True gripes : Basil, please brush off

Urban foxes are a pain. Who needs them?

I am beginning to lose patience with these urban foxes. I don't mind foxes appearing in strip cartoons and having their own TV series, but I think it is time they learnt to stay in the countryside, where they belong. Their behaviour is quite unacceptable.

For a start, they bark in the dead of night and frighten the cat. No sooner have I put it out than it comes charging back in through the cat- flap with its tail all fluffed up. It refuses to go out on its own again and I end up having to accompany it outside before I can go to bed. Most inconvenient.

Worse, urban foxes are forever ransacking dustbins. This can cause undue stress. The first time I found rubbish strewn all over the place I thought, "Oh no! I've got homeless people living outside."

But the upended bin turned out to be the work of an urban fox. I passed him in the street the following night on my way home from the pub. The cheeky sod trotted past as if he owned the place. Now he is fully settled in and even seems to know which day the dustmen come round.

Where did all these foxes come from? There must be some terrible things going on out in the country for them to risk the inner cities. I suppose that the miles and miles of now barely used railway line must be the most favoured route. I read recently that the appearance of foxes is a good thing because it indicates the "greening of the cities", but I'm not so sure. The bits that turn green are usually plots of land that have been abandoned and become overgrown. They are full of foxes because no one else has a proper use for them. Urban wasteland.

I don't think my mother would see it as a good thing either. Not since she lost her ducklings. My mother has always had this thing about ducks, so she bought six ducklings and called them Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich. I think the idea was that when they grew up they would graze on the lawn and keep the grass short. They used to splash around a tub of water in the garden. Until a fox came in the night. What carnage. The only survivor was Beaky. I tried to take my mother's mind off the tragedy. "Ducks don't have beaks, they have bills," I pointed out. "Why don't you change his name to Billy?"

Well, I thought it was a good idea.

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