A midnight feast
JUNE 21, 2003
Mrs Mole was snoring and, homely though that was, The Mole found it impossible to sleep. After a while he decided that he would go foraging for a snack in the kitchen. And then, by the light of the summer moon, he sat in the conservatory at Mole Manor and had a midnight feast which consisted of a cold sausage and marmalade sandwich and some cranberry juice. It was a strange combination but it seemed to work.
The Mole was tired. The British GP is always the most taxing race of the year because of the fear one has of traffic problems. If one stays up near the circuit it makes some sense to drive in the wrong direction and then fly in by helicopter but The Mole, mindful of government spending, felt that driving in was probably a wiser idea and so was up with the larks each morning because you cannot trust things not to go wrong.
But getting into Silverstone is the least of the problems. Inside the track one cannot walk more than 10 yards without bumping into another old face and as it is highly impolite to ignore them, The Mole spent the whole weekend running behind schedule.
Tired though he was, The Mole felt the need for some fresh night air and so, in his pyjamas, headed out for a walk in the garden. Dodging the rose beds and the ornate fish pond he wandered down towards the ha-ha that marks the end of The Mole estate. Halfway there he changed his mind and turned right to the summer house and sat down to enjoy the night.
The Mole thought of Justin Wilson, dressed in black, sneaking into the Jaguar Racing factory at the dead of night to see if he could fit himself into Antonio Pizzonia's car. It must have been a splendid little drama and absolutely the kind of James Bond-like behaviour that Jaguar should be promoting.
The Mole's thought then turned to the most ridiculous moment of the weekend when those down-to-earth people who build F1 engines got together to discuss the future engine regulations. For the moment everything is set in stone and it will take unanimous agreement to change the engine rules but some bright spark had come up with an idea of how to reduce horsepower and thus slow the cars down. This would be done by reducing the engine capacity to 2.4-litres. They said that would be very easy and could be achieved by simply chopping two cylinders off a three-litre V10.
The Mole could not believe his ears.
"Total insanity," he said. "The last thing they need to do now is to change the engine rules. These people have no idea. Budgets would go through the roof. They would all start work on new engines and two or three of them would probably conclude that it was all too expensive and would call it quits.
The Mole's thoughts were interrupted by a passing fox, out looking for his own midnight snack.
And then The Mole drifted back to thoughts of Silverstone.
Everything had been organised so that on Sunday as soon as the incoming pre-race helicopter traffic had died down in the lunchtime period and Formula 1 had switched from doing business mode into sucking up to VIP mode, The Mole would hurry down to the HSBC Heliport and then be flown directly to Mole Manor.
He nearly missed his flight because he was digging up the latest scandal about the future of the British Grand Prix. That morning Bernie Ecclestone, arriving pointedly for just one day, called in an odd selection of five or six journalists and told them that he was planning to give Silverstone 30 days to come up with a plan to pay for the work needed to bring Silverstone up to scratch.
"Not a clue about media management," said Number Two on Monday when The Mole was discussing the whole business. "Why create five happy journalists and 250 who are annoyed."
The Mole smiled.
"I don't suppose Bernard will care," he said. "Besides he has the new FOM Press Officer to blame now."
Fortunately The Mole did make it to his helicopter in time and they were off and away, arriving at Mole Manor with 20 minutes to go before the start of the race. The Colonel, who arrived bang on schedule as always, joined him for a quick bite of lunch, left out by Mrs Mole before she disappeared off to "an antique thing" and then they settled down to watch the Grand Prix.
"I wonder what the strategy will be today," said The Colonel.
"We have a two-stop Pimm's strategy," declared The Mole. "We will start out with a quick stint during the exciting early laps and then at around lap 12 when things have settled down I will nip out and refill the glasses. After that we will have to struggle through to lap 40 when I aim to go in for a second stop."
"Marvellous," said The Colonel. "I think that will work."
"And you don't need computers to calculate it!" laughed The Mole.
Everything went according to plan until The Mole was at the bar during his first stop.
"Bloody hell," said The Colonel. "Mole, quick come here.There's a man in a skirt running down the race track!"
"Did you have a drink before coming over?" said The Mole gleefully.
"No really," cried The Colonel, quite agitated. "This is real. This is disastrous."
The Mole came running and together they watched the whole strange affair of Father Neil Horan's one-man crusade to save the world.
"I'm afraid that I think such people should be taken out and shot," said The Colonel. "No mercy. I would have him charged with attempted murder."
The Colonel then realised that The Mole had left the Pimm's behind at the bar and so declared that an unscheduled stop was now necessary.
"The refuelling machine has malfunctioned," he said. "Sorry old boy."
When The Mole returned The Colonel seemed to be in a very jolly mood.
"It looked like Jackie Stewart to me," he said.
"What?" said The Mole. "The man in the kilt? No, that wasn't Jackie. There was no member of the royal family running alongside beside him."
"Miaow," said The Colonel. "Just because he has a knighthood and you Mr Mole do not."
The Mole smiled at the memory.
Down towards Dorking the sun was beginning to lighten the sky. It was time to go back to bed and try again.
Besides who knows what the New Year's Honours will bring.
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