FoxedSep 26th, 2007 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Personal Columns
The Upper Churchtown Road is very busy, as anyone who uses it will vouch. It is four lanes wide for much of its length and demands much jockeying for position at the point where it narrows. It is not a place where one encounters much wildlife, being deep within suburban Dublin.
Driving along it this morning, heading for a meeting in Rathmines, I listened to the reassuring tones of Lyric FM, a Dvorak piece. Coming towards me on the pavement on the left-hand side, at 1020 in the mornng, was a fox. It cantered along before dodging to the right at the end of a wall along the road.
I rubbed my eyes and pinched myself – this was the second fox in a dozen hours. I must have imagined it. So convinced was I that I must be imagining things; I searched the Lyric Fm website to see if they actually were playing Dvorak at 1020.
Words of Tom Stoppard came to mind. For his character, Guildernstern, a creature sighted by two different people is as alarming as it gets. Presumably Guildernstern would concede that seeing a creature on two different, unexpected occasions, is similarly alarming.
“A man breaking his journey between one place and another at a third place of no name, character, population or significance, sees a unicorn cross his path and disappear. That in itself is startling, but there are precedents for mystical encounters of various kinds, or to be less extreme, a choice of persuasions to put it down to fancy; until – “My God,” says the second man, “I must be dreaming, I thought I saw a unicorn.” At which point, a dimension is added that makes the experience as alarming it will ever be. A third witness, you understand, adds no further dimension but only spreads it thinner, and a fourth thinner still, and the more witnesses there are, the thinner it gets and the more reasonable it becomes until it is as thin as reality, the name we give to the common experience… “Look, look” recites the crowd. “A horse with an arrow in its forehead! It must have been mistaken for a deer.”
Checking biblical references, foxes appear seven times; four times they are destructive, once they are devious; and twice Jesus speaks of them as having somewhere to go; none of which gives any meaning to the encounters.
I think I shall drive with my hands over my eyes.