I have recently come to the conclusion that God has a good sense of humour which he executes with perfect, comedic timing. I did always suspect this, of course (someone HAS to be credited with how I wound up knowing the funniest person: my mother who has countless rip-roaring anecdotes up her sleeves) but, what with him being known for his more mind-blowing awesomeness, I'm afraid I missed the part of him that twinkles with humour.
Let me tell you why.
Some mornings ago, I was walking hurriedly to work for a 6:30am start. The alarm clock, originally set for 5am, had been sufficiently abused in the form of a hand reaching out of the warm duvet to slap it vehemently into snooze mode every ten minutes until 5:40 when the stern, no-nonsense part of my brain chastised its lazing sibling in a voice that brooked no argument, 'You need to get out of this bed right now!'
It meant that there was precious little time to rouse myself up, bathe, dress and gobble down scalding hot porridge oats (you know..because I'm not one to leave home without sustenance in the form of breakfast), before hitting the cold, dark winter morning.
Now, as a direct result of aforementioned state of hurrying, I'd raced out of the house without so much as a quick prayer of thanks to God for granting me another chance at life. And so, being the sort of person who randomly bursts into loud renditions of songs as I go about my activities, I hummed Ghanaian Gospel singer, Sonnie Badu's He That Dwelleth (Psalm 91) song, the quiet street echoing with my footfalls as I walked. (Because my still-slow brain knew singing loudly wouldn't go down well with sleeping folks along the street)
I was still walking, when from behind a battered car parked on a side street, a fox leapt out and startled the flippin' bejaysus out of me. Several things happened at once:
- I shrieked like a demented banshee into the still, quiet morning
- the irony wasn't lost on me that the creature had literally leapt out at the very same time I was uttering these words from the 91st Psalm: 'For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler..' (Good one, God)
- the above words died immediately on my lips, to make way for the first reaction: the shriek
- of all the panicked thoughts that raced through my head within those seconds, the most ridiculous was a very silly, 'I'm a Wulff. You need to be very afraid, fox.' Or some schmuck like that.
Except I was the one pissing bricks.
The encounter must have taken all of six seconds, either because foxes are generally wary of humans, and this one didn't hang about me, or because my legs carried me faster than Usain Bolt has known. Either way, I wasn't about to stay and (dis)prove the theory of wary foxes and humans.
I simply run.
This is London. In 2010 I was horrified to read about the 9-month old twin girls who were bitten in the arm and face by a fox who had sneaked into their upstairs room in east London. Up until then, I hadn't even known foxes existed in London. In the time since, I'd spotted one on two occasions, both sometime in the early hours of the morning, either crossing a road or quietly rustling within some bush in a garden. Both times, they were FAR away from me, is my point. Neither occasion had certainly propelled me to run as fast as this one had. (On a side note, never again will I think I'm a crap runner. The memory of coming fourth in a group of five runners during several inter-house heats in boarding school can now die a natural death. I'm a pretty great runner, I have decided. I just need a foxy incentive...)
In many cultures the fox appears to signify sly cunning, but in retrospect, what I remember is the brazen glint in its eyes - a boldness that (before I abandoned all attempts at bravery and run) emanated from it, because I'm sure it knew I'd been startled by the unexpectedness, before my legs finally unfroze and did a runner. Perhaps something to learn from this - be brazen, launch out and take the bull by the horns?
I'll stop here before I wax lyrical about fantastic mister fox. I've seen it a few times since that morning. I like to think we've even developed an uneasy friendship, complete with a greeting that went from a thuggish, unsmiling acknowledgement (''Sup Fox?' 'What it do, Wulff?') to a cheery:
Have you had an interestingly wacky encounter recently?