A secret meeting
JANUARY 10, 2003
In the New Year's Honours List The Mole was awarded something called a CMG. This is a wonderfully old-fashioned honour which is given to old spooks, without anyone noticing it has happened. The citations always read something like "Senior Civil Servant, Foreign Office, London".
CMG stands for Companion of The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael & St. George and in government circles having these letters after your name gives you a certain status: CMG, they say, stands for Call Me God. If one day The Mole progresses to the status of Knight Commander or the holder of a Grand Cross of the order, then he would then be referred to "Kindly Call Me God" or "God Calls Me God".
Such things keep civil servants amused.
It has to be said that there are times when things go a little quiet in the Motor Racing and Tinpot Dictator Department at Vauxhall Cross and on such occasions The Mole will often find himself looking out across the Thames to The Tate Gallery, musing about times gone by. Last week it was snowing across large parts of Europe and word of falling snow sent The Mole on a nostalgic trip back to days when the world's second oldest profession was a bit more exciting than it is at the moment. He thought of the time when he was based in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in southern Germany, attending the US Army Russian Institute. This was a rather odd place which had once been a prisoner-of-war camp for German officers after World War II but which in the early 1960s became an establishment where former Soviet soldiers and defectors taught "members of the intelligence community" to speak Russian and imparted other useful knowledge about the Soviet Union.
They were good times and The Mole longed to be back in snowy Garmisch, fighting the Cold War.
Later that day, word came from one of his pet pilots to say that there had been a meeting of jets at Le Bourget, Paris's executive airfield. Meeting rooms at executive jet airports are useful places for spooks and motor racing team owners. One can come and go quickly and one is largely protected from prying eyes. The only problem is that pilots seem to watch one another's activities with great enthusiasm. They are always a useful source of information in motor racing, a sport in which a lot of people using executive jets.
The Mole's man at Le Bourget reported that a jet arrived carrying a Mr Mosley of the FIA and several of his hit men. Not long afterwards another flew in bearing the head of one of the world's leading automobile manufacturers. The pilot realised that there might be a connection and so kept an eye on where the two entourages went. Amazingly, not only did they go to the same place (a meeting room) but they were then joined by a third chief executive of another big car company.
The Mole was intrigued by this secret meeting and concluded that it was most probably part of a campaign by the FIA to make sure that there is not the feared split in Formula 1 ranks in 2008. No doubt Mosley was busy trying to convince the big names in the industry to put pressure on their colleagues not to rock the boat by trying to set up a series outside FIA regulation.
As The Mole was mulling over this, a report arrived on his desk suggesting that the organisation needed to send someone to Munich to sort out whether BMW is going to do its own thing in F1 in 2005 or whether the company will be more conservative and stick with Williams. The analyst said that he felt that BMW will look at the current political situation in Formula 1 and will conclude that starting its own project now would be an act of folly. The new team would not be fully competitive before 2008, which is just about when F1 is due to fall apart.
Are BMW managers going to risk a massive investment in F1 at a time when all that is really needed is a little sharpening of the claws at Williams in Grove?
The Mole concluded that he would be the best man for the Munich job and began to make plans for the trip. He figured that it would take only a couple of good lunches with BMW folk to get the truth. Thus he would depart on Thursday morning and that would mean he would be free to pop down to Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the weekend and still be home for tea on Sunday afternoon.
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