Isabelle's bottom

Englishmen always seem to think that French girls are sexier than their English counterparts. The Mole has long felt this in the case of Isabelle, his spy at Renault. Slim, slightly boyish and wide-eyed yet mischievous, Isabelle knows that the men of the world look lovingly at her and she plays up it.

The Mole has often tried to find exactly the right word to describe her. She would be a "waif" but for a little extra sense of style and chic that moves her on to "gamine" status. But even that is not quite right. Being French, she is quite open about sex and enjoys the powerful feeling of being a predator, particularly when uptight Englishmen are around.

The Mole finds all this fascinating and admits, if only to himself, that he is more than a little in love with her, although this is a passive, avuncular kind of love. Safe, but with a frisson of danger.

In late July and August Tout Paris is down in St Trop and Isabelle was passing her days on the beaches and her nights in the restaurants and nightclubs with the crowds of other beautiful people. The Mole was called to the Villa Mole, a lovely spot, overlooking the Bay of Angels on the Cote d'Azur, where Mrs Mole had been for a couple of weeks, clucking over sun-kissed grandchildren. It was nice to be out of the English rain but after a day or two of chicken nuggets and pizza, The Mole claimed "government business" and set off in the old Renault 5 that sits in the garage and headed down the coast for a rendez-vous with Isabelle.

They had agreed to meet on a tiny beach just off the main road to the south of Miramar. It is a spot where few people go. There is just the winding N98 and the railway, which intertwine through a series of rocky bays. If one parks on the side of the road and finds the winding path down through the trees, one can find a tiny hidden beach.

The Mole arrived first, looking every bit like Our Man in Havana, with a Panama Hat and a linen jacket. And, of course, a picnic basket, into which he had loaded a few odds and ends he had found in a supermarche en route.

He had taken off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves before Isabelle arrived. She was bronzed and gorgeous, wearing a straw hat, a blue sun dress and not a great deal else.

"Hello darling," she said.

This confused The Mole for in their phone conversations "darling" was the code word for an emergency.

He pecked her on both cheeks and picked up a hint of Arpege, the only perfume for grown-up girls.

"How are you?" he said, as they settled down on the rug that The Mole had brought with him. He handed her a plastic glass of rose.

"Oh, you know," she said. "So-so. Not bad, Not ecstatic. Life goes on."

The Mole nodded.

"Oh," she added, with a little twinkle "I am deeply in love."

"Really," said The Mole, trying not to raise an eyebrow. "Any who is the lucky chap?"

"Cookie Doug," she said.

"I don't know him," said The Mole.

"You know the ice cream of Ben et Jerry," she said.

The Mole looked puzzled.

"You are in love with ice cream?" he said.

"Bah oui," she replied. "Cookie Doug."

"Oh, " said The Mole. "That is a joke. I see. But, my dear, it is pronounced 'dough'. Cookie dough, the U-G-H is silent."

"Merde! Les Anglais sont fous," she said. "This bloody U-G-H is impossible."

The Mole nodded.

"Yes," he said. "Not easy."

"Anyway I cannot get enough of your cookie doo ice cream," stressing the word, alas wrongly. "Can you not see that my bottom has grown?"

"I did not notice," said The Mole.

"Then you are not a man!" she said. "Everybody looks at my bottom."

"I did look," The Mole confessed. "I just did not notice it was bigger."

Isabelle smiled and they lapsed into silence. For a while they munched away on some baguette, exchanging just a few words.

"This Ferrari business is a big mess," she said,

"Even bigger than your bottom," said The Mole, with a completely straight face.

"You know Jean Todt wants to make a big thing about it," she said, ignoring the remark. "He is not accepting the decision of the World Council. But that is Todt. You know what he is like. It was the same when he was with Peugeot. He must always be right."

"Yes," said The Mole. "The problem is that whether he likes it or not Ron Dennis and the people around him at McLaren have a great reputation for honesty. Let's face it, if there is not enough evidence for Ron's big enemy Max Mosley to bust McLaren then there is not enough proof for anything. The World Council spent six hours going through it all and not even Mosley feels he has the evidence to punish Dennis. Anyway, we don't know all the details and to base opinions on what has appeared in the press is dangerous because this is clearly not all the information that exists. The information in the public domain comes entirely from leaks in Italy which have all the hallmarks of a 'trial by media'.

"Besides," he added. "I do not believe for one minute that anyone other than Mike Coughlan knew of the disks from Nigel Stepney until after Ferrari discovered their existence. The fact that Todt and Luca di Montezemolo are whingeing is to be expected. Bernie has called the whole thing "a nonsense" and no other major figures in F1 have said anything apart from Flavio. And they are not going to make him chief justice of Italy, are they?"

"I really believe that Ferrari does not really have a case against McLaren but is using every trick it can think of to try to disrupt the team," The Mole went on. "The real story is that Ferrari lost a bunch of points because of its appalling failure to properly maintain its windtunnel and is trying to get back into contention using this case: either to take points away from McLaren or to distract the team. When all is said and done, if Ferrari lose the World Championship the windtunnel incident will be what was responsible - and that will not reflect well on the Ferrari management."

"You are very cynical," said Isabelle.

"Don't you feel the same way?"

Isabelle shrugged.

"I don't care,' she said. "It is the holidays and I am having an affair with Cookie doo."

"Well," said The Mole, paternally. "Just think of your bottom."

I know I will, he added to himself.

July 31 2007

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