When we were in London several years ago, My Beloved Brit and I were walking back from a pub on a dark narrow street, and were surprised to hear a noise in the nearby alley. Looking down the narrow passageway, we saw a red, fuzzy tailed creature escaping from a row of trash cans. The London urban fox.
Great Britain and foxes have always been closely associated. The red fox is right in there with a cup of tea, the red telephone box and plaid wool. But to see one on a London street was really quite surprising.
The mammal is native to England, and English literature has always made room for the creature– from Reynard the fox in The Canterbury Tales, to Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. The Scottish heroine Isabel Dalhousie of Alexander McCall Smith’s “The Sunday Philosophy Club” novels, welcomes the stealthy presence of a fox in her garden in the city of Edinburgh. Perhaps to her it is a symbol of the wild traditions of the country.
Although the sport of fox-hunting was outlawed in England and Wales in 2005, some of the wily creatures still seem to prefer the cities to the open fields of the countryside. I must admit, London seems a pleasant place to live. I guess the little fox agrees.