THE MOLE

Penelope's wicked weekend

The Mole was puzzling over Jenson Button's decision to move to BMW Williams in 2005. It was hard to understand such a switch. BAR-Honda is the coming team at the moment. The Honda V10 engine is probably the most powerful and the BAR chassis is good too. Inside the team Jenson is the undisputed number one with no real threat from Takuma Sato. So why would a driver leave such a situation? The Mole just could not understand it. Yes, Williams has a better pedigree and must not be underestimated but surely BAR is a better bet? When Number Two wandered in, The Mole asked his opinion.

"There ain't no logic like money," said Number Two, as he knocked out the contents of his pipe.

"Money," pondered The Mole.

At that moment Penelope (Roedean) swanned into the office with a serene look on her pretty, tanned, face and her Kelly Bag over her arm.

"Nice weekend?" said The Mole.

"Dreamy," said Penelope.

The Mole and Number Two waited for the rest of the story.

Penelope sighed a very big sigh: "I went to Deauville. It was divine."

"Deauville?" said The Mole. "I didn't know you were the horsey type."

"I'm not really," she said, "but the other week I met this chap called Count Frederic Von Nuss und Bolzen at a party and he said: 'Darling girl, come to the Deauville races'. Well, I completely forgot about it until last week until I got a phone call, telling me to be at Farnborough on Friday at six and to bring my best little summer dresses and my Kelly Bag. I was a little suspicious about the use of the word 'little' but how can a girl refuse an invitation like that? So I went down to Farnborough and there was this little jet thing sitting there and before I had even nibbled in the lemon of my gin & tonic the plane was landing in Deauville and there was Frederic with a French policeman, who looked at my passport and shrugged. Then Fred and I jumped into his Aston Martin Vantage convertible thing and drove off to some huge great chateau in the country where every dish included apples and there was Calvados to follow. And then he whisked me back to Deauville where he had booked two sea-view suites side by side in the Royal Hotel. We had a nightcap and he sent me off to bed, telling me to be ready to go to the beach at seven."

"Ah," said "The Mole. "He's a German count then." said The Mole.

Penelope giggled.

"And?" said The Mole.

"Well, we had an early breakfast and then we went for a lovely long walk on the beach, with the racehorses running up and down. Then we did a bit of sunbathing back at the hotel, had some white asparagus for lunch and then I put on my nice blue strapless dress and Granny's pearls and off we went to the racecourse for the afternoon to watch the Prix de Something or Other. Anyway, when I was there I got talking to this English type. Rather common actually. And he was asking me what I did for a living so I said I was in motor racing and he said that he knew this bloke who was something to do with the management of Jenson Button."

"Ah yes," said The Mole. "Just the kind of person one meets at a racecourse. Was he wearing a pork-pie hat?"

"No, I think it was a fedora," said Penelope. "Anyway, it turns out that he knows all about the business with Williams and how Jenson had got a bit fed up with BAR not paying him his bonus money which his guys thought had been agreed when Button signed for BAR in July 2002. He said that the dispute was over an awful lot of money because Button has scored so many points this year. I don't know the numbers but those sort of deals are usually about $50,000 a point and so if that was the case they'd be arguing over three million dollars, which is probably more than Jenson was being paid in salary. So the chance to sign with Frank for $5m and kick DR in the nasties was probably quite a temptation."

"I suppose that would explain it, wouldn't it?" said The Mole.

"Well, I thought so," said Penelope. "Anyway, The Count put ten grand on Somnus to win at 12-1 in the big race and the beast came through in the last furlong to snatch victory by a head. It was really rather exciting. After that it was back to the hotel for a couple of Pimm's and a divine dinner with champagne, oysters and lobsters with caviar and little chocolate things. It was just perfect. I was just about ready to throw myself at him when he said that we should go to the casino so he could blow a couple of thousand on the roulette tables. And after that he patted me on the bum and sent me off to bed like a nice Catholic girl."

"I think he must have a wife somewhere," said The Mole.

"Oh, they generally do," said Penelope.

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