it pays out. Price is everything, there is pretty much nothing between providers on terms and conditions, however there are a myriad of types of life assurance policy and enormous differences in cost.

2. Critical Illness Cover – this is much more contentious. Terms and conditions are everything, quality is upmost, price is secondary – you pay for what you get. However cost still varies enormously. This cover pays out if you are diagnosed with a serious medical condition – it pays you. The main conditions are cancer, heart attack and stroke….all stuff that most of us would prefer not to think about, but probably know several people (depending on your age) that have experienced this.

3. Income Protection – this  pays your income if you cannot work due to incapacity and an inability to return to work. Generally cover would pay until you are better and can return to work, or until the policy maturity date (invariably your retirement date). It isn’t so contentious, these days a lot of employers provide cover. Certainly terms are important – most basic being does it pay out if you cannot do your job or any job or any job for which you are suitably skilled/able.  Cover is always less than your total income, as this provides an incentive for the claimant to “make a recovery” and also reduces fraud. Cost varies considerably. Generally cover is a percentage of income, up to a maximum and starts typically after 3, 6 or 12 months of “being unwell”… the longer this “deferred” period, the cheaper the cover. This isn’t accurate… but gives you an idea.

Which job would you prefer?

Job A: £60,000 per annum

Job B: £59,500 per annum plus £38,675 per annum until 65 if you have a long term illness.

As I say, its not accurate, lots of if’s but’s and maybe’s…. but hopefully I am conveying the concept.

So how much cover do you need?

That depends entirely on your circumstances, the cost of your lifestyle, your age and your level of debt and if you have anyone that is relying on you. It is generally true that the more you need cover, the less you can afford it… think of a young family who have a tight budget…precisely because they have a tight budget they need cover. Some people don’t need any cover (because they have ample resources). In essence they are self-insuring, however some of these people would prefer to pay for insurance so that they pass the risk to the insurer rather than bear it themselves, so using funds for other, more enjoyable purposes.

Reviewing Cover

So you have a load of old policies. You have some cover. Sometimes it isn’t a good idea to change the cover –  the policies where terms and conditions matter generally are weaker and more vague these days than they once were. However some can be reviewed. Don’t forget on the whole your debt should be reducing and you and your family, if you have one are older, less dependent.

FT FAAwards2015

Financial Times (FT) Financial Adviser Awards 2015

Yesterday I attended the FT Financial Adviser Awards – having been nominated for “Protection Adviser of the Year”. I’m pleased to say that it was a podium finish (2nd)… which isn’t bad (the winner is a thoroughly good adviser that I respect – genuine congratulations). Of course I would have preferred to win – but hey, out of 24,000 advisers in the UK… I, like Nico Rosberg need to keep improving. However I don’t really know the exact reason why I came second (unlike F1 there isn’t a final lap chequered flag. I assume it cannot be based on the amount of protection business I arranged over the last year (consider the big networks of advisers or Bank employees), so I presume it is the quality of the advice process, perhaps also because I have always removed commission from protection policies (reducing the cost for clients) which is still unusual and not a regulatory requirement of “adviser charging rules”. Perhaps it was the case study, business model or interview that revealed the quality rather than the quantity of our protection advice. At this stage I don’t know, but what I do know is that if you find yourself in a nightmare scenario – the inability to earn, or life threatening illness or worse – suddenly bereaved, having cover in place that removes financial stress makes all the difference in the world. Because sometimes in life stuff happens that we don’t like.

Dominic Thomas


Do You Need Financial Protection?2023-12-01T12:40:06+00:00
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