>Even before the recent attack just down the road in Hackney, there seemed to noticeably more foxes around than ever. (Incidentally, Hackney has a bit of a record of unfortunate incidents involving animals, not least the chimpanzee burglar.)
Where I grew up, on the edge of the Worth Valley’s endless moorland you rarely saw a fox, though there are local legends of them attacking humans, like Ted Hughes’ poem about the Midgely Moor standing stone Churn Milk Joan. Country foxes know Man is out to get them. Urban foxes have never been shot at, trapped or chased by dogs.
The foxes in our neighbourhood fear nobody. You see them all the time, often in broad daylight. A couple of weeks back I got up early for work, and a fox was sat right inside our front gate. He wouldn’t even move out of the way to let me get my scooter out. I could hardly run the blighter over. There followed a ridiculous Mexican standoff, with Basil looking at me with a “yeah, so?” look in his eye. After ten minutes I was about to get a water pistol when he trotted nonchalantly off. Leytonstone’s foxes are like those underage criminal kids who know the law can’t touch them. On these hot nights, sleep isn’t helped by them yowling from the roof of our neighbour’s shed.
Apart from the week or so after my mum and dad have done their terraforming on it, our garden resembles one of those patches of scrub found in the middle of council estates with a telephone box marooned on it. It’s not through lack of trying, but I’m lethal to plantlife. Consequently, we don’t have much out there to ruin, so it didn’t bother us much when the foxes dragged in these rather horrible shorts from God-knows-where, and tried to bury them in the veg patch. However, yesterday evening I heard our neighbour muttering darkly to his wife about “getting something done”. On sunday night a family of foxes devoured all his cucumbers – which I later found puked up in our front yard.