The Mole returns to actionJanuary 2, 2012
The Mole stood by the window of his office, looking out over the River Thames, towards the horridly-named Millbank Millennium Pier. A sleek Tate to Tate river bus was heading off towards the Houses of Parliament, but the sight of the Victoria Tower and Big Ben in the distance made him wince. Mrs Mole was rather keen to become Lady Mole, and there had been nothing in the New Years Honours List. Having a CMG was all very well, but a chap needs to end his career with a KCMG if he is to hold his head up at The Travellers.
The Motor Racing and Trade Development Department, of the Secret Intelligence Service, formerly known as The Motor Racing and Tinpot Dictator Department (MRTDD), exists to ensure that Britain’s motor racing industry continues to lead the world, even if it means sticking a spanner in the works of foreign teams. The government has nothing against foreigners buying teams and leaving them in England, but silly ideas such as starting a team in Spain or the United States of America have been “actively discouraged”. Fortunately, such efforts thus far have been about as successful as the Spanish Armada and the Alamo.
The Mole and his agents are also tasked to try to keep “the bad guys” out of the sport, to ensure that the sport stays solid so that Britain can continue to rules its waves. The Mole himself defines what constitutes “a bad guy”.
For the last couple of years, he has been very happy with the state of Formula 1. British-based teams have won the last three Constructors’ titles and all is well. There is a certain irony in that Jean Todt, who led the Ferrari challenge to British domination, has now become very useful for The Mole, as his handling of the Formula 1 world has been rather more satisfactory than the latter days of Max Mosley, when things were rather more frenetic. The Formula One Teams’ Association has helped, although The Mole never trusted Ferrari to play fair.
“Italians don’t play cricket,” he said, when questioned on the subject.
But, for whatever reason, F1 has had a couple of years of compromise and serenity. This coincided with the arrival of a new “C” at the end of 2009, which meant a change in priorities, and there was further realignment when the coalition government arrived in the Spring of 2010.
The Mole and his operatives were directed to pay a little more attention to Trade Development and spend less time on Motor Racing. The German Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) was even asked to look after the Gribkowsky Affair.
The new SIS boss – Sir John Sawers – was a few years younger than The Mole, but he was a proper spook. He had served his apprenticeship in such places as Yemen and Syria before moving up the ladder to Pretoria, an ambassadorship in Cairo and then a period as Britain’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. The Mole had done similar work in North Vietnam early in his career before embassy postings in Moscow, Berlin, Geneva, Prague, Paris and Nairobi before moving into a “softer” role with MRTDD. He rather missed the F1 involvement, but the department had done much to develop trade in places where it is easy to get a suntan.
Penelope (Roedean), The Mole’s gorgeous deputy, had taken the opportunity to get what she called some “marital bliss”, by marrying a chap from the Grenadier Guards. He seemed to be made of the right stuff until she discovered that he had been “shagging some bint in Aldershot”, after which Penelope (Wycombe Abbey) had had to talk the far-from-blushing bride out of shooting her husband in the gonads.
Since then she had given up on romance and was focussed 100 percent on her work, which (secretly) delighted The Mole as he lived in fear of losing his girls to the breeding classes. Penelope’s moment of glory had come when she suggested that they use her recipe for cupcakes, when the techies attacked an al-Qaida website which was trying to teach radical types how to make bombs in their kitchens at home. A great deal of sugar was subsequently wasted.
Penelope (Cheltenham Ladies College) was still climbing mountains and flattening her men in karate sessions, but she remained as lovely as Athena, and as asexual as ever.
Penelope (Wycombe Abbey) still looked as though butter would not melt in her mouth, but could still shoot like sniper, fence liked a champion and continued to have the most outrageous expense claims. Her air of innocence and her natural blondeness still made her a devastating agent, particularly when her steely grey eyes were at full power. Since her return from Libya – with a terrific suntan – she had caused any many a young SIS officer to walk into pillars at Vauxhall Cross.
Penelope (Benenden), the bookish one, was still smouldering away behind her glasses… quiet and forever angry that her real name was Jane and she was not as pretty as the others.
The weekly meeting began with The Mole’s Personal Assistant Miss Pringle-Featherby (of the Berkshire Pringle-Featherbys) rounding up the agents. Penelope (Cheltenham Ladies College) and Penelope (Wycombe Abbey) steamed into The Mole’s office like a pair of battleships in search of a convoy, while Penelope (Benenden) arrived, her head in a report about Venezuela’s President Hugo Chaves. There was a suitable pause and then Penelope (Roedean) made her entrance, reading a copy of Guns & Ammo.
“What’s up Doc?” she said, with her customary twinkle.
“Well,” said The Mole. “The powers-that-be are officially worried about Williams. This is one of the cornerstones of the industry and it has all gone horribly wrong. Ninth in the Constructors’ last year and now Patrick Head is departing. Something needs to be done.”
“I could shoot a couple of them,” said Penelope (Roedean). “It is a fairly obvious case of a team that has lost its focus. It needs a leader and FW seems to have become more of a figurehead these days. These young chaps don’t seem to have much idea.”
The Mole winced.
Penelope was on a roll.
“Did you hear how it was that Sam Michael was able to get out of contract early and start working for McLaren at the end of last year?” she said. “Apparently, after he was axed by Williams, he went out to lunch one day and, as luck would have it, went to the same restaurant as Williams chairman Adam Parr, who just happened to be having lunch with Kimi Raikkonen. They found themselves in an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” situation. Most amusing!”
The Mole smiled.
“The team has everything it needs to be successful,” he said. “What is missing?”
“Easy,” said Penelope (Benenden), without even looking up. “The team needs Adrian Newey. It is obvious, isn’t it? Newey made his name with Williams in the 1990s. It went downhill after he left. He has since made a success of McLaren and Red Bull Racing. He left McLaren a little later than he ought to have done, but it would be absolutely right for him to quit Red Bull after three consecutive titles. The Austrians are not going to give him a share in the team, are they? He may say that he doesn’t want another challenge, but he’s still only in his early fifties and he’s going to get bored doing nothing. If Williams offered him some shares, a pile of money and a chance to do it all again, it could be the crowning achievement of his glittering career in three to five years from now. Remember, he left the last time because they would not give him shares in the team. Hell, they are handing them out these days. If Patrick Head is gone and his shares are up for grabs, then I am sure that the partners could muster 10 percent between them to give Adrian a reason to join.
The Mole paused.
“Utterly logical,” he said. “Good thinking. I must call FW.”
“Oh,” said Penelope (Roedean), with a naughty grin. “Can’t I have a crack at Adam Parr. I just love those floppy locks.”