A trip to the embassy
APRIL 16, 2004
The Mole was rather irritated not to be invited to the official ribbon-cutting at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking. It might, he felt, have provided a chance to edge elegantly towards his K, the knighthood he was sure would one day come. When the invitation failed to arrive he concluded that others at the ceremony would be busy grovelling for their Ks so perhaps it was better NOT to be there at all. Besides, he said to himself, a tete-a-tete with the PM would be far more effective and that was bound to happen soon enough as there was bound to be a crisis about the British Grand Prix before long and The Mole would be called in for a quiet lunch at Chequers.
The good news was that The Mole did have someone at the McLaren "do". This was Dusty, The Mole's best resource. A few days after the function Dusty sent a letter addressed to Mr WH Smith at the Barristers Benevolent Association. This was the signal that he wanted a rendez-vous. Dusty will meet no-one other than The Mole and insists that before any meeting The Mole must go through a series of anti-surveillance techniques, involving at least one department store. Spooks love department stores. They are full of mirrors, have lifts which stop at every floor and doors which open on all four sides of the building. If you ever want to lose a tail, a department store is the place to go although, as The Mole tells all new recruits, Fortnum & Mason may be a lovely department store but man disguised as an old paratrooper can watch all entrances and exits from the corner of Piccadilly and Duke Street.
Dusty's note to The Mole was in a familiar format, a list of six numbers indicating the volume, the page, the column and the line from the Yellow Pages which would indicate the address of the meeting, followed by the date and the time. After decoding the message The Mole discovered that he was to meet Dusty at The Texas Embassy on Monday at 12.30. This seemed rather strange, but a search of the Internet revealed that Texas does have "an embassy" in London. It is a restaurant just up the road from the FIA Building in Trafalgar Square.
As he approached the building The Mole had a sinking feeling. It was not because the building had once housed the White Star shipping line and was where White Star had posted the bad news about the Titanic, but rather because it was a Tex-Mex restaurant.
"The food is very good," said Dusty, looking rather silly because he was wearing a fake moustache which made him look a little like a bank manager pretending to be a Mexican bandit. "I highly recommend it."
The Mole looked down his nose at the menu.
"For goodness sake," he said. "I am not eating at a restaurant which serves mole sauce!"
"It is pronounced Moe-Lay," said Dusty. "It is wonderful. You mix up some chilies with a hint of chocolate and serve it over chicken. Got more punch than a Mercedes V10."
"What hasn't?" said The Mole, rather meanly. "Perhaps you should order for me."
"Cadillac nachos for two followed by the chicken mole," said Dusty to a lurking waiter. "And two Cuervo Gold Margaritas on the rocks."
"And water," said The Mole, momentarily reminded of the Titanic. "Lots of water."
The waiter waltzed off (as some waiters do).
"I am sorry but I am not myself," said The Mole. "Ever since The Times became a tabloid I have been a little uneasy about everything and I'm really not a fan of Tex or Mex."
The Margaritas arrived.
"So what's the news?" said The Mole.
Dusty looked furtively around for a moment and then mumbled: "I've got the inside story from Woking and it's real soap opera. It all started this time last year when Adrian Newey started work on the MP4-19. You may remember the MP4-18 was breaking down every time it left the garage and the team was racing the old MP4-17D. Well, they get to October and there is a split: Newey wants to build a completely new car and some of the others want to turn the MP4-18 into the MP4-19, arguing that continuity and early development is the best thing to do. There was a bit of a stand-off, so they say, and then someone decided to overrule the technical director."
"Smart move," said The Mole, sniffing at one of the nachos, which had just arrived.
"Anyway, Newey figures they can all go and hang themselves, which they duly now. The MP4-19 is no good at all. Heads must roll. Newey rides into the factory looking like the US Cavalry with Nick Tombazis riding beside him while Martin Whitmarsh and Mike Coughlan find themselves surrounded, with arrows in their hats."
"Extraordinary," said The Mole. "No quick fix, I suppose?"
"A Newey revamp in July," said Dusty, "and a Tombazis car next year."
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