Former hurricane Ophelia cast a very gloomy sky over London today, and at time it seemed so like night, with shops lit up and cars using head-lights, that I half-expected the communal garden to come alive with the usual nightly parade of foxes.

There's quite a community here. Because they are not just welcomed but often fed by residents, you might expect them to wander about seeking a petting, and perhaps a brush down or so. However, their probably justified shyness continues.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Sunny side up ... A neighbourhood fox takes in a spot of sunbathing before the hurricane's cloud darkened the metropolis.

It had been almost a dog's life for the critters in the area because the council suddenly introduced sealed plastic bins for left-over food.

Previously, scraps from the table went into the huge open-topped rubbish tins. The amount of it thrown out always amazed me, a vegetarian and a fellow obliged to live frugally. I suspect the quantity was the delight of the fox population.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Stormy ... The grim weather at dawn, on its rampage towards Ireland. Heavy accompanying cloud darkened the streets of London.

Then, without announcement - certainly no whispers went to fox families - everything changed.

Gratis alternative

Instead of being added to the huge bin, the scraps suddenly were tipped into plastic containers that not even careful neighbours like me could dip into as a gratis alternative to a discount supermarket shopping.

The change must have had a profound effect upon the fox family, so used to the nightly rubbish bin forays.

Skin and bones

Many fox families must have perished. I saw many ghost-like foxes that seemed hardly more than mangy skin and bones.

No professional chariot fund-raisers for them in the streets here. But perhaps heart-rending shrieks of birds snatched from their roosts at night, perhaps just from the ghost-like appearance of the famished forms in the twilight, prompted the neighbourhood's conscience.

Now many of us put out food for them each night. Some offer food scraps. I prefer vitamin-rich dog food which veterinarian Sue Pell recommends. Which the critters themselves prefer isn't announced.

They seem to be happy with both, if their nightly ghost-like cries are to be interpreted correctly. And the strange trumpetings themelves seem much more to do with foxy affection now than their famine of not so long ago.

Thanks very much for visiting the blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory.