THE MOLE

Crecy, Agincourt, Poitiers and Thieux

It was Friday afternoon and the girls were discussing the relative merits of thigh and hip holsters when The Mole came striding into the office.

"You just cannot wear Chanel and Smith & Wesson," said Penelope (Wycombe Abbey). "It is as simple as that!"

The Mole paused, looked bemused, and then threw a glance at Penelope (Roedean).

"We must sally forth to France, my dear," he said. "Once more unto the breach and all that. The French need to be seen off again. You would have thought that after Agincourt, Crecy and Poitiers they would know better."

"Oh bother!" said Penelope (Roedean). "I was planning a bit of hanky-panky with my little guardsman this weekend."

"Oh," said The Mole.

"And," she added, "with the nicest will in the world, sir, you're not exactly a Guards officer with thumping great abs and far too much testosterone."

The Mole sighed.

"I suppose I have filled out a little over the years," he said.

"I don't mean you're not a darling and a thoroughly sexy thing," Penelope added quickly, "but a girl cannot go messing about with boss. Can she? It's just not very smart. And I really do quite like my little guardsman. I was really looking forward to a bit of slap and tickle."

The Mole frowned.

Girls these days, he thought. The things they say.

"I don't mind coming to Paris with you," said Penelope (Wycombe Abbey), from beneath her honey-coloured bob. "I don't have much on this weekend. What are we going to spy on?"

"Fields," said The Mole.

"Oh," said Penelope. "How nice. I will bring a picnic."

"It's probably not a great idea," said The Mole. "There are planes going over it all the time."

Penelope looked questioningly at her boss.

"Well," said The Mole, taking a deep breath. "This is the story. Back in 1979 there was an 18-year-old girl called Carole Le Fol. She was a biker of some sort and at that time the bikers of Paris used to meet up on Friday nights and have illegal races around the city's large wholesale food market, out near Orly. You know these places operate from around four o'clock in the morning until lunchtime and the rest of the time they are completely empty so the bikers used to come and race around. In one of these races poor old Carole was killed. There was an outcry and the French government decided that in order to stop illegal racing, it would build a circuit. It is right next door to Charles de Gaulle airport and it is called the Circuit Carole, after poor old Carole Le Fol.

"It was government land and the local council leases it and then allows a joint venture company called the Societe d'Economie Mixte des Pays de France et de l'Aulnoye to run operations. Over the years pressure has grown for the business park next to the airport to expand. At the same time the Circuit Carole has gradually deteriorated and at the end of last year the government published a report saying that the circuit should be moved to a new fandangled venue somewhere else to allow the exhibition centre to be expanded.

"But where?" said The Mole. "That was the question. The government concluded that the best place for this new circuit was near a very little village called Thieux. Right now this is farmland. It is about three miles from the end of one of the runways of Charles de Gaulle. It was reserved for a possible fifth runway for the airport but that plan has been abandoned and so it is available. The local mayor seems very keen on the idea. The site is more than a mile from the nearest house and with only 389 people in the commune, it is a pretty quiet place, apart from the jets passing overhead.

"It is also pretty well located because it is right next to a dual carriageway that links up to the Paris motorway network. There is even a brand new interchange. The mayor wants to add a 150-acre motorbike related business park as well but I get the feeling that the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile (FFSA) might try to get involved with all of this and convince the politicians to think a little bigger. You can build a track to help out bikers as part of a bigger and better development and, if you are really clever you can get someone else to pay for it all.

"The government report concluded that funding for the idea could come a joint venture involving the government, the local government, local businesses, hotel chains, racing associations and so on. If they are really smart they will try to involve Dubai's Union Properties which is looking for a venue for its European F1 theme park. Paris is a good location and while Disneyland is one option, there is a lot to be said for Thieux. There are, for example, 22,000 hotel rooms within easy reach of Thieux and more in downtown Paris. If you had a decent motorsport park and exhibition centre, then public transport could be provided at moderate cost because there are railway lines nearby.

"At the moment there are talking about a 12m wide circuit of 2.1-miles in length, with 40 big pits and a sensible paddock area. The track will be able to be divided into two independent circuits. A little more money, another half a mile of track and that would be perfect for F1. There is even talk that this might result in the Salon de l'Automobile leaving Paris and being relocated at Thieux.

"And that is why we have to stop it!" said The Mole. "We want the Union Properties money!"

May 22 2007

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