I have loved foxes since the age of six and still do to this day. I’m not sure whether this grew from catching sight of one during one of my Dad’s famous Sunday country runs in the car or through an appearance by Basil Brush on Crackerjack, but I very quickly grew to love them.
Around this time, my Mum told me of a woman who lived a few streets away from us who kept a caged fox in her garden. She said she would take me down to meet it. While there is a part of me that wonders if this really happened, what I do remember was how disappointed I was that the fox was timid, scared even, and not the playful, carefree scamp I had expected. I could see the fear in its eyes as it hid, shivering behind its brush. Even then, I think I understood that some animals can not and should not be domesticated and, some weeks later, my desire for a pet fox was eventually successfully sated by a guinea pig.
This Saturday, BBC2 showed a wonderful French film ‘The Fox and the Child’ featuring an unlikely friendship between a vixen and a young girl in the Jura mountains. There is an enchantingly simple story woven throughout the sublime nature footage and, as I watched the relationship between the titular characters grow on the screen, I couldn’t help but think back to my own childhood fox encounter. By the end, slightly shaken by the film’s climax, I knew that I’d made the right decision as a six year old. But, even now, those very few occasions where I see a real, live fox running free in the countryside are ones I cherish.
The Fox and the Child will be on iPlayer until 16th September. I heartily recommend it.