EFF ONE

It was Friday night in Budapest and I was attending an exclusive West party in a restaurant-cum-club. Like all Hungarian parties, it came with all the usual deluxe trimmings: excellent finger food, endless supplies of premium brand vodka and a permanent parade of women who appeared to have left home in a great hurry and in little more than their underwear. The girls all seemed keen on hanging out with a stocky little man with slightly too much jewellery. I assumed he was their mentor, benefactor and religious adviser but it turned out later that he was none other than the extraordinarily famous Hungarian World Featherweight Champion boxer who goes by the nickname of "Koko".

It would have been nice if someone had pointed this out to me before I spotted a framed pair of boxing shorts bearing this name, as I might not have come out with the question: "What kind of a daft name is Koko?" in a very loud voice, when I had my back to the pugilist.

To make matters worse it turned out he owned the joint...

I guess I was lucky to get out without being punched but the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend started with a big bang nonetheless when a spectacular firework display on the banks of the Beautiful Brown Danube went ever-so-slightly wrong. It was spectacular but also rather short, as the "Oohs", "Aahs" and raised eyebrows of the crowd turned into "Ouch", "Aargh" and singed eyebrows as the entire stock of fireworks all went off at one go. This set fire to a barge and a nearby building. It rather set the tone for some spectacular on-track action during the weekend, not least Ralph Firman's spectacular accident on Saturday morning. It was, it must be said, one of the wildest coincidences of the year that when the lanky Englishman had a monstrous accident his team just happened to have a Hungarian test driver on its books. Cynics might suggest that, given the fiscal state of the team, it would not have been a surprise to have learned that Eddie Jordan was found on Friday night in his own pit, sawing through the rear wing support. Perish the thought.

It certainly had the local press getting excited and proved to be rather overpowering for members of the Jordan press team.

"Stop asking me all these questions! I'm just Swedish and blonde..." said the attractive woman press officer, getting bored with the 200 questions thrown at her in the Media Centre on the subject of the snappily named Zsolt Baumgartner.

Jenson Button is not Swedish (nor a natural blond) but he was receiving the same kind of attention for other reasons. The BAR boys were having some fun at Jenson's expense as his girlfriend Louise Griffiths is currently in the limelight as a contestant in a BBC music talent competition. Indeed it seems that she is now more famous than her F1 squeeze. When he walked into the garage at the Hungaroring, Jenson found that his name on the side of the cockpit had been replaced with the words: "Louise's Boyfriend".

Jenson is obviously keen to see his beloved winning the competition and has resorted to an interesting method of increasing the size of her vote from the general public. When I turned up an hour late to interview him, Jenson grinned at me and agreed to give me some of his valuable time, but only if I lent him my mobile phone for a few minutes. As we were talking he just fiddled with the phone and never made a call. Later, when I got my phone back, there was a text message saying "Thank you for voting for Louise."

If Niki Lauda had his way Louise would be driving the BAR-Honda instead of Jenson. The world's most politically incorrect man - he assumes a bride wears white at a wedding to match the other kitchen appliances - is now championing the cause of a 15 year old girl, with the idea of getting her an F1 drive. The Swiss Miss, Natasha Somethingunpronounceable, was pointed out to Lauda after he told a German TV reporter that he felt modern F1 cars were easy enough to drive for a woman to make it all the way to the top.

"You'd get double the crowd with a pretty girl on the front row," said the three-time World Champion. He was impressed later by the fact that she started karting at the age of six, is now one of the better drivers in the BMW Cup and has physical attributes which we will quickly gloss over.

"The cars are easier to drive now, with power steering and they no longer carry full fuel loads," said Niki. "So why not?"

While Lauda was expanding on his theory, over in the United States, hot shot woman racer Sarah Fisher crashed into the wall at the Nazareth Speedway and had to be taken off to hospital, conclusive proof as far as I am concerned that women cannot parallel park...

Moving swiftly on, I was the proud owner of a new laptop computer in Hungary. I got it the usual way, by walking into a shop and putting some hard-earned cash down on the counter. During the weekend, however, I came by an e-mail from a mad Australian who works at the Melbourne Grand Prix, helping us hacks with our (endless) IT problems. He had gone to great lengths to get a free computer and here, in his own words, is his sorry tale: "I did a dumb thing last week," he wrote. "I had my 15 minutes of fame when I appeared on a live TV across Australia. This involved a stunt which saw me hanging 20 metres above the crowd suspended from a crane in the dark over Melbourne on a rainy evening. The aim was to try to drop my own laptop computer on to a target. The closest one to the centre of the target won a brand new Sony notebook computer. There was three of us and I came second. Yes, I demolished my laptop. And no, I didn't win.

"However a couple of days later I got a call from the TV network to say that Sony Australia had seen the stunt and have decided to give me

a laptop anyway. It probably had something to do with the tears that were running down my face when I learnt that I had come second and was going home with a T-shirt, cap, drinking mug and a box full of pieces of my old computer. I haven't taken delivery of the new laptop yet but I'm pretty excited about the whole thing. It was a dumb thing to do at the time but I'm sure glad I did it now."

On my drive to the airport on Monday morning I spotted a family parked at the side of the road. They were obviously on holiday and Mum and Dad were clearly having an all-too-familiar holiday row. It reminded me of a fight I had with Mrs Eff some years ago when returning from a trip to the Lake District. Talk about unreasonable! It all started because I forgot to open the door of the car for her. It was not surprising as I was far too busy swimming to the surface at the time...

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