Watching the foxes – and the Standard

It’s a shame that the poor old urban fox is still being demonised, especially when it’s our wasteful lifestyles that lead to them being there in the first place. It’s a relief to hear that the Victoria Park “urban fox hunters” video turned out to be a gigantic spoof, but more of that later.

In the meantime, the influx of young foxes onto the streets have given me a few moments of pleasure. Where they’re still young, they haven’t quite learned the fear that most foxes have, where they’ll hold your stare for five seconds then dash off.

A few nights ago I stood and watched a cat chase a fox through the roadworks barriers at the top of my road. Neither animal seemed to notice they were being watched, and the fox looked baffled when the cat gave up the chase. I wish I’d grabbed a photo, it stayed staring at me for long enough.

On Saturday night, just after the big downpour, I was walking along the section of Charlton Road opposite the Springfield Estate, where front gardens are raised above the road. I saw a pair of eyes staring out at me in the dark and jumped… only to realise it was another fox, peering out and not knowing what to make of this idiot with an umbrella. I did manage to get a photo this time, though.

I suspect there’ll be a few more weeks of this as the foxes grow and learn their territory. But such joys aren’t shared by the Evening Standard’s old guard. Here’s Londoner’s Diary* editor Sebastian Shakespeare (not many of them at my school) a few hours before the urban fox hunt hoax was revealed

Those urban fox killers are a perfect (or imperfect) example of Cameron’s Big Society in action.

Dave wants to empower communities to do things for themselves. People power, he calls it, redistributing power from the government to the man and woman on the street. “These are the things you do because it’s your passion,” says the PM.

Well, you can’t accuse the fox killers of lacking passion.

There is no denying they are performing a public service. It is about time we learned to be big enough not to have small feelings about foxes. They are pests. And as we now know they have changed their habits and started attacking children. (more)

He later went on to fantasise about killing a fox with a baseball bat. “I too want to mash their brains out — especially after one swiped my leather sandal from under my nose in my aunt’s garden in Barnes.” Doesn’t your heart bleed for hard-done by Sebastian and his leather sandal, eh? It’s possible that Sebastian Shakespeare is actually a spoof character himself, but I’ve checked on the internet and I’m afraid he’s not a made up person.

With the Standard’s news output improving, it’s sad to see the paper’s one-time nasty, snobby attitude still represented in its pages. I’d suggest Shakespeare and his ilk are more of a threat to our city than the poor fox will ever be. Perhaps the urban fox hunters should head to the Standard’s Kensington HQ and with a bag of fake P45s and film the results. Now that would be a home movie worth seeing.

(*Yes, it is spelt that way – it is a diary supposedly written by “The Londoner”, not a diary for Londoners. Which still doesn’t explain why it is packed full of nonsense about chinless wonders that no real Londoner gives two tosses about, but it does provide a training ground for young journalists, and the offspring of old journalists.)