We were spending a sunny weekend away when I received a surprise text from my neighbour, Sam: ‘There’s a dead fox poking out of your shed. Did you know?’. Just two days before, I had watched a vixen feeding her cub in broad daylight in our small garden. The next morning, she woke me at 5, yipping with her mate beneath my bedroom window. Skulking and scavenging, foxes roam our London streets in far greater numbers than ever before.
J assumed the role of chief pall bearer. He took a raggedy old blanket from the boot of the car, and gently wrapped the corpse. It was the cub I’d watched feeding and playing, easily recognisable by her dark tipped ears. Then he placed the cub in a green plastic gardening bag, and held it in his arms as he walked, almost as though he were cradling a baby. It was an extraordinarily touching sight.
The cortège had a short journey from home to a fly tipping black spot only 100 yards up the road. Job done, we scurried away like petty criminals before anyone could spot us. Fly Tippers Will Be Prosecuted. In the night the fox disappeared, reclaimed by its parents or a lucky find for a budding taxidermist, we never knew which.
As I write, I find myself listening out for the foxes’ cries in the dark.