When we moved to London I didn’t expect to have almost nightly sightings of a fox. The first time I saw this much written about urban animal was in our first week in the city. I was walking the terrier out at about ten o’clock. It was high summer and still hot and humid. First I thought it was another dog, but soon realised it was indeed a fox that was running along the pavement at the bottom of the little hill. My beast was on a lead, and I was glad he was restrained, because I knew if he was loose he’d be off after the fox straight away. Predictably, as soon as the terrier spotted the other animal, he started to pull on the lead. The fox, however, was totally non-plussed. It stood there, now a few metres away from us, victoriously watching my dog’s struggle to get to him. Just when we were about nose to nose with the fox (or my dog was), he turned on his heels and disappeared over a low brick wall.
Since that first night, I’ve seen a fox (same one?) a few mores times. This is far many more times than I ever saw one in the sticks.
Earlier this week, when walking in Belsize to my book group at England’s Lane Bookshop, there was another fox, jauntily crossing the road. I stopped to watch him swiftly climb a low wall and he turned to look back at me. There was only the empty road between us and as we stood there staring at each other I saw how healthy the animal looked: it must have rich pickings in NW3. Too late did I start reaching for my phone to take a picture – all I saw was his thick furry tail as he disappeared into a the garden of a posh modern villa.