Last week in Lowestoft was very cold and wet. Heigh Ho - at least it gave me a chance to write up the story of the Angel of Inverness, which is probably one of my most scarey encounters with the supernatural and the forces of good and evil. I write my 'main' pieces very slowly - unlike this more relaxed scrawl - in consequence I was working very late one night (well it was around 4.30am), to try and get the atmosphere of the river banks in Inverness 'just right'. I had been typing for around four hours, when I decided to have a cigarette break at the doorway of the guest house I was staying in. My digs were situated on a long road, lit with sodium street-lamps (which I always find very lonely), but the night was peaceful and still...
...I suddenly (and quietly) became aware of a form moving along the footpath opposite me. It gave me a quiet thrill to realise that the silver-grey apparition was a fox - an urban fox - living with and yet separately from civilisation.
I stayed very still, making sure that I didn't look directly at the fox and at the splendid tail or 'brush', which seemed almost as long as the animal itself. Then the fox stopped just opposite me and started to eat something it had found in the grass verge by the road. It was a great sight - the fox continued to rustle and scratch around, looking for all the world like a grey phantom, when I made what could have been a fatal mistake - I flicked my cigarette...
...Two sharp eyes looked across at me instantly...two sharp eyes stared and concentrated to detect any movement...any danger.
I looked across at the fox and then slowly and deliberately turned my head away and looked down the road. I could see the fox looking at me out of the corner of my eye. For a moment all was still and then the fox recommenced the search for food. For a while, all I could hear was rustling and scratching and then a tiny chewing sound reached my ears. I looked across at the fox; my gaze was returned by a simple stare - again stillness - and then the fox returned to the matter in hand. I was allowed to look. I was accepted.
I was relating the event to Liz at the weekend, when she promptly showed me this picture of 'Cousin Jean' and her pet fox. Just look at the direct stare of both the fox and the lady.
They really 'know' each other. I realised I had previously thought that there was a clear distinction between human beings and animals, in that 'they' do not like being stared at, but that 'we' do. It seems to me there is no real difference at all. After a careful ritual of slowly glancing then looking away, performed with easy but neither quick nor slow movements, the fox had either accepted me within it's territory, or had acknowledged that I was within my own territory (the doorway) and that I was not going to attack or in any way intrude into the fox's domain.
Let's face it (literally) - try staring at another human being..!..unless you know them, you could be in serious trouble. ("Who yuh lookin' at Buddy?) On the other hand, lovers spend eons of time looking into each others eyes. I can see a lot of love between Cousin Jean and 'Foxy'.
Foxy was brought home to Jean as a baby in a jacket pocket and lived for over ten years - but I will not tell more, as 'Cousin' has agreed to write-up an account of, not only Foxy, but all the other foxes she cared for over the years. I'll publish it on this site when it's ready.
Liz and Cousin Jean went on a tour of the Lake District, courtesy of their Senior Citizen's Bus Passes, all around Windermere, Coniston and Ullswater. Liz has always been an enthusiastic photographer; it was our mutual hobby when we were young and she came back from their Safari with lots of great shots. She had tried to take several shots of a scene, to get a panoramic effect, not realising that I could merge them in Photoshop (she hasn't seen the shot below yet) - I think she'll be delighted. I may try to get rid of the dark patch in the middle of the shot, but I think that was the effect of the sun through the clouds. I love it when cloud-shadows sweep across a landscape.
Finally, do have a try to outwit, or at least have a converstion with the Artificial Intelligence character at the top of the sidebar, or the larger version below. I'm trying to build up the intelligence database. All conversations are recorded, but IP addresses and other details are not, so your conversation is monitored but anonymous. At the end of each week, I will scan the conversation 'scripts' and add information where the character's knowledge base is insufficient. If you give your name, the character will remember it for the session only, but can relay personal messages to me. If the feature proves popular, I will leave it up for several months and try to accumulate masses of data about spiritual and general conversational facts and knowledge. and also unusual and funny events. I hope it will become an unusual but useful, animated encyclopedia. I also hope to compile a script of excerpts from the conversations recorded. if you tell the character if you are unwilling or willing for anonymous excerpts to be compiled for a future post, or if you are happy to have your name used (you'll have to type it out if you want to be a star) I will quite literally get the message. :)