When black is white

The Colonel (The Mole's next door neighbour and a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party) had decided that they should have what he called "a boy's night" and had invited The Mole and the Reverend O around to his house for his "famous turkey curry". The turkey in question had seen service throughout the Christmas holidays and The Mole felt obliged to raise the question of whether or not the meat was still safe.

"Since medieval times man has been using spices to hide the taste of rancid food," roared The Colonel. "I am sure we won't die. When I was in India we used to eat the most horrid stuff."

"Sounds delightful," said The Mole, but he knew he could hardly refuse. Mrs Mole had disappeared off to see a distant nonagenarian relative and Mrs Batty the cook was visiting her sister Beryl in Brighton. Even the Penelopes were away, spending their holiday seasons with their Mummies and Daddies.

The Mole was alone, and without excuses.

And so it was that The Mole ended up eating a rather yellowish and lumpy dish which came with bananas, hard boiled eggs and a few cold peas. This was washed down with beer which, The Colonel declared, he had picked up last Spring when visiting Belgium for the annual Dead Rat Ball. This, he explained, is the highpoint of the Ostend social calendar.

"An event which no doubt bursts with Flemish charm," said The Mole.

"Absolutely," said The Colonel and went on to explain that his ambition is to one day be named as one of the 133 knights of the Confraternity of the Dead Rat, an honour bestowed for those who have performed great services for tourism, gastronomy, the arts and journalism in relation to the town of Ostend.

The Colonel obviously decided that discussing dead rats while eating curry was not a good idea and so turned to Formula 1 and the Reverend O, who had grown rather pale, was delighted to join in.

"The thing I don't get is this business about safety," said the Reverend. "Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Max Mosley insist last year that F1 was too dangerous and that the speeds had to be cut. He would not take no for an answer."

"He did." said The Mole. "This year we will have engines and tyres which last longer, which will slow the cars down a bit. But he did not seem to think this was not enough and insisted on new engine regulations for 2006 as well. When it was suggested that it would be wiser to regulate the tyres he said that he wanted to do the engines first and that the tyres would easily follow."

"OK," said The Reverend, "so explain this to me: he got the automobile companies to back down on the issue of engines in 2006 just before the World Council in Monaco?"

"That's right," said The Mole.

"So that was December 10."

"I suppose so," shrugged The Mole.

"Well, this is what I don't understand," said The Reverend. "He won the engine battle and he then had 21 days in which he could have changed the tyre rules for 2006. Nine of the 10 teams wanted it. But nothing happened."

"I had not thought of it like that," said The Mole.

"Probably went on holiday," said The Colonel. "That is what these F1 types do. Jordan's future is up in the air but that did not stop EJ from going off to Barbados."

"Maybe Max was on holiday," said the Reverend, "but that is hardly the action of a man who is fighting day and night for a safer Formula 1. Is it?"

The Mole shrugged.

"Well, the way I see it," The Reverend went on, "the only conclusion that one can draw from this is that safety was not the major objective. He had the chance to do something and he did not take it. So was it really just a power game? Could it be that Mosley simply does not want to agree with anything that the team bosses put forward?"

For a while they were silent.

"You know," said The Mole finally, "if that is the case, the best strategy for the team bosses is to propose things they do not want and allow Mosley to block them. And then they must object loudly to things that they DO want in the hope that Mosley will force them to accept it."

"They've all gone mad!" said The Colonel. "You see why I worry about the future of the sport."

The Mole smiled.

"Perhaps," he said. "But I think the first thing we should worry about is this curry."

The Reverend turned pale again.

"Could I have another beer?" he asked.

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