The hiring of Dusty Road
AUGUST 26, 2003
Felipe Massa has recently acquired a new agent. His name is rumoured to be Nicolas Todt and, apparently, he has a very famous father who is employed by a car company in Maranello, Italy.
But Massa is not the only one. The Mole has also acquired a new agent although the new man in his life is not getting a percentage. He is well-placed in Formula 1 circles but must be known only as Dusty to protect his identity.
The story began when Dusty decided that he would offer his services to The Mole in the belief that motor racing should be more transparent in its dealings, just as Ron Dennis is always saying. Ron and his supporters believe in transparency but are only willing to discuss things in "the appropriate forum" (which means never). Dusty believes in freedom of information and publishing everything. Dusty contacted The Mole by putting an advert in the Time Out Lonely Hearts column after reading that The Mole prefers to hire female agents. His logic was that it might give him the chance to meet the famous Penelopes and that no-one in motor racing would ever admit to reading such a thing and so no-one would talk about it.
The Mole's secretary Miss Pringle-Featherby (of the Berkshire Pringle-Featherbys) was told about it "by a friend" and immediately took it to The Mole.
"F1 insider willing to be agent seeks Mole," it said. "Please reply in The Times".
There was a conference in the The Motor Racing and Tinpot Dictator Department and it was decided that the following message would be placed in the Personal Columns of The Times newspaper: "Moles likes Sage Derby at teatime on Thursdays. Perhaps Paxton & Whitfield has some?"
The Mole explained that Paxton & Whitfield never has any Sage Derby but that Number Two would pose as a customer and upon hearing the enquiry would suggest to The Target that he knew just the place to go. He would take the man outside and give him instructions. The Mole and Penelope (Roedean) would then tail The Target.
"I shall observe the rendezvous from a nearby coffee shop," said The Mole. "It's a strange place called Caffe Nerd. I guess it's for lonely Internet weirdos."
"Caffe Nerd?" said Penelope. "I don't think so."
"That is what it says on the door," said The Mole. "Caffe Nerd with two Fs."
"Caffe Nero," said Number Two, looking up from his crossword. "I made the same mistake myself. They have it written in capital letters. The O looks like a D."
"Oh," said The Mole and decided it was time to do some paperwork.
At 4pm on Thursday The Mole was sitting inside Caffe Nerd, reading a copy of Piccadilly Press, the parish magazine of St James's Church and keeping an eye on Paxton & Whitfield. At 4.01pm a man entered the famous cheesemongers, a favourite of Sir Winston Churchill.
"Do you have any Sage Derby?" he asked.
"Gawd blimey," said Number Two in a very dodgy Cockney accent. "It's hard to find vese days, innit?"
"Yes, it is," said the man uncomfortably.
"Vey don't have it here," Number Two went on. "You gotta go down to the end of the street and turn left. It's up on the left before the traffic lights. It's called Specialist Cheeses of St James's."
"Thank you very much," said The Target.
The Mole watched the The Target exit the premises. A moment later Number Two came out and headed off in the other direction. The Mole wandered out on to Jermyn Street and ambled after The Target.
There is no cheese emporium called Specialist Cheeses of St James's and so when The Target arrived at the place, he was confused. The Mole walked past him but the face meant nothing. Penelope was coming the other way.
"Over to you," whispered The Mole, indicating The Target with a nod.
The Mole paused to look in a shop window and watched the reflection of the reflection of the shop windows across the road. The man was heading back to Jermyn Street with Penelope behind him. The Mole scurried around the block, dived into the shopping arcade, took off his jacket and emerged back on Jermyn Street ahead of The Target.
It is a little known fact that one can tail someone more effectively whilst walking ahead of them, you simply use shop windows and peripheral vision. It is a point worth remembering when considering the recent accident at Hockenheim.
The Mole noticed that The Target was checking his tail a lot.
Penelope, sensing the danger, had crossed the road to avoid being spotted. The Target seemed to be heading back to Paxton & Whitfield but then he stopped, turned on his heel and began walking the other way.
"That old trick," said The Mole to himself as he watched the whole thing in the reflection of the window of a bathroom shop.
As The Target headed back towards Fortnum and Mason, Penelope re-emerged from a shirt shop. She was walking ahead of him. The Mole smiled.
"Such a clever girl," he said as he turned and walked the other way, turning into St James's church. He went through the church and then the market in the churchyard and emerged on Piccadilly, having again put his jacket back on. He expected to see Penelope and The Target emerge ahead of him as he was passing Hatchards but no-one came out of Duke Street and The Mole realised that they must have gone into Fortnums.
Years before when he was at spy school The Mole had been taught that the fastest way to lose a tail is to go into a department store. There are exits on all sides so one can get away very easily if being followed. But The Mole need not have worried. As he strolled through the tea department he saw Penelope ahead of him, looking so gorgeous that she could not possibly be a spy. She was closely examining a pot of mustard.
She indicated towards the Patio Restaurant with her eyes.
"Who needs a radio when you have eyes like that," thought The Mole.
The Target had decided to have a cup of tea.
The Mole climbed the stairs to the Patio, ignored the lady who came to greet him and walked up to The Target's table.
"Is there any Sage Derby on the menu?" he said and sat down.
"Are you The Mole?" said The Target.
"A friend," said The Mole.
The Mole ordered a pot of Sichuan Zao Bai Jian Congou tea and two Dusty Road ice cream sundaes. They began to talk. After a couple of minutes a letter was passed across the table.
"These are the details of the Jordan engine deal from Cosworth," said The Target. "Sixteen engines instead of 25, forty-four rebuilds instead of 90. A total of 60 engine lives instead of 115. There is a switch from the 72-degree V10 to a 90-degree unit at an extra cost of only $3.5m so the total bill is $17.5m. I would say it is a bargain, particularly when you remember that Ford Europe is paying up $5m in sponsorship as well."
"So EJ can get his engines next year and in 2005 for $12.5m," said The Mole.
"Read the last paragraph," said The Target.
It would have been silent but for the scratching of a spoon as The Target delved into the bottom of the sundae, looking for some more of the exquisite toffee sauce.
"Well, that is very generous," said The Mole, "Offering Jordan the same deal if the GPWC becomes a reality."
"But don't you see," said The Target. "It says Cosworth will supply all the engines needed to customer teams as long as the other manufacturers agree to subsidise their activities."
"Very sensible," said The Mole in as casual a fashion as he could manage. "Do you often get stuff like this?"
"All the time," said The Target.
"Well, I think we can do some business," said The Mole. "We shall call you Dusty Road, after this ice cream, and you can make contact with us by dropping off letters addressed to Mr W H Smith at The Barristers Benevolent Association in Grays Inn Square."
"That's a bit of an obvious name for a front organisation," said Dusty with a wry smile. "I mean, who ever heard of a barrister needing charity? Their bills are an outrage."
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