Saturday, 19 June 2010

Modern Man

When I was growing up, I loved nothing more than thrilling tales of men facing death to protect the helpless, and especially if there was a natural history tie in.

So Jim Corbett's books on maneaters, and Kenneth Anderson's adventures with rogue elephants and bears, were always on my preferred reading list. Good books, well written, conjuring up a sense of what life was like for colonist and native alike.

Which brings me to their modern counterpart - the urban journalist. So the screaming headline "The terrifying night I, too, was attacked by a fox in my home" drew my attention straight off.

But oh dear, it doesn't really live up to its billing:
...nor should we be blind to the threat posed by increasingly brazen urban foxes. I should know, having nearly broken my neck when a fox attacked me in my own home.
Oooh! *gets popcorn*
And as for those who insist foxes will run away at the first opportunity, perhaps they could explain why it took me two full hours to eject this terrifyingly bold male from my house?
*hugs cushion as it gets scarier*
The experience, which unfolded in my Richmond home after midnight last autumn, was so unsettling that I eventually moved house to escape the memories.
*begins to wonder if she hasn't picked up a spoof article*
Before anybody jumps to conclusions, allow me to explain a little about myself. At 6ft 1in I am not a small man and at 30 years old a lifetime of dance training means I am light on my feet.
Err...
I can remember that night as clearly as if it was yesterday.

Arriving home after a jolly supper, I pulled up outside my house with a boot full of shopping. Stepping over the threshold laden with bags, I switched the light on and left the front door open while I made two more trips to and from the car.

The entire process took under five minutes, yet as I closed the door I had a feeling of unease. I started to climb the stairs, feeling even more unsettled, almost as if somebody was watching me.
The phone call is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!

Oh, sorry. Wrong genre...
Suddenly, with terrifying ferocity, a screaming ball of fur and teeth came flying towards my face. The impact - and sheer terror - sent me flying backwards on to the banister, which I only just managed to grab.
Ah. Right.

I was wondering how an animal the size of a large cat could possibly pose a threat of the neck-breaking kind...
As I flailed backwards, I realised that a fox was crouching on the stairs, wailing like a screaming child. All I could see were a pair of yellow eyes, fixed on mine, and a row of teeth.

Suddenly the fox - a rather mangy-looking male - shot down the stairs and into the sitting room. I hauled myself up and sat on the stairs, shaking uncontrollably.
As any fright would do to anyone. But then our hero picks himself up and goes off to do battle with his nemesis...
It was so late at night that I didn't know what to do, so I went to fetch a broom and slowly crept into the sitting room. The first thing which hit me was the stench.

Every surface, even the highest shelves, had been swept clear by the rampaging fox - and there he was, squatting on my sofa and soiling it. When I switched the light on he simply sat there, staring at me and baring his teeth.
And now we get to the meat of the story, as Ben battles heroically with the crazed animal, using the broom to keep the slavering jaws from his throa...

Oh:
I opened the front and back doors and attempted to chase him out with the broom, but he strolled past me and headed upstairs again to explore the rest of the house.

This cocky intruder then proceeded to enter every single room in turn as I pursued him with the broom - the bedrooms, bathrooms, study and kitchen were all marked in the same way, with his incredibly pungent odour.

And still he refused to leave via the open doors.
/facepalm
At one stage, he even crept under my bed and appeared to be trying to sleep there. My attempts to prod him out with the broom only provoked him into biting - he nearly snapped the handle and left a row of vicious-looking tooth marks.
Oh no! Now you're helpless!

Well, admittedly, not much more helpless, but still...
In retrospect, perhaps I should have called the RSPCA or even the police. But it was late and I felt faintly ridiculous - how could I, a grown man, not get rid of a fox no bigger than a springer spaniel?
Oh, man up, for the love of god!
It was only after two hours of cajoling that he finally left. All of a sudden he simply turned around and padded calmly out into the night.

Exhausted, I set about cleaning the house, but barely managed to make a dent in the carnage. Eventually, I fell into bed, still unable to escape the vile stench left by its droppings around the house, and lay there sleepless until dawn broke.
Can it get any better? Oh, yes:
But, silly though it may sound, nothing could shift the conviction that I was no longer safe in my own home.
HE KNOWS WHERE YOU LIVE!
Over the following weeks, I saw him dozens of times - sunbathing on a shed roof here, trotting down the pavement there.

He has a tuft of hair on his head and a distinctive strut - there was no mistaking the identity of my night intruder.
At this stage, I'm rather expecting to hear the scrape of nails on a blackboard...
As I drove home one night, he crossed the road in front of me and stopped, staring directly at my car. Shamefully, I considered for a moment pressing the accelerator and getting rid of my tormentor - but I couldn't do it and he lived to scavenge another day.

In the end, I was the one who moved on, away from Richmond and into an apartment - safe from visiting foxes.
It's a wonder he didn't install a panic room...
When I saw the damage that fox did to my broom - when I remember how close I came to breaking my neck when I was knocked down the stairs - I am left with the conviction that the closer we get to urban foxes the more incidents we will see.
Well, we will if people like you continue to prove themselves incapable of dealing with them!
They have a right to live alongside us, but this is getting far too close for comfort. The animal rights activists who attack Pauline Koupparis are woefully misguided. Two little girls' lives have been threatened and any self-respecting mother would do everything in her power to protect them.
I bet she'd do a lot better in such a crisis, too.

But more to the point, and while this is a very amusing article to ridicule, who, in their right mind, would write a column like this, oblivious to how it makes him appear?

Update: This was written on Thursday. And on Friday, what does Pavlov's Cat bring to my attention, but this story of a school apparently intent on turning out not just the next Ben Douglas, but an entire generation of them.

We're doomed, aren't we?

Update 2: Some people are totally unable to see a bandwagon go by without jumping aboard, and local newspapers tend to encourage this...

33 comments:

Quiet_Man said...

Jeez what a wimp the guy is, the reason the fox was baring its teeth at him is because it couldn't get out, any animal will turn aggressive if trapped. All they need is an escape route and no problems.
Dance training?
Yep, wimp.

Angry Exile said...

As they say in these parts, what a sooky la la. I've seen a cat - a bloody cat - take on a fox and win. After the hissing and bared teeth and hackle up showmanship the cat went straight for its face and drew blood, after which the fox fucked off over the road sharpish with the cat in pursuit. And a 6 footer who's armed himself (yeah, but as close as you can in Britain) with a broom can't manage.

Hand back your man card immediately, sir!

Jiks said...

Ohh the drama! How did he survive?

At least no one was there to see his humiliation ... oh wait, he himself told the world of his effete uselessness ><

Also "Arriving home after a jolly supper" ... I think that in itself requires the wearing of a pink dress for the rest of his days nevermind the fox incident.

Rightwinggit said...

Our Cat regularly take on foxes..the fox always backs off, especially when they come up against our female.

Rightwinggit said...

Cats plural.

Stewart Cowan said...

This fox sounds like my Jack Russell cross, and he gets very cross sometimes. The family across the road are scared of him and they have a Rottweiler.

Still, there should be fun and games here if an intruder ever breaks in.

Mike said...

I read mostly Beano or Wizzer and Chips. Now I only read you blog Julia, note comment 'on collateral dammage' post

Falco said...

Its vermin, if it becomes a problem then make an effort and kill it. Why is this in any way problematic?

Anonymous said...

...............a lifetime of dance training..........

Christ (Allah) on a bike!

Trevor said...

He was left with a foul odour pervading his bijou little residence?
Who knew the whiff of desperation could be so pungent? It certainly wasn't testosterone.

Pavlov's Cat said...

perhaps I should have called the RSPCA or even the police.

They wouldn't do fuck all either, both lot's having become increasingly risk adverse as well. They'd probably stand on a chair clutching their petticoats alongside this Not-A-Bloke waiting for the lion tamer from Billy Smarts Circus to arrive.

Unless of course the fox mentioned it was planning to leave some money to the RSPCA in its will and then they'd sue the householder.

And if on leaving it travelled faster than the posted speed limit, the police would fine it.

ta for linkage

English Viking said...

Dance Training? Must be a gayboy.

He should have beaten the mangy thing to death with a hammer.

Hexe Froschbein said...

And your point would be?
Lots of people would not know what to do -- I guess you'd crack open the cat food for it eh?

And not all foxes are wimps either, besides, there is *always* the possibility that it's rabid, especially with this kind of behaviour.

All it takes is some idiot to smuggle their pooch to France and back, and have it bitten by a rabid fox, dog, rat or frog... and the incubation time is 1-3 month, and the UK will have rabies and DEFRA will cull every pet they'll find (check on their emergency plans, it's grim reading)

So far, the UK has been very lucky, in fact, it's the 10th world wonder that rabies has not found it's way here yet. When it does, you'll have a town full of rabid foxes within a very short period of time -- people start trapping and shooting them now.

Indyanhat said...

With his/her dance training surely he/she should have been qualified to make a fox-trot...but then I suppose it takes 2 to tango...
seriously if you are cornered in your own bijou palaceby a ravening reynard arm yourself with some ground pepper from the kitchen and douse the little f*cker with it (try not to get it up your own shnoz) and whilst its sneezing its head off boot the little twat up the jacksie and out into the street, do not wear your ballet slippers for this unless they are health and safety approved ones with steel toe caps! Job done!!!

Woman on a Raft said...

What he needs is a Border Terrier.

James Higham said...

When I was growing up, I loved nothing more than thrilling tales of men facing death to protect the helpless, and especially if there was a natural history tie in.

All in a day's work,Julia.

JuliaM said...

"Jeez what a wimp the guy is..."

Yes, I think removal of his Man Card is in order. What sort of circles does he move in, though, that he doesn't expect ridicule from his fellow 'men' for this?

"As they say in these parts, what a sooky la la. "

Heh! That's a new one. But it fits. :D

The Aussies sure have a way with words, don't they?

"Also "Arriving home after a jolly supper" ... I think that in itself requires the wearing of a pink dress for the rest of his days nevermind the fox incident."

I bet his sub-editor had a fit of the giggles pressing 'submit' on this one...

"Our Cat regularly take on foxes..the fox always backs off..."

Yup, every fox tale in the nrwspapers gets the 'They ate my cat!' story. Yet no-one has ever filmed this (the BBC unit set up to follow urban foxes would surely have done so?).

I don't doubt they'd take a rabbit-sized kitten, if the mother wasn't around, or scavenge road-not-quite-kill, but an adult cat, with teeth, terrifying war cry and pointy ends on all four limbs, is more than capable of backing down a fox...

JuliaM said...

"This fox sounds like my Jack Russell cross, and he gets very cross sometimes."

Heh! Not as cross as the border terrier in WoaR's comment... ;)

"I read mostly Beano or Wizzer and Chips. Now I only read you blog Julia..."

Cheers! ;)

"Who knew the whiff of desperation could be so pungent?"

Smells like...defeat.

"They'd probably stand on a chair clutching their petticoats alongside this Not-A-Bloke waiting for the lion tamer from Billy Smarts Circus to arrive. "

It's a wonder we managed to survive cave lions and short-faced bears to populate the globe, isn't it?

JuliaM said...

"Lots of people would not know what to do -- I guess you'd crack open the cat food for it eh?"

Hardly. Feeding them is a good way to encourage them to view the garden as 'their' territory.

"And not all foxes are wimps either, besides, there is *always* the possibility that it's rabid, especially with this kind of behaviour."

You'll note that that wasn't a concern for the authorities with the foxes they trapped and destroyed (an exercise in futility - all that will do is clear a territory for this year's cubs to thrive) in the garden after the 'attack' on the twins.

In other countries, that would indeed ring alarm bells in a wild animal.

However, most urban foxes are quite blase about humans. Not so much so that an aggressive posture won't send them scampering.

I doubt poor journowimp can summon up the necessary, though...

"So far, the UK has been very lucky, in fact, it's the 10th world wonder that rabies has not found it's way here yet."

And if (when) it does, we'll regret building that Channel Tunnel, won't we?

"With his/her dance training surely he/she should have been qualified to make a fox-trot.."

*groan* :D

"What he needs is a Border Terrier."

Fantastic anecdote! :)

"All in a day's work,Julia."

:D

Hexe Froschbein said...

"You'll note that that wasn't a concern for the authorities with the foxes they trapped and destroyed (an exercise in futility - all that will do is clear a territory for this year's cubs to thrive) in the garden after the 'attack' on the twins.
"

That is the tale the bunny-hugging airheads like to tell you -- "don't bother doing a thing to defend yourself, you cannot beat the system."

Back in ye boring olde reality, if every block of houses puts out a couple of traps and keeps shooting the caught beasts, within a short while, the fox supply will go down considerably.

And yes, I know the authorities are not so worried about rabies, then again, DEFRA never is worried in the slightest about the consequences of applied stupidity, they'll just totally borg you when the shit hits the fan.

And the way you put the word 'attack' in quotes - do you doubt that the little girls got mauled?

Actually your thinking here is a nice demonstration of the thinking patters that happen in lefties when they try to tell you that a) jail does not work b) it only happen very rarely(that makes it OK you see, mustn't overreact) c) it's not so bad to get raped/burglared/mugged, at least no-one died and in WWII life was much tougher anyway, don't be such a wimp.

JuliaM said...

"Back in ye boring olde reality, if every block of houses puts out a couple of traps and keeps shooting the caught beasts, within a short while, the fox supply will go down considerably."

Well, yes. But the reality is:

a) you won't get every house to do this. In fact, you'll get Neighbour Wars as the bunny huggers descend en masse on the 'kill 'em all' crowd, and

b) until you remove the food source, you are merely engaging in a wat of attrition.

NuLab's (now the ConDem's) slop bucket idea for food waste is suddenly looking like an even more daft idea than we thought, isn't it?

How many people will say 'Sod this for a game of soldiers - I'll just leave this chicken carcass and lamb leg bone out in the garden for the foxes' instead?

"...DEFRA never is worried in the slightest about the consequences of applied stupidity, they'll just totally borg you when the shit hits the fan."

Now, that's certainly true.

"And the way you put the word 'attack' in quotes - do you doubt that the little girls got mauled?"

No, I don't dount they were injured, perhaps as it attempted to pull them out of their cot.

I rather doubt maneating is going to be the default fox behaviour, however.

"...a nice demonstration of the thinking patters that happen in lefties when they try to tell you that a) jail does not work b) it only happen very rarely(that makes it OK you see, mustn't overreact) c) it's not so bad to get raped/burglared/mugged, at least no-one died and in WWII life was much tougher anyway, don't be such a wimp."

Well, b) and c) are at least partially true, aren't they?

I think if we could bring someone who'd survived the Blitz forward into 2010, they'd laugh themselves into a coronary at the sorry tale of Ben Douglas, Man of Inaction...

Hexe Froschbein said...

Put up a bounty on every fox tail, that'll sort the problem of not enough people culling them. If you do that, foxes will be history within a few weeks in London.

"I rather doubt maneating is going to be the default fox behaviour, however."

Well, they certainly eat small defenseless things. And as we now know, attacking babies is within the range of their behaviour.

Asked another way, at what level and frequency of baby mauling would you start to get active? Btw, the behaviour of wild animal also changes over time and foxes, due to being fed and socialised are clearly changing their ways. Remember, foxes are highly adaptable, which means they learn and most likely pass on what they've learnt to their cubs as they bring them up.

Besides, how much paranoia will the danger cause people in general? How many will be afraid to leave the baby in the garden for fresh air now? And so on. Another bit of life quality gone.

Furor Teutonicus said...

a lifetime of dance training means I am light on my feet.

That explains it. A bloody puffter.

Angry Exile said...

Hexe Froschbein @ 19 June 2010 20:32"...there is *always* the possibility that it's rabid...
All it takes is some idiot to smuggle their pooch to France and back, and have it bitten by a rabid fox, dog, rat or frog...
So far, the UK has been very lucky..."


Not so sure that it's all luck. I'd heard that rabies is mostly in the fox population and that France at least, but I think a few other W.Europe countries too, have been dropping vaccine doped food all over the place for foxie for years. It's far from eradicated, yes, and I get the impression rabies in bats is going to be a real bugger to fix if it can be done at all, but it's not the scare that it once was. You don't get rabies shots to go on a Calais booze cruise, for example, and you don't hear about rabies outbreaks in European nations. Wouldn't be surprised if this is another one of those 'more likely to be hit by lightning' things.

Like the cat food idea though. Keep the fucker occupied while you get something to smash its head in.

Angry Exile said...

Oh, forgot to mention that I like the bounty idea even better. That's something I think should be tried here to deal with all the foxes, rabbits, pigs, toads etc. Actually I've a feeling it once was but people complained. Must look into that. Anyhow, stuff the bunny-huggers, since they clearly need to be told to make a bloody choice - let the native animals die or grow a set and waste the unwanted non-natives. The only problem is that I doubt there's actually enough ammunition in all Australia to deal with it all.

Furor Teutonicus said...

From 2005, but the situation is, if anything, improved.
http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=575
Several countries in Europe have been designated rabies-free jurisdictions: United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece, Malta, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland.[1]
Germany
Nine deaths from rabies were reported in Germany between 1981 and 2005. Two were caused by animal bites within Germany (one fox, one dog), and four were acquired abroad. In the
United Kingdom
The rabies virus was eradicated from the UK early in the 20th century.
Since 1902, there have been 26 deaths in the UK from rabies (excluding the European bat lyssavirus 2 case discussed below).[12][13] A case in 1902 occurred shortly before the eradication of rabies from the UK, and no details were recorded for a case in 1919. All other cases of rabies caused by rabies virus acquired the infection while abroad. Sixteen cases (62%) involved infections acquired in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.
Since 2000, four deaths from rabies have occurred; none of these cases had received any post-exposure prophylactic treatment. In 2001, there were two deaths from infections acquired in Nigeria and the Philippines. One death occurred in 2005 from an infection acquired by a dog bite in Goa (western India).[12][14] The most recent case was a woman who died on 6 January 2009 in Belfast. She is believed to have been infected in South Africa, probably from being scratched by a dog. Prior to this, the last reported human case of the disease in Northern Ireland was in 1938.
A rabies-like lyssavirus, called European bat lyssavirus 2, was identified in bats in 2003.[14] There has been one case of a bite from an infected bat, but the victim showed no symptoms of the virus and was vaccinated quickly as a precaution.[citation needed] In 2002, there was a fatal case in a bat handler involving infection with European bat lyssavirus 2; infection was probably acquired from a bite from a bat in Scotland.
Benelux
The Netherlands have been designated rabies-free since 1923, Belgium since 2008. Isolated cases of rabies involving illegally smuggled pets from Africa, as well as infected animals crossing the German and French borders do occur.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevalence_of_rabies#Europe
As to bats;
http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/documents/368/bat-rabies-scot.pdf

Furor Teutonicus said...

Angry Exile said...

I think should be tried here to deal with all the foxes, rabbits, pigs, toads etc.
20 June 2010 17:36


Toads are an amphibian/Reptile(?). They do not get, or carry rabies.

Only mammals.

Angry Exile said...

Furor, I'd gone past rabies with that comment. I was saying that I like the idea of a bounty for the various unwanted species such as rabbits, foxes, pigs, camels and cane toads, in Australia should be tried. This isn't to eradicate rabies or even a host species for rabies because there isn't a rabies problem here - it's to eradicate species which are a pest in their own right. Cane toads don't need to carry rabies when there are so many reasons for Australia to destroy them all anyway. Foxes, and sadly for me as a pet owner, feral dogs and cats, hunt native prey species and consume resources needed by native predators. Rabbits, camels and pigs do the same for herbivore natives, and I believe are loathed by farmers for the destruction they cause. Then there are the non-native plant species that are classified as 'noxious weeds'. Plants like the blackberry bush..... and they don't carry rabies either ;-) but there's a good reason for getting rid of them all the same. Though as I implied I suspect eradication is probably an impossible task with or without a bounty.

Furor Teutonicus said...

"Feral" dogs (If you take wolves as dogs) and cats ARE native species. Unless you happen to let a Siamese moggy roam the streets.

Plants. Aye Rhodebloodydendron. That Queen Mother type was a cow for that.

A whole mountain side near her castle in Scotland (Glenfekinmorangie, or something equally as ridiculous) destroyed by the bastards that escaped from her gardens.

Angry Exile said...

""Feral" dogs (If you take wolves as dogs) and cats ARE native species."

In Europe, yes. In much of Asia and N America, yes. Down here, nope. I'd agree with anyone who says that dingos should be given a pass even though they can be vicious sods since their introduction was thousands of years ago. Closest you get to a native cat here is an animal called the quoll, and predictably enough it's a marsupial rather than a eutherian.

Perhaps we're slightly at cross purposes, here. I'm talking about eradication/reduction and bounties to encourage it here in Oz. As I said in reply to Hexe Froschbein, who brought up the subject of bounties:

"... I like the bounty idea even better. That's something I think should be tried here to deal with all the foxes, rabbits, pigs, toads etc. ... The only problem is that I doubt there's actually enough ammunition in all Australia..."

I certainly agree that there would be no point in doing so anywhere that's always or nearly always had a wild population, but I'm talking about doing it where species were introduced quite recently and never existed before. I know people who were alive before the first cane toad was set loose in Queensland, that's how recent we're talking about. The bastard things are now knocking on the door of Kakadu half way across the continent. Other species have been here longer, but for obvious reasons none (dingo excepted) were here before 1788. Personally I'd say the foxes are as good a place as any to start.

Ironically Australian species can be pests elsewhere. Ask a New Zealander what they think about possums. I think they're protected here but the Kiwis turn them into hats.

Hexe Froschbein said...

Well, that didn't take long:

Toddler attacks fox...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1288279/Three-year-old-boy-bitten-fox-school-playground-party.html

All this baby violence against harmless wildlife... tsk, I'm shocked.

Btw, I don't think that foxes suddenly are attacking, it's just that people have decided to not take it seriously so far and only just started to think about the problem, after all, it's just an annoying, uncouth baby/toddler, occupying a house/school built on the poor foxes' rightful territory, and as you see from the comments, a lot of people think the toddler should've known better than to brutally abuse the poor innocent fox and deserved to get bitten for his bad manners.

Foxes 3 Children 0

8():

Angry Exile said...

And right on time, The Daily Mash.

JuliaM said...

"Ask a New Zealander what they think about possums. I think they're protected here but the Kiwis turn them into hats."

Very nice hats, too!

"Well, that didn't take long:

Toddler attacks fox.."


Or, as anyone not employed by the MSM would view it 'Toddler approaches wild animal, inevitable happens'.

And yes, expect more of these stories. And you're right, not because foxes are suddenly turning 'savage', but because they are suddenly news.

This is the MSM in full cry, galloping after their quarry, jumping obstacles and having a frightfully good time into the bargain.. ;)

"...and as you see from the comments, a lot of people think the toddler should've known better than to brutally abuse the poor innocent fox and deserved to get bitten for his bad manners."

If someone had filmed it, it would probably have made its way to 'Animals Do The Funniest Things!'.

"And right on time..."

Oh, god, how I love 'The Mash'... :D