I get such a buzz seeing foxes running around the streets of London and this little sweet fella (girl?) which I photographed standing on the porch of a house in Holland Park this morning is no exception.
There are a staggering 10,000 urban foxes in London and while they’ve been immortalised in books, movies and even as TV personalities (think Basil Brush), most Londoners are ambivalent to these orange coloured urban dwellers and barely give them a second glance.
But not me. The first time I ever saw a fox in the flesh in London was my very first night in this city ten years ago – literally having only just arrived from New Zealand.
I’d walked to the nearby gas station in Chiswick to buy some milk and there was this scrawny looking dog sitting on the forecourt. Aw what a sweetie, I thought and sauntered over to pat it, whistling and holding out my hand as you do with stray dogs. But then it walked towards me stepping into the light and I realised my dog was in fact orange, very furry and had a bushy tail.
A fox! To me, it was like meeting a bear in the wilderness.
I screamed at the poor creature, which immediately stopped in its tracks, and legged it into the gas station. The only fox I’d ever seen was Basil Brush on the tele so you can imagine my surprise to see it in a gas station!
“oh my god, a fox, I’ve seen a fox!,” I exclaimed breathlessly to the nonchalant spotty young gas station attendant behind the counter. “I think it’s escaped from the countryside or something. Call the police or someone!”
The attendant gawped at me as if I was a martian. “Er, yeah it’s a fox. Lives in the park over the road. That’ll be 50p”
“For the milk, 50p for the milk”
“But shouldn’t we call someone? . . about the fox?”
He frowned at me and shook his head. “Bloody foreigners” I heard him mutter under his breath while a guy standing in line behind me sniggered.
I went bright red, paid my 50p and slunk out of the store wishing the earth would swallow me up. The fox was still sitting there, except he’d moved back into the dark beside a large wheelie bin. I smiled with glee. It was still exciting to see him even if he was just one of the locals.
Foxes might be a dime a dozen in London, but ten years on I still love to see them skulking around the streets – a flash of orange and bushy tail – expertly jumping over a wall or scuttling down the footpath. I think foxes are still wild noble creatures and to see them up close is intoxicating.
So seeing this morning’s fox on the porch in broad daylight in a posh part of London was extra special.
Especially as I wasn’t alone in my excitement.
An American man walking along the footpath was so excited to see the small wild animal on the footpath that his jaw dropped to the floor.
“OH MY GAD!! A fox, is that a FOX?!” he shouted. “That is SO COOL. Oh my GAD! That has made my day!”
It made mine too. . .