THE MOLE

We all make mistakes

It had all been a terrible mistake, The Mole concluded as he checked out of the Plaza Athenee, pausing only to wince at the bill. If only he and Isabelle had not gone up to his room with champagne and strawberries, perhaps things would have worked out better.

About half an hour after they had settled in, Isabelle snarled at him like a tigress.

"My God man, relax!" she said. "I am not going to jump on you. Don't sit there worrying about it. Enjoy my company,"

"I think I am very calm," said The Mole, but he knew it was not true.

It was, he admitted to himself, the end of a dream. Suddenly there was no pressure but at the same time it had always been nice to believe that a chap his age could end up with a woman like Isabelle. Alas, such pleasures are reserved these days for rich bastards and Grand Prix drivers. Once again, The Mole reminded himself to never feel sorry for an F1 driver, who could not find a drive in a Grand Prix car.

After that outburst they had a good time discussing the Renault-GM deal but at two in the morning, Isabelle yawned and got up, announcing that she was going home. She pecked him on the cheek and departed, leaving just a hint of Arpege hanging in the air. The Mole suddenly felt very maudlin and headed for the mini-bar, to drown his sorrows (well, dampen them anyway) with a brandy. He tried to think up some excuses as to why things had happened as they had happened but nothing sounded very plausible and he concluded that he was beginning to sound like a Grand Prix driver justifying a move outside F1 because he felt the need "to go racing again".

The Mole thought of several F1 driver coming to grips with that very problem at the moment and quickly fell asleep.

When he got back to England he still felt rather unsettled and so took the Monday off and informed Mrs Mole that he was going for a drive in the country.

"Yes dear," she said, as she did on most occasions when he asked something of her.

And so he took out the Alvis TF21 (with bodywork by Hermann Graber from Bern) and set off to enjoy a peaceful day out, carefully remembering to forget his mobile telephone. He thought perhaps he would go to Marlow but the traffic was light and he was there too early to stop and so he headed on to High Wycombe and was soon wonderfully and happily lost in the Chilterns, amid villages with absurd names such as Hotley Bottom, Askett and Clanking. From there it was on to the village of Stone and more country lanes until he arrived unexpectedly at Waddesdon Manor where he decided to take a tour of the old Rothschild place. Feeling a tad peckish he then pottered through the local villages until he found an ivy-covered pub that looked perfect.

"The Mole and Chicken," he read. "Apt. Very apt."

He had a thoroughly enjoyable lunch of roasted pig cheeks over a leek and potato mash and served with a red wine, plum and shallot sauce, while sitting on the terrace looking out over the valley of the River Thame, which should not be confused with the better-known Thames into which it runs. And there he ruminated about life, love and the universe and concluded that things were not that bad and that next week he would be off to the French Grand Prix which, for reasons that were hard to define, was always enjoyable. The sun would be shining. the countryside would be beautiful, the girls would be pretty and there would be fireworks and a Pink Floyd concert to transport him back to the days when life was more simple. And he concluded that even back then Isabelle would not have looked twice at him.

It was a moment of great clarity and he drove home rather happier and bumped in the Reverend O in the village. The Mole knew that the vicar had a secret, unrequited passion for Penelope (Roedean) and would understand his predicament. The story of O was a painful one and The Mole wondered if he might have wisdom to impart in these matters. In the end, after a shandy, O quoted from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3 and The Mole smiled.

"You know," he said. "I am going to recommend you to Bernie. Formula 1 doesn't have a priest of its own, like the championships do in the US. I wonder if we could convince Bernard to pay your expenses and give you a large consulting fee to attend all the races to care for the flock. F1 has lots of doctors, dentists, cooks, masseurs and washerwomen but there is no-one to look after their souls."

"Some of them, I fear, have been sold to the Devil," said the Reverend.

"Indeed so," said The Mole. "And anyway it would not work because Ferrari would insist on a Catholic and then the FIA would insist on unanimous agreements."

The Reverend laughed.

"Talking of which," said the Reverend, "I had the most extraordinary dream the other night in which Juan Pablo Montoya went to NASCAR. It was most odd."

"You're right there," said The Mole. "What a ridiculous idea!"

"Oh well," said The Reverend, "We all make mistakes, don't we?"

"You''ll be telling me next that Danica Patrick and Jacques Villeneuve are going to join NASCAR as well!"

July 11 2006

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