The negative effects of Pimms

The other day The Mole decided that he wanted to have a barbecue to celebrate the arrival of summer.

"Yes dear," said Mrs Mole. "Splendid. I will buy some sausages."

But The Mole would have none of it.

"Everyone has a boring barbecue in the summer," he said. "Let's be a little different. Let's have a Thai barbecue."

"Yes dear," said Mrs Mole, looking rather worried.

But once the decision was made there was no stopping The Mole who immediately set about reading the recipes of Colonel Ian F Khuntilanont-Philpott. Having done so he then disappeared off to Purley to find some bai horapa, an interesting kind of basil found only in Thailand (and Purley) which has a distinctive hint of aniseed. His aim, he said, was to make a perfect Gkai Pad Gkaprow, although he admitted later that he was not sure of the pronunciation. For an accompaniment he fell upon the idea of a little Pak Bung Loy Fa, simply because it sounded like fun.

These "Flying Greens" are traditionally cooked in a rather bizarre fashion, being tossed into the air from the wok when they catch fire. It is said that two brothers who had set up restaurants on the same street in Phitsannaluk found that the higher they tossed the Pak Bung the more people came to eat and so they began throwing the vegetable backwards and forwards across the street.

The Mole and Mrs Mole had a very enjoyable time throwing Pak Bung around the garden and there was even some left to eat when they had finished.

By then the guests were pleasurably relaxed having imbibed sufficient Pimms Number 1 Cup to blur the edges of the lawn.

It was at the time in a party when conversation becomes rather colourful as the defences are down and the tongues are loosened. As usual it was The Colonel who led the way into dangerous territory.

"So tell me Mole," he said. "What is this fellow Jordan doing taking legal action against Vodafone? It all sounds decidedly odd to me."

"Well," said The Mole. "It seems that Eddie really believes that he had a deal with Vodafone."

"A verbal contract?" said The Colonel. "Pah! Sounds very messy to me."

"Yes," said The Mole. "I think messy is probably a good description. The court case so far has been nothing short of an embarrassment for all concerned and for Formula 1 in general. Ferrari is furious because it is being dragged into the courts and has been accused by Jordan of allegedly blackmailing the team to try to stop the case by refusing to agree to the F1 'fighting fund'. I don't really see that myself because it is all part of the daily pushing and shoving in F1 politics. Why should Ferrari pay up for Jordan when EJ is stirring up trouble?"

"Did you see," said The Colonel, completely ignoring The Mole, "that a month after the supposed commitment from Vodafone Jordan went to Orange, Vodafone's big rival, and tried to sell them a sponsorship deal. I guess that would seem to suggest that Jordan was not exactly confident of the outcome with Vodafone."

"Quite," said The Mole.

"And did you know that the Vodafone QC even had the letter that Jordan sent to Orange!" said The Colonel. "Damned embarrassing, that!"

"Yes," said The Mole, rather regretting that The Colonel had had quite as much Pimms as he had had.

"And then to make matters worse he got one of Jordan's men to admit that he had misled Benson & Hedges," continued The Colonel. "I mean how frightful can this get?"

"Lovely weather we've been having," said Mrs Mole to no-one in particular. "Anyone want some more Pak Choy?"

"Pak Bung," said The Mole without thinking.

Mrs Mole smiled a glassy smile and picked a piece of greenery from behind her ear.

"Pak Bags..." she said.

Just as The Mole was about to come up with a witty reply, The Colonel started again.

"If you ask me Jordan is clutching at straws," he said. "He's a bit short of cash and he reckons that Vodafone might lob him $10m just to get rid of him."

"No, I don't think that is right," said The Mole.

"Well," said The Colonel. "It's damned tenuous."

The Mole decided that the subject had to change and the only way of achieving that was to take the initiative and lead the conversation elsewhere. He signalled to Mrs Mole to give The Colonel another glass of Pimms and launched himself into the defence of Eddie Jordan.

"Jordan can be a little bizarre sometimes," he said, patting himself on the back for his talent at understatement. "But I think he probably believes that he did have a deal. It is a rather innocent concept in a world where everything has to be written down. The trouble with putting things on paper is that they can come back to haunt you if they fall into the wrong hands but at the same time you cannot do a deal with a major corporation without a great fat contract and a great fat lawyer."

"I know some very nice lawyers," said The Colonel.

"So do I," said The Mole, "but that is not the point. If anyone thinks that a bloke on a mobile telephone and a few words in a notebook are going to convince Justice Langley, they are dreaming! Do you know that the judge in this case is not new to these sort of things. Not long ago he threw out a case in which the Football League claimed to be owed $280m by the backers of the TV company that was supposed to televise matches. After hearing the case the judge described the league's case as having been 'just as unpromising at the finish as it was at the start'. It was a nasty way of saying that the deal was a bad one. These judges do have a way with words.

"In that case there was written evidence of discussions of a guarantee from the parent companies of the TV station but that none of these were put in the final contract.

"The danger," concluded The Mole, "is that Jordan is going to end up paying the legal fees for all these QCs."

"Shocking!" said The Colonel. "It's absolutely outrageous what some of these chaps earn."

The Mole sighed with relief as The Colonel launched into a tirade against the legal profession.

"What do you call a boatload of lawyers going down in Mid-Atlantic?" he said.

"No idea," said The Mole.

"A bloody good start," said The Colonel with a guffaw as he had another snort of Pimms.

The evening had been saved.

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