Colonial Living Syndrome
JANUARY 17, 2003
The other day The Mole's office received a telephone call from an angry middle-aged man who demanded to speak to "The Mole".
"The Mole?" said one of the Penelopes. "I am afraid we have no moles here, sir. We are a rather dull company which specialises in foreign investment programmes."
"Don't give me that," said the voice. "I know what you are and I want to speak to The Mole."
"Well, I am terribly sorry but there is really nothing I can do."
"Then give him a message," he cried. "Tell me that I want to report Max Mosley for being a tinpot dictator!"
"How do you spell Mosley?" asked Penelope. "Oh, I am sorry, sir, but I did not get your name."
"And you don't need it," came the reply and the phone went dead.
The computer next to the phone flashed up a message which read: "Caller is somewhere in the south of England" but it was not enough to trace the number.
When Penelope explained the situation to The Mole she said that she got the impression that the caller was well-informed and probably had something to do with Formula 1 but was calling in to the Motor Racing and Tinpot Dictator Department trying to stir up trouble.
The Mole is not very happy with Mosley at the moment because his recent letter to the Formula 1 teams looked remarkably like a column which The Mole wrote two weeks ago about the long term application of logic to F1 to ensure that it is safeguarded from potential collapse if all the car manufacturers decide to withdraw from F1 within a short space of time.
One might think that The Mole would be flattered by this but in fact it is a bit of a problem because The Mole is worried that Mosley may come up with the notion that his offices are bugged. There is a lot that might trouble those who consider such possibilities. For example any spook knows that any organisation that refurbishes its buildings runs the risk of having wiremen sneaking into the buildings to plant the necessary hardware. The FIA has recently refurbished offices in both London and Paris.
The Mole is worried that Mosley might find bugs and conclude that the bugging operation is the work of the Motor Racing and Tinpot Dictator Department.
What some people in motor racing forget is that at the moment The Motor Racing and Tinpot Dictator Department is on the verge of a war and is actually rather too busy at the sorting out the mess in The Gulf to give a hoot about Mosley.
This is what The Mole likes to call Colonial Living Syndrome.
The Mole is not a sociologist but CLS was something he invented in the old days after a period when he was based in Hong Kong (something hush-hush to do with China). CLS is an affliction which breaks out in any small community of like-minded people cut off from the rest of the world. This would regularly happen back in the old days of empire, the best example that leaps to mind being in 1941 when the British Empire was scandalised by stories from Happy Valley in Kenya where Lord Erroll, a landowning aristocrat with a taste for young ladies, ended up with a bullet in his head after carrying on with Lady Diana Delves Broughton (the new wife of the 11th Baron of Doddington). Baron Delves Broughton was duly tried and the court heard wild tales of sex and drugs (rock and roll had yet to be invented) and the defendant was acquitted.
The thing is that CLS can also be applied to other activities where minds are concentrated on very specific issues. Paranoia used to run rampant, for example, in the British security services because everyone thought everyone else was a Russian mole. The same theory can also be applied to motor racing where the same people tend to compete against each other for years on end in a very closed environment. As a result of this they end up living in a world where petty jealousies are blown out of all proportion and clashes of personality become major issues which could and should be avoided. Decisions are not based on what is logical but rather on the need to prove something or the need to put one over on the opposition. The complex mesh of personalities that has developed at the top of F1 has created a situation now where The Mole feels that not everyone is looking logically at the problems. It is not about what is best for the sport but rather about winning the political games being played.
The problem with logic is that one cannot always apply it to the people involved in the sport. Most people know when to quit but the strong-willed characters in F1 do not accept that there have to be limits and that not everyone can be successful. Many a Formula 1 team boss has gone to the wall because he believed he could be a success when in reality he could not. But lack of success is not always a barrier because a little failure helps to temper the personalities involved. If failure was not allowed Williams would not be in F1 nor would Ron Dennis of McLaren. But they kept going far beyond the point at which logic should have stopped them.
There is a similar question now over Eddie Jordan. Dietrich Mateschitz of Red Bull has been offering Jordan a very considerable sum of money to walk away from the sport so that Mateschitz can set up his Red Bull All American Racing Team. Jordan has been pressured from all sides to do the deal, in part because a lot of people are keen to increase the speed at which the sport is growing in the United States, in part because it makes no sense to have a team without a major sponsor and a major sponsor without a team. Jordan has resisted that pressure although logic might have told him to take the money and run. Whether he is right or wrong is a question which will be answered soon enough.
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