THE MOLE

Cheese and pickle sandwiches

Mrs Mole's idea of a cheese and pickle sandwich is a quite spectacular edifice and also the reason why The Mole never asks for sandwiches when Mrs Batty the cook is away on holiday. But on Sunday The Mole forgot that Mrs Batty had gone off to see her sister Beryl in Brighton and when Mrs Mole asked if sandwiches would do for lunch (while watching the Grand Prix) he had said "Yes dear" without really thinking about it. The Colonel had come round as usual and Mrs Mole had departed to a garden fete or perhaps a cricket match at Abinger Hammer. The Mole had quite forgotten what she had said and hoped that she would return that evening, lest he have to visit the local Constabulary and explain that he had no idea where his wife had gone, which would be rather embarrassing.

They had gone to the kitchen to collect lunch and there discovered Mrs Mole's efforts which were shaped unusually because, despite many years of cheerful domestic life, Mrs Mole had still not quite mastered the art of cutting bread into thin slices. The result was that once installed in the conservatory The Mole and The Colonel found themselves struggling to get these monstrous creations into their mouths.

"I think it will be a three Pimm's race?" said The Colonel. "Oh, I say, it looks bloody hot at Hockenheim. Did you see that shot of Norbert? He looked positively sweaty."

"So would you be if things were going the way they are at McLaren-Mercedes at the moment," said The Mole.

The Colonel chortled and after a pause to dig a chunk of Cheddar from between his teeth, launched into a new topic.

"Now, Mole, what's all this I hear about Canada being cancelled, a race in San Francisco and Donington bidding for the British Grand Prix. It all sounds very unlikely."

The Mole was chewing and quite unable to reply and so to avoid embarrassment The Colonel whistled a couple of lines of "The British Grenadier" and ended up singing "but of all the world's great heroes, there's none that can compare, with a tow, row, row, row, row, row to the British Grenadier."

The Mole kept chewing and raised an eyebrow.

"I wonder what the hell that song means," said The Colonel to no-one in particular.

Finally The Mole was able to swallow.

"The whole calendar business is really rather dull," he explained. "But it is really very simple. Bernard has too many races to fit into the calendar next year. He is never happier than when he has race promoters to play off against one another and so he is making a few nips and tucks on the calendar and pushing up the prices. The rumours are simple ways in which promoters are convinced it is a good idea to do what Bernard asks them to do. The Belgians are very happy to be back on the calendar but I have a vague suspicion that they will be paying rather more than they were before the race was dumped from the calendar over that silly tobacco business."

"Am Sa Frisco?" said The Colonel, having foolishly taken another bite of his sandwich before asking a question.

"The race in San Francisco?" said The Mole. "That seems to have been a nice little lever to push Tony George into accepting that Indianapolis needs to move from September to June. One day there is a story about an F1 race in John McLaren Park and the next day Indianapolis moves to June. Now Bernie has two North American races back-to-back, which is what he wants in order to save the teams time and money.

"The Donington thing is wishful thinking but it adds a little pressure to Silverstone to get things sorted out."

The Colonel nodded.

"Now, if I may," said The Mole. "I am going to have some more sandwich. I may be some time."

The pair chewed in silence for a moment. The race began.

The Mole chewed mightily as Ralf Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Rubens Barrichello all collided and out came the Safety Car. The Colonel had been quite excited for a moment and, now able to speak again, had made a number of unpleasant remarks about Germans before falling silent again. Finally The Mole was in a position to speak.

"Silly Ralf," he said. "Anyway, just to finish off on the subject of the calendar, I should tell you that the team bosses had a meeting on Thursday afternoon and Bernard asked them which was the least popular event. He got the answer "Brazil" which is not what he wanted to hear because Brazil is F1's only South American race and that is a big market that needs to be developed. So then he asked them about the European races and discovered that no-one wants to go to France any more."

"No-one?" said The Colonel, before sallying forth into his sandwich again.

"Not even those nice people from Renault," said The Mole. "Anyway I don't suppose they will ditch the French GP but something has to go because I cannot see the team agreeing to 18 races. If a few agree then the others will try to negotiate extra concessions and that would torpedo the whole thing."

The Mole took another bite of his sandwich.

The Colonel swallowed hard, gasped for breath and then had a thought.

"Talking of torpedoes," he said. "What do you know about the Jordan-Vodafone Case?"

The Mole chewed, indicating that in a minute or two he would be in a position to answer.

And so The Colonel began to sing again.

"Some talk of Alexander and some of Hercules, of Hector and Lysander, and such great names as these... La-la-la, la, tarrrum, pom-pom, to the British Grenadier!"

The Mole finished chewing.

"I am terribly sorry," he said, "but the Jordan-Vodafone case is classified information."

"Classified information?" said The Colonel, rather surprised.

"Yes," said The Mole. "It is classified under Stupid Things Team Owners Have Done. We have a file with that name in the office."

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