Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Foxes and bus drivers

I’ve mentioned before that I live in Bloomsbury, near Russell Square, notable for being the location of the British Museum. In fact the museum faces away from the square and a short quaint street called Montague Street leads from Russell Square to Great Russell Street (see map) which is where the grand museum entrance actually is.
For some reason whenever I pass through Montague Street I seem to have peculiar experiences. The other night I was on my way home on the 7 bus, which comes from Marble Arch/Oxford Street and reaches Russell Square (photo source).

Just as it was turning into Montague Street we hit a pedestrian quite hard, sending him flying to the pavement. Initially I was so shocked I couldn’t move, but the guy we hit got up almost immediately and seemed to be fine. Ironically the guy who had been hit apologised, while the bus driver – who hadn’t even bothered to ask him if he was all right – demanded his name and address for insurance reasons, as the impact had partially shattered the front window of the bus (must have been a hardheaded guy!). It's not the first time that I have noticed this attitude of entitlement that drivers in London have, which, for all its chaotic driving, I have rarely seen in Italy. At any rate, when the guy himself insisted he was fine, I walked the rest of the short distance home, and since then I have been extra careful when I cross the street!
Last night I was walking down Montague Street again, and as I approached the high fence that runs along the side of the British Museum I was stopped short when a fox jumped out onto the sidewalk from between the poles. I was flabbergasted: I guess Americans who are used to squirrels, racoons and the like in their cities would think nothing of it, but in continental Europe’s much more densely populated centers all you expect are pigeons and maybe rats. However there seems to be quite a large population of foxes living right here in London. Here is a picture of one:

Anyway, he (she?) ignored me, calmly walked to the edge of the sidewalk and was about to cross the street when a car came and he thought better of it. Then he turned around and went back to where he came from. Maybe he too had seen the guy being hit by the bus!

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