EFF ONE

I heard a local journalist in Montreal complain that we Europeans think of Canada as nothing more than a suburb of the United States (which sounds about right), but I decided that to make him feeling better I would provide for the world a short history of Canada.

It is the largest country on Planet Earth. It is bigger than China but has a population of only 25 million. This is made up mainly of geese, wolves, beavers (my favorite), bears, mosquitoes and moose (which are delicious if served with chocolate). Canada has given the world Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen, although luckily not all on the same bill, as no one could afford the tickets in such a case. Unfortunately, in Montreal they only seem to have heard of Celine Dion, the well known serial tune killer.

Canada is famous for maple syrup which is not surprising given that there are a rather large number of maple trees in the middle bit of the country (where there are a lot of beavers, bears and so on). The maple leaf is the country's national emblem and everyone who ever leaves Canada sports a maple leaf to make sure that the world realizes that they are not, and never have been, and never could be an American.

The citizens (or should one say citoyens) of Montreal are different. And they are keen to tell anyone who will listen to their tongue-twisting language that Montreal is a big city which offers a small town welcome. In my case that consisted of the drug-sniffing dog at the airport, mistaking my right leg for a long lost girlfriend and giving me a very warm welcome.

One can only wonder what the aforementioned Customs Cur made of Ozzy Osbourne when he turned up at the airport. One can only guess that there was probably a certain amount of barking and yapping (and possibly a few aerial somersaults). Osbourne is a lad from the Black Country in England, the rather less than glitzy industrial sprawl of Birmingham. He says that his childhood consisted of one pair of shoes, one pair of socks, no underwear, one pair of pants and one jacket. Things have apparently not changed that much.

The rock legend and former Black Sabbath front man is seen by the world as some kind of drugged-up lunatic who sacrifices animals and eats dead frogs for supper while worshiping Satan surrounded by dead bodies. This is of course complete and utter nonsense. I have never heard of him using more than one dead body at any given time...

Osbourne was not an A-list celebrity until recently when MTV began airing a show about him and his family in the United States (the well-known suburb of Canada) called The Osbournes, a fly-on-the-wall documentary series about his daily life. This apparently makes all F1 people look sane and normal. In the week prior to the Canadian event British TV did a Day in the Life of Eddie Jordan, so perhaps we can look forward to future fireside viewing of The Jordans, a tale of normal everyday rich F1 folk.

Jordan however seems to be opposed to Reality TV given his remarks during Friday's FIA Press Conference which was an amusing spat between a bunch of millionaires (which is always good to watch). Sir Frank Williams was the only one who managed to stick to his original statement and refused to discuss the financing of the sport in a public forum. The others all got dragged into a slanging match. Jordan looked particularly uncomfortable. He had been hoping for a slice of the so-called "fighting-fund" to help the poorer teams but seemed unsure as to whether or not he should have been siding with the big teams, he kept shifting around in his chair, obviously in some pain from sitting on a rather sharp fence.

When I was a kid I was taught not to whinge and complain but it seems that nowadays if one wails and gnashes one's teeth enough one can get given a pile of money by the patron saint of distressed F1 team owners, Saint Bernard of Biggin Hill.

Ecclestone himself was watching from the back of the conference room and when the time came for one final question from the floor, he grabbed a microphone. Sadly the conference moderator hadn't noticed and wrapped up proceedings.

"Probably a good thing," muttered Bernie as he handed back the microphone. "I might have told the truth."

My colleagues in the F1 media have used up plenty of lap-top battery life speculating about the potential for mischief of having Mr. Ecclestone running a team again but I am sure that in a while a gullible punter with a pile of money will turn up and Mr. E will flog the team for a healthy profit.

Canada's love affair with home-grown hero Jacques Villeneuve seems to have cooled this year and he took a bit of a pasting from the Montreal media over his lack of results. At least his restaurant and bar "Newtown" seemed to be doing a roaring trade over the weekend, so when he is pitched from F1 without a job he can always get work waiting tables.

Jacques' family will stick by him come what may and a large contingent was present in the BAR section of the Paddock Club after the race, where a raffle had been organized for various bits of team memorabilia. One lady did not seem terribly impressed to have won a signed photo of Jenson Button.

It was hardly surprising as she turned out to be none other than Jacques's granny.

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