The thing that has most surprised me about Eastbourne has been the foxes. With the human population all abed by 10 pm, a few weirdos excepted, the streets around my building are absolutely deserted overnight. The odd car might pass by after 10, but beyond that, good night. That’s when the foxes take over.
They travel individually, silently and with great stealth when necessary. In a few weeks, I’ve identified at least six different animals making their rounds. To the right of my apartment block lie the Western Lawns, a series of open spaces that surround Martello Tower number 73, a circular defensive building put up to keep Napoleon at bay, now a cherished relic.
The foxes, I surmise, live in the bushes that surround the Western Lawns and lay low by day. At night, they come out to forage. The skinnier animals come earliest. They make their way down the Parade that abuts the beach, searching for dropped ice cream cones, discarded food, wounded pigeons or whatever else comes to hand, or in this case, paw.
At about 12:45 am, one larger animal makes its way from the Gardens across the road — carefully using the pedestrian crossing, which is hilarious since there is no traffic and it could cross anywhere. It glides around my building into the underground receiving and parking area of the appallingly ugly building next door that is the dead tooth in the otherwise flawless row of pearly whites that is the Grand Parade. I’ve not seen that fox come out of the Eastbourne Centre yet, although I have other things to do than wait for it (sometimes).
When humans appear, which is rarely, the foxes melt into the scenery. They don’t attack, or they’d be hunted down. Hunting foxes is no longer legal in the UK, thanks to Tony Blair’s class war on the toffs who were toffier than he was.
Whether the foxes that rule the night in Eastbourne do so more numerously as a result of Blair’s prejudices, I cannot say. I doubt it. They are urban creatures, the foxo-sexual community. I saw a fox in London’s Bond Street one morning, strolling along to all intents and purposes as if shopping for, erm, a fur coat.
I feel the same way about the foxes that I do about the people: if they stay away from me, I don’t much care what they get up to. But understand that may not be the majority view. The authorities must be aware of these night-time vulpines and consider them harmless. The Government is wiping out badgers in Britain, and they haven’t eaten anybody … as far as I know… !!
Live and let live, I say. If the foxes can enjoy East Borneo as much as I do, good luck to them. Mind you, they don’t pay a penny in taxes, and they eat for free, so they probably like this town even more than I do.