Tag Archives | volponi


DSC00358Early July. I was walking this evening along a riverbank – the Saône to be exact. To my other side was a field of recently cut long grass giving up its scent and sap in the late heat. All the germinating, sprouting, budding and fanning out of green is done. Our three months since March, floating boatwise on waterways, keeps us close to growth and change. DSC00360Now I begin to see the fruiting, and I think about human life and its growing, flowering and fruiting. At my age I relate to ripening, and sit here to write this, and know I am fortunate not to be in a high-rise office where the air-conditioning is failing, straining my eyes on a computer screen. I am not breathing the pollution of this era’s transport – in short, I am close to nature. And being close to nature brings on the metaphors.

I think about my life and wonder when exactly my growing changed to flowering, when my flowering became fruiting (I guess as a mother that one’s easy) and when began my ripening. DSC00356There are so many uses for fruit – sustenance to other life, or to fall and add nutrients to the earth – even if it withers on the branch, some essence is given to the atmosphere and recycled. And yet we are so scared of death.

Really I believe many of the problems in human society began when it moved away from nature, when it began to believe itself superior. Of course it is not. The weather teaches us that. How many lives are lost simply to weather, or mosquito bites?  Our superiority is a delusion, and to try and manipulate and control nature will always fail. Husband it – nurture it – sure. But roots push up under tarmac, vines engulf buildings, seas rise and fall over great cities.

Control. That is the root and main fault of the human race. It tries to control. When it returns to germinating, growing, flowering and fruiting, just being, only then, will there be peace.DSC00362


Volpone, Reynard, Zorro, Fox

Twenty-eight years have passed since I sat in my mother-in-law Helen’s kitchen. We were bickering over something trivial. The room was huge and tudor-beamed, and we were at a long oak refectory table, where many enjoyed the Jacobs’ family hospitality, often given to down-and-outs as well as old friends. I was six months pregnant with my first. There was a knock at the back door, which was odd.

Helen got up to see who it was. A young policeman stepped into the kitchen and removed his helmet. He asked for me by maiden name, and I proudly and chirpily responded that I had changed it with marriage.

Then he told me that my father had died.

I’ve never been one to hold back emotions, although while I howled, I do remember thinking I should not, for the sake of my unborn. The policeman started to cry too. I can’t remember what Helen did – undoubtedly she tried to console me.

Dad’s only form of identity was a letter found in his pocket. I’d written it a few days earlier, inviting him to Helen’s farmhouse where I and my young husband were living.

My father was a goldsmith and horologist, and his name was Anthony John Fox. With such a surname, collections of fox images and ornaments are inevitable. I have many, but the main is my middle name, which I took a few years back by deed poll – his surname – my maiden name.

It was the day after Dad’s sixty-fourth birthday. Apparently, he’d seen some lads spraying graffiti on a Clerkenwell street. He shouted and gave chase, but his heart couldn’t take any more. He was in the middle of his third divorce. He was sure his wife’s lover (the two children’s piano teacher) was a pedophile, but who would believe a cuckolded man?

Twenty-odd years later, that piano teacher (who eventually married my stepmother) was imprisoned for pedophilia – my half-sister, Antoinette, one of his victims.

A.J. Fox – 20-2-1921 to 21-2-1985