The bus pulled up at the traffic lights at Dolphin’s Barn.
The evening had begun fine, but the clouds had rolled in from the west bringing cold and wet rain.
Through the rain spotted window, there was a glimpse of a shadowy figure. It wandered into the middle of the road, looked at something, and then scampered back to the verge as the lights turned green. Foxes seem to be learning the art of coping with traffic.
I remember an evening in Dublin, more than a decade ago. A friend phoned, looking for telephone numbers he needed in order to complete his application for the renewal of his firearms certificate.
“What do you shoot?”
“Not a lot. There’s about enough shooting for a pheasant each and then the farmer wants us to look for foxes. They don’t cause really cause much harm now.”
“Do you think not? It cost me €220 at the vet because one of our dogs had an infection that required an anaesthetic. The vet asked had we foxes. I told him there was one on the garden wall the previous week. ‘There’s the source of the infection’, he said.”
Discharging a shotgun in a built up area is probably illegal, but the foxes are everywhere now.
Coming out of Dublin’s most exclusive medical clinic on one occasion, passing between shiny Mercedes Benz and Jaguars, I had walked down a smart stone flight of stairs to the lower part of the car park and stopped with surprise. Standing not more than five yards away, heading towards the clinic, was a fox. The fox and I had stood and looked at each other.
“Do you not realize that it’s only nine o’clock in the evening and that this is an exclusive private hospital?”
The fox looked at me as though I was quite mad, put its head down and continued on its way, slipping into the darkness between shrubs and a brand new BMW.
The morning after the Blackrock encounter, I was on the Upper Churchtown Road. It 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, heading for a meeting in Rathmines, I was listening to Lyric FM, a Dvorak piece. Coming towards me on the pavement on the left-hand side, at 1020 in the morning, was a fox. It cantered along before dodging to the right at the end of a wall along the road.
I had rubbed my eyes and pinched myself, thinking I must have imagined it. So convinced was I that I must be imagining things, that I later searched the Lyric FM website to see if they actually were playing Dvorak at 1020.
Foxes appear seven times in the Bible: four times they are destructive, once they are devious; and twice Jesus speaks of them as having somewhere to go. None of which probably gives any mandate to fire a 12 bore at them, not that I have one, and if I had I would probably miss. The fox would just look at me with contempt and go on its way, the way that foxes do.