Fox or against?
Plus London's best building
It’s Jubilee week, which means that for many people it’s a three day work week. We’ll be publishing as normal, with issues on Wednesday and Saturday (see below for more on what’s coming on Wednesday), but however you’re planning on celebrating, have a great time and try not to overdo it on the coronation chicken.
Red in tooth and ‘aww’
Urban foxes are having a bit of a moment. To be fair, this happens every few years as the news cycle begins to slows down for the summer and editors realise that foxes can be cute and aww-inducing as well as ferocious and agh-inducing.
The case against
If you’ve been in London for more than ten years then you’ll probably remember when a four-week-old baby in Lewisham was dragged from his cot and bitten on the hand by a fox. At that point Mayor Boris Johnson got involved, declaring that “we must do more to tackle the growing problem of urban foxes.”
Of course nothing happened, so the rubbish-eating, sex screams and garden shitting only got worse. As of 2020 the London Wildlife Trust estimated that there were something like 10,000 foxes in the city, “and individuals have been spotted in the choir stalls at St Paul's Cathedral, Parliament Square and outside 10 Downing Street.”
Last month, one Maida Vale man named Steve made national news headlines when he told reporters that he’d “not slept properly for two-and-a-half years” due to noisy fox shagging outside his window. Steve had “asked Westminster City Council for help” but wasn’t exactly sure what they could do.
A few weeks ago, the Telegraph dedicated an entire article of close to 1,000 words on whether pissing on your garden is a good fox deterrent or not. The article is paywalled but the TL;DR is that the London Wildlife Trust has declared that the “wee rumour is true” but only if it’s a man doing the weeing. While “professional fox controllers” say it doesn’t work (probably because they’re fed up of going to gardens swimming in middle aged man piss), and something called the Mammal Society, said it depends on the individual fox. Meanwhile David Tennant swears it works as long as you’re “consistent”.
The case for
Whoever is managing the foxes’ PR is doing a great job. Less than a decade ago they were dragging babies out of cots, now they’re the star of celebrity tweets, photo exhibitions and beautifully illustrated hardback books.
Florence Wilkinson’s book, Wild City, Encounters with Urban Wildlife (published last month) reminds us that our vulpine friends struggle to survive longer than 18 months in cities because they keep getting run over.
While Fox: Neighbour, Villain, Icon created by photographers Neil Aldridge, Matt Maran and Andy Parkinson promises to “shed new light on this enigmatic and misunderstood animal”. Matt made a small film with the BBC where he explained how and why he takes such incredible images of the foxes, and if you want to try it yourself he broke down his methods for Amateur Photographer (there’s some great images in that article too).
Whatever your thoughts on foxes, just be thankful that we don’t have gangs of armed people running around shooting them (along with squirrels and rabbits) in an attempt to win cash prizes (yes, we’re talking about America).
Coming up on Wednesday… 🪧
In our mid-week issue we’ll be talking to award-winning documentary filmmaker, author and lecturer Morag Livingstone, about the new book she’s co-authored, Charged: How the Police Try to Suppress Protest and the history of dissent in London, from Brixton to Black Lives Matter.
If you want to read that and all the other paywalled articles in our archives then you can become a paying subscriber for just £5/month or £50/year:
The London building of the year is…
…the Sands End Arts and Community Centre in South Park in Fulham.
The Royal Institute of British Architects announced the prize last week and it seems pretty well deserved. Sand Ends is not only beautiful, but over a third of the building material is composed of recycled materials. Even the bricks are made from upcycled landfill material
And if you’re into your buildings, a reminder that the London Festival of Architecture starts on June 1 and runs through the whole month. The 2022 programme is here and it includes rocking benches, an interactive walk of Hackney Wick to explore how the area was changed by the Olympics, and… erm, “a specifically curated screening of short films, documentaries and TV episodes that explore the world of steam bathing from various viewpoints.”
5 little bits
The strike that was due to happen at Euston and Green Park on Friday has been called off. The walk out was part of a row over management bullying, but the RMT suspended the strike “following negotiations with Transport for London”.
The latest proposals to try and get Hammersmith Bridge operational again involve charging drivers to cross the bridge. According to the Telegraph, “thousands of drivers are to be slapped with a daily toll to pay private investors who may fund the bridge’s long-awaited refurbishment.”
The victims of the 1972 Battersea Park funfair disaster (which happened exactly 50 years ago today) may be getting a permanent memorial. The mayor has said he will work with (the now Labour) Wandsworth Council to look at putting a memorial in the park. If you’re unfamiliar with the disaster you’re not the only one, it’s London’s ‘forgotten tragedy’. Here’s a quick BBC segment on it from last month:
The Barbican’s largest property has gone on sale for £4.5 million. For that you get a five-bedroom flat with a private courtyard garden, 16ft ceilings and “original iroko-wood flooring and bush-hammered concrete walls” (not sure what that means exactly, but it sounds good).
It was London Comic Con over the weekend. Bleeding Cool has shots of all the cosplay that was on display across day one and day two (which get bonus points for featuring cosplay on the Elizabeth Line).