THE MOLE

Three blondes and an Alvis

"And I thought we were going to church!" said Penelope (Wycombe Abbey) as they hammered down the A3 towards Guildford on Sunday morning.

The Mole smiled. It is not every day that a chap gets three gorgeous blondes in his Alvis TF21 drophead (with bodywork by Hermann Graber from Bern) and sets off into the country for lunch. Sometimes to achieve such things one must use a little subterfuge.

"I am afraid that I had to use false pretences," The Mole explained. "I know that you lot like to go off and do wild things with guardsmen at weekends and this is the only way I could get you."

"Well, it's all right," said Penelope (Roedean), "all the best young guardsmen are in Iraq these days."

"And they are probably safer there," said The Mole, earning himself a sideways glance from Penelope (Wycombe Abbey) who had grabbed the front seat to save her honey-coloured bob.

"Does your wife know about this?" asked Penelope (Cheltenham Ladies College) from the back seat.

The Mole would liked to have replied in an urbane fashion, but his tongue seemed suddenly too big for his mouth and he became rather flustered as he tried to explain that Mrs Mole was busy doing some good service with the Old Trouts of Surrey organisation (He never could remember the name) and was happy as a skylark that he was busy. The fact that he had not mentioned three blondes was neither here nor there.

"If you try to lay a hand on any of us," Penelope (Wycome Abbey) said. "I shall tie you to a tree and use your kneecaps for my shooting practice."

"Well, I expect he'd enjoy the first part," said Penelope (Roedean), her hair streaming behind in the wind.

"I am afraid that if you do that I will scream rather a lot," said The Mole. "Never was one for heroics. We always used to leave that stuff to the Double Os."

"And a dull lot they are," said Penelope (Cheltenham Ladies College). "All testosterone and fancy suits."

The Mole relaxed a little.

"You see," he said. "The thing is that you have all done a brilliant job recently and you deserve a reward."

"And lunch with you is the reward?" asked Penelope (Roedean).

"Well, it's not me," said The Mole. "It's the lunch."

The girls nodded.

"You could have given us an MBE or something," said Penelope (Cheltenham Ladies College).

"So what did we do anyway?" said Penelope (Roedean), puzzling over what their great achievement had been.

"Well," said The Mole. "You all helped push those Mercedes-Benz people into deciding to move everything to the UK. That is a major triumph for us, you know. A while ago we were worried that they would take the whole Mercedes-Benz F1 engine programme and relocate it in Stuttgart. Now they are doing the opposite. The whole thing is moving to Brixworth. It's a great victory!"

"Not quite the Spanish Armada," said Penelope (Roedean).

"Well, whatever it was," said The Mole, "You were very persuasive."

"Oh, we are very persuasive," said Penelope (Wycombe Abbey), with a little twinkle in her eye. "And some of us can do it in German as well."

The Mole tried not to drool and concentrated on driving.

"So where are we going?" Penelope (Roedean) asked after a few moments.

"We're off to Lickfold," said The Mole.

"That sounds rather rude," she said with a little smile.

The Mole blushed.

"It is a place!" he said. "It's not near anywhere. The Lickfold Inn has an arbour in the garden, covered with wisteria and it serves Yorkshire Pudding with roast pork."

"Do we look like girls who needs Yorkshire Pudding?" said Penelope (Cheltenham Ladies College).

"I am not going to answer that one," said The Mole. "Whatever I say, I'll get into trouble."

And so they drove on, enjoying the sunshine, the precision-cut hedges and the blue-green Conservative signs that seemed in rooted in rather a lot of fields. There were Spring lambs waiting for the slaughter and occasionally an open-topped sports car would pass, coming or going, and the man would look forlornly at the Alvis with three blondes, earning himself a dirty look from his blonde trophy wife in the passenger seat.

It was a day to enjoy English placenames. At the Milford turn-off they headed off down the A283 to Witley and Wormley and Cuckoo Corner. They were playing cricket in Chiddingfold but the Alvis rolled regally on to Hungry Corner and Ramsnest. And then after the long drag up Cripplecrutch Hill - which was, extraordinarily, achieved without a single word from any of the Penelopes - they turned into the woods, following a sign to Gospel Green.

"Praise the Lord," said Penelope (Roedean). "I'm hungry."

From there it was just sun-speckled woodland until they arrived at The Lickfold Inn.

"My goodness," said Penelope (Wycombe Abbey), as they settled in to their table beneath the wisteria. "They really do have roast pork with Yorkshire Pudding!"

"And perfect crackling," said The Mole.

Even ice maidens melt when perfect crackling is mentioned and The Mole was impressed when all three ordered the pork.

The place was filled with cheerful pink-cheeked barmaids and they had a splendid lunch, helped down by a couple of bottles of Marlborough Sauvignon, although being the designated driver The Mole was left somewhat behind.

As the girls were working their way through excellent grilled bananas with toffee sauce and honeycomb ice cream, The Mole decided it was time to set them a new challenge.

"You really have done terribly well," he said, "but the next one is that we need to convince some manufacturers to fund Ilmor and Cosworth so they can build new F1 engines. It is such a waste to have two such fine firms with nothing to do in F1."

"Send me to Detroit," said a rather tipsy Penelope (Roedean). "I'll teach those GM people about Formula 1."

April 30 2007

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