Where there's a Will there's a play...

With "Shakespeare in Love" doing well at the Oscars and every actor in the world desperate to get into doublets (particularly those belonging to Gwynneth Paltrow), I was wondering what The Bard would make of modern Grand Prix racing.

This may seem an odd thought-process but one must remember that we poor F1 folk have spent a lot of time on aeroplanes in recent weeks and, while engineers have wasted their time dreaming up new gearboxes, other minds have wandered in ethereal places... What would Shakespeare think of F1? If he spent a day in the paddock and had a long lunch with the (working) media what plots and character sketches would he have in his notebook?

Actually, he would probably not be allowed in the paddock at all. The FIA would say that a Stratford-upon-Avon schoolteacher had no right to a pass just because he had written a few plays. In the end he would have to be smuggled in as a guest of Johnny Herbert, a former Stratford resident - if not a great man of letters.

I can see, a year after the visit, Shakespeare's first Grand Prix play would open at The Globe. "As I like it", the story of the rise to prominence of a man called Ecclestone.

It would be followed by a tragedy called "King Leer", the tale of a smiling politician called Mosley, fated to be a leader but deprived of that possibility because he was born with the wrong name.

McLaren would provide the setting for "The Merchant called Dennis" and Ferrari would be perfect for "The Rape of Luca", a story of how an Italian car company gave away all its money to a German driver and some British engineers - and still did not win the World Championship.

And what of Eddie Jordan? What a great character for the stage. The perfect star for "All's Well that Ends in my Pocket".

The Bard would, no doubt, soon have the warring Scottish chieftains, Jackie Stewart and Tom Walkinshaw, fighting it out on the moors in "MacBest" and the smiling Prince Malik would pop up in "A Comedy of Arrows".

And for those who like a little darkness in their lives Shakespeare would chart the demise of Tyrrell in a sombre play called "Oldfellow". And after such success the theatres would be crying out for a sequel: the story of British American Racing - "Much ado about nothing".

And what would Shakespeare make of the recent FIA World Council. I must say I thought BAR was for the high jump but, no, Craig Pollock pulled a rabbit from his hat and blamed his lawyers instead. The World Council, which obviously had magic mushroom quiche for lunch, accepted this defence and rather than giving the BAR boss a good public flogging, decided to make him explain to everyone involved (in writing) that the lawyers were to blame.

Oh, what a story! What beautiful irony. What poetic justice! Who else but the evil Mosley could have dreamed up such a sweet poison for a punishment?

Just imagine, what Will would make of it...

The court of King Bat. The King is reading.

King Bat: "One is always down in a Depression. But really,

profits dropping 16%. 'tis a disaster. And

then this Pollock and that racing team.

Beware the Ides of March. Indeed so..."

(Enter a messenger)

Messenger: "My Lord. A letter" (exits with Equity Card)

King Bat: "What drivel is this? Ah! 'tis from the jester

Pollock. About the racing team. Bla-bla-bla. In

Geneva. Bla-bla-bla. More bla. Aha! The point of the

missive. But it cannot be! What is this? It is the

fault of MY lawyers. Is that not MY fault? For is it

not I who controls the legal eagles? I must read this

again. No. 'tis true. 'tis my fault. Am I mad to

interpret it thus? Get me a scholar to unravel this

for me! Clearly I have not the wit to understand

how a King can be blamed by a jester.

(Quietly, with menace). What fool does this Pollock

take me for? With a flick of his hair he has escaped

his predicament and I am the dunce in the corner.

'Tis outrageous. I shall have him killed."

(Enter Pollock in 555/Lucky Strike uniform)

Pollock: "My liege. How joyful it is to see you in such fine

form and fettle."

King Bat: "Quiet thee, cringing silver-tongued slave. I am in

the depths. Silence or I shall send thee to Brackley. 'tis not so a glamorous a place for a man of the jet-set. Do you often go there?"

Pollock: "My Lord. If I had to go to the depths of Hell to

serve you, I would do so gladly."

King Bat: "You can go to Hell later. Tell me now of

Australia. You were going to win the first race with

this team for which I given many bags of gold."

Pollock: "Aye, my lord, and we would have done but for the

other teams. If everyone ahead of us had retired

before we did, 'twould have been a different story."

King Bat: "If my aunt had a moustache, worthless harbinger,

perchance she would be my uncle.

(Aside quietly) 'tis lucky that he does not know that

my aunt does have a moustache."

Pollock: "My liege, it may have seemed strange at the time,

but our strategy of strutting like rampant roosters

bore great fruit. All the scribes in the world fell

upon us and in Australia everyone was talking only of

BAR, of the great Pollock - and of your magnificent

tobacco products. There is no publicity that does one


King Bat: "Except, mere vassal, the announcement of one's


Pollock: "Allow me, great leader, to change the subject. Let

me amuse you with tales of hot water in the mountains

of Geneva."

King Bat: "I have read your letter..."

Pollock: "Ah, but I must explain it some more. 'twas a game we

had to play with the wizards of the sport. We do not

wish to be mere pawns on the FIA board of chess. You

must be the King and I...

King Bat: " 'twould be rude to say Queen."

Pollock: "...would ride beside you. But, alas, they called my

bluff for they have evil ways which I imagined not.

I was, I admit, outwitted, but I found a route to

escape. I had to explain that it had all been an

unfortunate misunderstanding and that my lawyers had

acted without authority."

King Bat: "The lawyers that you claim as your own are MY

lawyers. You have blamed me!"

Pollock: "My lord, great master of my universe, I criticize

neither them nor you - except in public."

King Bat: "But why could it not have been your fault? Why must

the poor lawyers suffer for you."

Pollock: "Lawyers, my lord, are easily replaced. There is no

shortage of them. They are expendable.

King Bat: "In this you are correct. There are a plague of

lawyers on this earth and what are they fit for? They

can run countries and international sporting

federations, but things always ends up in a mess. Do

you know what you call a burning building full of


Pollock: "No, my lord, I do not. Pray impart your great wisdom

on this subject."

King Bat: "A good way to begin."

Pollock: "Thou jesteth like a professional. Great master. But

please make me not redundant with your jests.

King Bat: "Redundant? Yes, that could be a word for what I

intend. Yes indeed, a jester without a head is indeed

redundant. What a fine description.

Pollock: "My lord, that would be a trifle harsh. If I appear

to be a critic think not evil of me for it is my

belief that this is the best way to sell cigarettes

to Chinamen. 'twould serve no purpose if my team was

to stay at home..."

King Bat: "My team!"

Pollock: "...the right decision, my liege, was to blame the

lawyers and make them look fools but for a brief and soon-forgotten moment."

King Bat: "Ah, but that makes me the fool in your story?"

Pollock: " 'tis only a story, my lord. Remember that. Short

and irrelevant, like most stories in this sport. The

aim was not to demean you, but to sell cigarettes

to Chinamen. Is that not the aim of our game?"

King Bat: "Aye, so it is. I suppose you have done well. I am

the fool and you are whiter than a virtuous maid."

Pollock: "That is gracious of you, majesty."

King Bat: "Away with you now. I need peace to talk to myself."

Pollock: "Your wish is my command, great leader. And let not

your soliloquy be sombre for soon there will rise

over China a cloud of your sweet-smelling tobacco

smoke." (Exits)

King Bat: "I am to be the fool in the jester's tale... and I

suppose that he thinks that he will be the king and all for a few Chinamen with smoke coming out of their

ears. How little he understands of this game we play.

My wealth is mountainous but my power is always under

threat from the enemies within. China can wait. My

power cannot be seen to be challenged. I am the King

and no jester will bring me down to where they are

forever sharpening the corporate knives. If I were a

mere jester, I would be walking the corridors,

watching my back. I am the King and the first rule of

being a king is to know how to keep power. And no

smoke signals from the east will alter that fact of

life. I must find the executioner. Forsythe. Where

are you?" (Exit King Bat)

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