THE MOLE

Accentuating the negatives

The Mole has been unable to keep up with his duties as chronicler of the slightly demented world of Formula 1 motor racing because of the government's lack of interest in the subject. The Mole was so upset that he even suggested to his friend The Mandarin that he should become the SIS chief in charge of the Olympic Games. He would thus be showered with as much money as he could possibly want. As the government's leading (one might argue only) defender of the British motorsport industry, the last weeks have been depressing as the industry has had to deal with the onset of the global recession. The Mole's main task has been to try to safeguard the British Grand Prix, which has been looking decidedly shaky ever since Bernie Ecclestone did his deal with Donington Park. To make matters worse The Mole has discovered that "the Commies down at the BBC" (as The Colonel calls them) have tried to usurp his position by inventing their own F1 Mole.

"It's a bloody disgrace!" said The Colonel, when he and The Mole found themselves together the other day in the local pub.

"Well," said The Mole. "They are all going to make it to Broadway in the end."

"Broadway?" said The Colonel.

"Yes," smiled The Mole. "It's a road in Salford. They are sending most of the BBC up there in a couple of years from now. Flogging off the TV Centre and sending the luvvies to regenerate the industrial north."

"Oh good show!" said The Colonel. "Splendid."

The Mole's biggest problem is one that he cannot discuss with The Colonel. At Mole Manor life goes on much as always with Mrs Mole doing good deeds and Mrs Batty the cook producing wonderful food, while also helping to single-handedly solve the problem of the European Gin Lake. Alas, government cutbacks finally deprived The Mole of the services of Oswald, his chauffeur. He was recently transferred to "The Pool" and now drives a variety of SIS officers about London, collects their dry cleaning and so on. The Mole either has to drive himself to work, which means that he wastes three or four hours every day (depending on the traffic) or he must brave the trains, which is not much good from where he lives as it involves a drive through the woods by way of Colekitchen Lane and Honeysuckle Bottom to Horsley and then a rattling train ride through Cobham, Oxshott, Claygate, Hinchley Wood and other such places, until he finally arrives at SIS headquarters in Vauxhall.

Of course, he cannot pull out his secret papers on the train, for fear of foreign agents. So he does the crossword and the sudoku and wastes available working time.

"I think you should get a motorcycle," said Penelope (Cheltenham Ladies College), with her usual ethereal coolness. "That would get you here quickly enough."

"Yes," said The Mole, "but I still would not be working on the journey. How can one promote and defend the national security and economic well-being of the United Kingdom when one is stuck in traffic?"

The four Penelopes were much as ever. Beautiful, one and all, and busy making sure that all goes well for the British in F1.

They were all in their weekly meeting, deciding what to do in Monaco, but the conversation had drifted to more general matters.

"I thought it was a great idea to get rid of Honda," said Penelope (Wycombe Abbey), from beneath her honey-coloured bob. "Now our chaps at Brawn GP can take all the credit, using the money Honda spent. Wonderful! And maybe we will get a small British team winning the World Championship with a British driver. That would be brilliant publicity."

"And a hunky World Champion at that," said Penny (Roedean), who remains in search of a soul-mate. "I think Jenson is gorgeous."

The Mole ignored the banter. He was pondering whether or not it was good for Britain to have Ferrari in F1. In the end he concluded that the team is so popular that it is a good thing for it to remain, as it reflects well on all the other teams, particularly if Ferrari is losing. Max Mosley would be foolish to let them leave.

"What about the British GP?" said Penelope (Benenden), looking over the top of her glasses. "What can we do to save that?"

That was the question.

"Perhaps the answer is to try to get rid of as many of the European races as possible," said Penelope (Roedean). "As each one disappears there will be more pressure to keep the traditional races. And the British GP is top of the traditional list. So we want to wipe out at least one of the Spanish races and we need to make sure that Hungary drops out too. We don't want the French back in either. I think the Germans are going to run out of cash on their own, so really we have to work on the Spanish. They should not have two races."

"I would not worry too much," said The Mole. "That race in Valencia will take care of itself. I understand that Francisco Camps, the leader of the Valencia regional government, has been indicted by the Valencia High Court in the last few days. It is all part of that big corruption scandal. He must present himself to the court tomorrow to answer charges that he received backhanders in exchange for government contracts. They keep hinting that the America's Cup and the Grand Prix in Valencia could both be a part of the scandal. Well, of course, he says he has nothing to hide and the best that judge Baltasar Garzon can come up with was that he got a load of fancy suits for free. Garzon claims that Camps received these suits from Alvaro Perez, an event promoter, in order for him to gain lucrative contracts to stage special events for the regional government.

"And, to make matters worse, it seems that the race in Valencia last year lost several million dollars and there are serious worries about tickets sales this year as well. Spain is in a big recession and you saw what happened in Barcelona the other week. The crowd was way down on normal."

Things did not sound very good.

"Perhaps," said Penelope (Roedean). "We need to look at trying to stop the USF1 team. We don't want them coming over and advertising the fact that there is a strong motorsport cluster in the US that can compete with the UK."

"We will have to see," said The Mole. "I am not sure many of these new teams will ever appear. I don't think there is enough money about."

May 18 2009

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