EFF ONE

Monaco is the kind of place where you wake up in the morning and wonder what all the poor people are going to be doing today. Not that there are any poor people in Monaco. As I understand it, being poor is against the law and anyone found lying about on the streets tends to be swept up pretty quickly, which is why I found it rather odd in the early hours of Friday morning when I bumped into Rod Stewart and his latest squeeze Penny Lancaster (How does the old goat do it?) sitting on the steps of the Hotel de Paris. The haystack-headed, gravel-throated chanteur appeared to be a little the worse for wear. Ms Lancaster is famous for her lingerie modelling skills but Rod obviously has similar talents as he was wearing a kilt and sitting with his legs akimbo. I sauntered on whistling some of his greatest hits: "Hot legs" and "You wear it well" but neither seemed to be entirely appropriate in the circumstances.

Rod may have got away without being arrested but that was very definitely not the case for an advertising salesman from a British monthly Formula 1 magazine. I am told that when he arrived in Monaco he was supposed to be sharing a hotel room with some journalists from this glossy rag but protested loudly at the idea, insisting that he was far too important not to have his own hotel room. They say that in life one gets what one deserves and he certainly did, being banged up in a cell of his own down at the Monaco police station. To make matters worse, just before slamming the door, the policeman removed the mattress, which meant that our hero had to sleep on the cold stone bed. Being drunk and disorderly (allegedly) made this less of a trial (I am always waking up on pavements and in flower beds) and I am told that Monaco jail is not such a bad place because you can order takeaway if you don't like the food. The only slight worry is that in a tax-free country one cannot easily spend the night at the taxpayers' expense and one wonders if in the morning one is going to be presented with a bill for accommodation. If not, I think I shall stay in the police station next year as it will be a great deal cheaper and rather more luxurious than the shabby apartment which I share each year with an ever-expanding family of cockroaches and a Swedish hack.

I have come to the conclusion that the Principality of Monaco should be renamed Moneyco because there is more cash floating around here than there is in Mr E's bank account, assuming of course that you can find Mr E's bank account. One of the local residents of Monaco is a Scottish chap called David Coulthard who owns the Columbus Hotel and rents out rooms to his team mates from the paltry sum of $4000 a night. One wonders whether this is his Scottish background coming out, or whether this is his revenge for the McLaren MP4-19. David has his own floating gin palace as well and this year it sported a banner which said: "Go, David, Go". Obviously a message from team boss Ron Dennis, who already has two other drivers under contract for 2005.

Future McLaren driver JP Montoya this year found out that sleeping on a yacht is not necessarily a great idea. On Friday morning he was looking decidedly grumpy having been kept awake by the late night revelry on the nearby Fosters boat. It wasn't me, I'm a silent drinker. One year the harbour was so choppy during the Grand Prix weekend that a stream of F1 drivers could be seen stumbling ashore looking green around the gills and begging for land-based accommodation. I offered my digs as a possible option but no-one took me up on it, not even the poor homeless girls I found walking the streets late in the evening.

In Monaco even the vagrants are well-dressed and ask in a very polite fashion if perhaps they might have a $20 bill for a cup of coffee (with a twist of lemon) and a pain au chocolat. In fact it seems that the bums of Monaco are so smartly turned out that they are known as fragrants.

Still, I do enjoy the walk down to the paddock in the mornings, passing through the colourful Monaco market where even the oranges are Prada-branded and where the price of fish is definitely turbot-charged. The fish stalls are fascinating although I've now come to the startling revelation that there is absolutely no attractive way to display an octopus.

Almost as unpleasant are the piles of dog mess on every pavement, which I find amazing given that some of the poodles one sees around town are so delicate that they could never be capable of such vast creations. These dogs are usually attached to strange-looking owners. I saw one last weekend, which had been shaven completely, apart from a pink Mohican down the middle of its back.

I am talking about the poodle rather than the owner.

Talking of unusual hairdos, Jarno Trulli's top knot must have stood on end after he took pole position on Saturday and jumped into a waiting people-carrier which was there to rush him to the Press Conference. Imagine his horror when this speeding machine was driven into by a Renault course car, which came tanking around Rascasse Corner at the wrong moment.

Jaguar Racing had an expensive crash as well, having decided for some unearthly reason to put diamonds in the noses of their cars. Perhaps next week there will be earrings dangling from the rear wing endplates. The Jaguar jewelry no doubt explains why the Monaco marshals were so keen to rush to the aid of the Jaguar drivers whenever they crashed or caught fire. The only problem was when Mark Webber went up in smoke on Thursday the fire marshals were so busy looking for the diamonds that they forgot to fight the fire and poor old Webber had to put out the blaze himself. On Sunday Christian Klien crashed at the Grand Hotel Hairpin and the Jaguar Racing crew were shocked when the car returned to the pits sans $200,000 diamond. The local police have issued a description of the villains: apparently people should look out for women wearing earrings featuring ragged bits of carbon fibre. The suspect women are likely to be accompanied by men in rather gay orange overalls. There is incidentally absolutely no truth in the rumour that the police arrested small team owner Eddie Jordan, disguised as road sweeper, at the scene of Klien's crash.

Actually, Jordan had a very good weekend. Not only did Nick Heidfeld score the team's first points of the season but also EJ indulged in some successful wagering and put a four figure sum of money on his old driver Jarno Trulli being on pole (at 14-1) and winning (at 20-1). It seems that EJ went home much richer than when he arrived. Jordan was a billionaire magnet all weekend attracting visits from billionaire magnates Roman Abramovich and Philip Green.

I spent Friday quaffing fine wine on the West yacht and from there I could look across the harbour and see Abramovich's boat Pelorus, which boasts its own helicopter, submarine and two speed boats. While I was there news broke of a London Grand Prix in Hyde Park. I do like the sound of the idea but I am a little worried about how they are going to get Abramovich's yacht into the Serpentine.

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