If tombstones had ears

"If tombstones had ears," said The Mole, as they were standing around gossiping in the churchyard after the 11 o'clock on Sunday.

"Bloody weird," said The Colonel. "Particularly at night!"

The Mole laughed. His ploy to change the subject had finally been successful, moving The Colonel on from his ranting and raving about the McLaren business, which had begun as they walked through the narthex at the end of the service, with the organ still burbling in the background.

The Mole had tried hinting, but that had gone straight over his friend's head. The Colonel was a military man, more used to barrages than to the subtleties of diplomacy. The Mole had tried the direct approach but The Colonel had ploughed on regardless, making some rather radical suggestions of things that should be done to members of the FIA World Council. The Mole heard the words 'electrodes' and 'testicles' but tuned out the rest of it, watching a golden leaf falling gently to its death amongst the graves of yesteryear.

"I don't get it," The Colonel had said. "Ron rings up Max Mosley and says that Alonso has some evidence about the espionage. How honest is that? And then Alonso retracts. But they don't all live happily ever after because 26 days later Max wakes up and starts asking questions. Now I understand it was the holidays and that the FIA is based in France but what was going on during those 26 days?

"And look at the transcripts," The Colonel had gone on to say. "Did you read a single comment from any World Council member other than Mosley? There were 115 pages of it and only once did a Council member other the President say anything. And that was the American chap called Nick Craw, who was on the end of a phone. And how many times did you read the McLaren folk complaining that the Ferrari QC was putting words in their mouths? Did you read that Jonathan Neale saying that he thought the questioning was offensive? The problem, Mole, is that this was not a proper court and Max Mosley is not the Lord Chief Justice."

The Colonel had hrmphed and said: "Well, it's all too much. I see what is going on and I think it is disgusting."

"Well I am glad someone understands," The Mole had said. "I do not understand the current FIA at all."

"I'm not going to explain it," The Colonel had replied. "You're the chap in the know. You should know."

"Indeed I should," The Mole said. "Taxpayers' money and all that."

"Right!" said The Colonel.

That was the moment when The Mole leapt in with his remark about tombstones.

Alas, it was also the moment at which the Reverend O spotted them and, dispensing with a granny who wanted to talk about transubstantiation, approached them, hoping that one of his friends would compliment him on the sermon or, at the very least, offer him an invitation to lunch.

The Mole noted that The Reverend looked like a man who knew that there was nothing in the cupboard at home apart from a can of tuna. He thought hard for a moment but could not remember one single word that the good Reverend had uttered during the sermon, except perhaps "Amen" and he was not even sure about that.

His only choice was to launch a diversionary attack and hope that The Colonel would not get back on the same subject again.

"So, O," he said. "What do you make of all this Alonso to Ferrari stuff?"

O looked to the heavens. This modern Formula 1 was not the sport of his childhood. These were not Jim Clarks and Jackie Stewarts. Why the FIA President had even called JYS "a certified halfwit" and that just did not seem like something an FIA President should be saying about a racing legend. It reminded him of an exchange of views way back when Mosley's predecessor Jean-Marie Balestre had recalled Jean Todt the "Napoleon of the Sands" - a reference to his involvement with Peugeot in the Paris-Dakar. And Todt had fired back that he preferred that to being labelled "the Emperor Bokassa of the Place de la Concorde" after some African dictator of the era. Mud-slinging. F1 today was about politics and money and ego. About people using the sport to satisfy themselves.

"Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim," he said.

"Sounds like a New York law firm," said The Colonel.

O ignored the remark.

"Is Alonso going to Maranello?" he said. "How perfect! I am sure they are made for each other. Any team that gloats about winning this championship in this way is not a team I will support. They need to take a new broom to Maranello and change some of the attitudes down there. It is just wrong. All wrong."

"What's the point of Alonso staying at McLaren when no-one talks to him any more," said The Mole, paddling frantically to keep the conversation afloat. "I think it is amazing that the team is helping him after the stuff that has been coming out of late."

"The World Championship this year is ruined as far as I am concerned," said O. "In fact I am not entirely sure that I will bother with the last few races. What's the point? McLaren is the better team and Ferrari has been given the championship. I'd rather watch Big Brother."

"Isn't he supposed to be watching you?" said The Colonel with a guffaw.

The Mole ignored The Colonel and looked at the Reverend O with compassion.

"Oh come on," he said. "Look at the fight for the title?"

"I don't care who wins so long as its Lewis Hamilton," O replied.

"And next year?" said The Mole "Imagine Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari. Lewis and Nico at McLaren. The Juggling Pole in a faster BMW. And Jenson is driving well and the Honda simply has to get better. And Williams is on the up again and maybe they will get some young charger. What about Tonio Liuzzi?"

"I could not care less," said O.

The Mole hated to see his friend in such gloom. Tuna is terribly dry on its own, he thought. He knew that Mrs Batty had roasted a vast chunk of lamb.

"You'd better come to lunch," said The Mole. "I cannot offer you a Penelope, but we're having lamb and I am sure that Mrs Batty won't mind."

“Mint jelly?" said The Reverend, perking up.

"The best there is," said The Mole.

"Oh Lord," said The Colonel, suddenly feeling rather peckish.

"That's my line," said The Reverend O.

September 26 2007

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