MAURICE HAMILTON

Statue of limitations


A controversial statue of singer Michael Jackson was unveiled by Mohamed Al Fayed at Fulham's Craven Cottage ground on Sunday with the football club chairman saying that if fans did not like it, they could go and support another team. - REUTERS

The hastily convened FIA sub-committee (Statues and Erections) was late starting due to the Ferrari representative downloading the latest remix of O mio babbino caro onto his iPod. "Puccini," he said, dreamily.

"Who's he?" asked the UK representative for truck racing. "Another of your reserve drivers? Whatever happened to that other bloke you were going on about...wosshisname...Varzi or Verdi, or something. Was he no good?"

The Ferrari man raised his eyes to the heavens. "Giuseppe Verdi," he said wearily. "One of the greatest Italian composers."

"Ha! Bet he's not as good as our Elton John," said the truck representative.

The chairman shifted uneasily in his chair. This meeting was going to be tricky.

"Okay gentlemen," he said. "Item number 1 on the agenda, raised by Mr. Ecclestone. The statue to be placed outside the gates of Silverstone. Following the move by Mr. Al Fayed, the Fulham FC chairman and the owner of Harrods, Mr. Ecclestone feels we need to show F1 is embracing culture rather than talking endlessly about drooping nose wings and KERS. We have to nominate a well known figure from the world of music.

"Mr. Ecclestone's view is that if a bunch of swearing, hairy-arsed blokes who kiss each other and burst into tears if the referee's decision goes against them can place Michael Jackson on a pedestal, then motor sport can do the same. Anyone got any thoughts?"

"How about Susan Boyle?" asked the man in the slick grey suit from McLaren.

"Not naked, surely?" spluttered the karting commission member from Denmark.

"Good grief, no!" said the McLaren man. "We're not all about mermaids in fountains, you know. We could have Ms Boyle in a neat little black number from Boss."

"Is typical McLaren," sighed the Ferrari man. "And I suppose she have a TAG watch on each wrist and she's talking on Vodafone."

The Chairman lent forward in his chair. "Gentlemen, please! Look, here's a suggestion from Niki Lauda, who says Wenzel Fuchs..."

"I beg your pardon!" exclaimed the FIA representative for Homologation and Political Correctness

"No, listen," said the chairman, "apparently he's a famous clarinet player from Innsbruck. By the way, it's spelt F-u-c-h-s...What's so funny?"

"Ah, sorry," smiled the British representative for hillclimbing. "Just reminded me of how you have to be careful with names like that.

"We had this British explorer in the 1950s called Sir Vivian Fuchs. Caused a lot of trouble, that did. We had one newspaper headline saying 'Sir Vivian Fuchs at Palace', but even worse was when another headline said 'Sir Vivian Fuchs off to Antarctica'. Boy, that didn't half cause a stir."

"Ha, ha! That's a good one," snorted the delegate from the United States. "Remember that business we had with George Michael in the toilet in Los Angeles? We could have a statue of him and title it 'Zip me up before you go go'."

"D'you mind!" said the chairman, irritably. "This is getting out of hand. You're straying from the proper purpose of the occasion."

"That's what the policeman said to George Michael!" roared the American.

"Oh this is ridiculous," groaned the chairman. "Let's quickly run through these suggestions.

"Group Lotus say they don't mind who the statue is, just so long as he's called Lotus, has some gold gilt on him and they don't have to pay for it.

"I think we can rule out Sauber's request to have statues of the entire Von Trapp family. Similarly, we can forget - and I don't know who wrote this one; I can't believe it came from HRT - the suggestion to have nothing but a pile of rubble on the pedestal with the title 'It's a miracle!' scrawled beneath.

"Our Irish statue and erection delegate, who couldn't, er, come because he has what he describes as a problem with his hydraulics, has put forward Eddie Jordan playing drums as a candidate for the statue.

"It's quite difficult to argue with his reasoning. Jordan is a musician - although some might question that - and a well-known motor sport name."

"That's rubbish," said the Irish karting and pushbike delegate. "We can't have that eejit up there representing motor sport."

"Not to worry," said the chairman. "I've found the perfect get-out. Appendix O of the 2011 Sporting Code, under Article 10 'Advertising and Structures', says quite clearly there must not be 'adverse or misleading optical effect such as bewildering repetition'.

"I think, gentlemen, we can agree Mr. Jordan rules himself out on several counts.

"Jedward, anyone?

"No, I thought not. Susan Boyle it is, then. Fully clothed. And if people don't like it, they can blame that silly shop-keeper from Knightsbridge."

Maurice Hamilton , a freelance motor sport writer and broadcaster since 1977, is the author of more than twenty books and contributes to websites and magazines worldwide.

His weekly column for Grandprix.com was Highly Commended in the 2011 Newspress New Media Awards.

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