Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Thursday, 18 May 2017
What is a fox?
At the moment I am making a fox using plaster of Paris with a polystyrene core. Once approved, the fox will be turned into bronze.
It must be foxy, but not Disney. I find that I must have thought about foxes quite a lot over the years, because I instinctively know if I have hit upon the essence of fox. I have been stared at by foxes a lot over the years too, so I bet they instinctively know the essence of human.
Hunting enthusiasts waged a propaganda war against foxes during the run-up to the hunting with hounds ban. The old stereotype of the wily killer kept coming up, and I would try and take some of the emotion out of the argument by pointing out the essential wildness of our wild dogs, and how most truly wild animals don't mix very well amongst us when there are imbalanced concentrations of humans, both in towns and the country.
"If you had seen what that fox did to our Pheasant chicks last night, you would not talk about it like that," was the usual response.
"What were you going to do with them once you released them into the open?" I know they were not going to tear them to bits with their teeth. They have much more efficient ways of killing them.
If a fox breaks into an unnatural enclosure containing more birds than it could possibly eat in one week, its response to the panicking creatures which flap against the wire fence in an attempt to escape is to kill every one of them until the commotion ceases. If it was as wily and conniving as folk lore has it, it would take one quietly and return every night until the food source ran out.
If it was as wily and conniving as us, it would probably breed them itself in wire enclosures, then it really would begin to wear hats, jodhpurs and waistcoats like the old cartoons.
One thing I have realised is that foxes do vary in size quite a lot, from massive old dogs to slim young females. A bit like us. I want my fox to be life-size, but an adult would be too big for the environment, so it is going to be a juvenile on the verge of adulthood. More than a cub.
"What makes the difference between an adult and a cub in the sculptural sense?" asked a friend of mine, "Is it cuddliness?"
I thought about it and reluctantly came to the conclusion that he was probably right. That mixture of big paws on a small body, wide eyes, puppy-fat and a fresh inquisitiveness in a new world all add up to something which could be described as cuddly.
The thing is that us humans are conditioned to respond to these qualities in the very young with a strong sense to protect - unless we are psychopaths.
Foxes do not always respond to these innate defence mechanisms of the very young, but they are not psychopaths. They are foxes.