The Fox in Darkness

We are now installed in the Wapping flat, boxes slowly being unpacked, bubble wrap slowly discarded. Alas we won’t have internet until oh, say, the next millennium, so my missives will be few and far between.

But the adventures reign unabated, starting with one that happened while I was still at my friend’s house in Blackheath. My old housemate from Fitzrovia has also been staying there. He, being one of those bright-and-early types, always left the house earlier than me. Thus it was that while I was sleepily making my way out of the house towards work one morning I found myself unable to exit.

The latch of the Yale lock simply refused to turn up or down, no matter how hard I pulled. What on earth was this? Had the lock broken? Was this some temporary glitch? In any case, with rising panic I realized that I was most firmly stuck in the house. I feebly continued to try exiting as the time for my train came and went. Alone, in a house I didn’t know very well, unable to leave and uncertain when I might expect a rescue party to arrive, I felt at a very low ebb.

Though actually it turned out not to be so bad: I made an escape eventually without needing to call a locksmith. The lock was not in fact broken. Did you know that you can lock a Yale lock from the outside, whereupon the person within will have absolutely no way out? Yeah, I didn’t either. And nor did my poor beleaguered housemate, who got an earful from me (along with some ‘this is how we do not lock Caitlin in the house’ lessons) later on.

Much, much later that same day, I found out that trains from Cannon Street Station to Blackheath stop running early in the evening. The last train of the day was still in the station and a station staff member, holding the giant gates open just wide enough to admit one person, told me to take it to London Bridge and change from there. “But you only have one minute to catch it,” he cautioned as I sped across the platform.

A businessman was behind me and as we clattered through the platform barriers the train let out a puff of air, the kind that often signals the closing of doors and the start of the journey. “Oh, no!” I cried as we pelted for the door, my skirt streaming out behind.

“Don’t fret, lass, you’ll make it,” panted the besuited figure behind me. I threw back my head and laughed in triumph as I jumped through the door, the settled passengers glancing around with raised eyebrows and pursed lips.

Eventually I alighted at Blackheath and made my way in the darkness towards the house where I was staying, not sure if the little private road even had streetlights.

Unsurprisingly it did, though muted ones in the sleepy residential area. Still trepidatious about walking alone at night while not being certain of the way, I began to sing softly. What tune could fit my purpose more fully than ‘When You Walk Through a Storm’ from Carousel? So (softly, so as not to disturb the neighbors) I sang about holding your head up high and not being afraid of the dark as I made slow progress along the dimly lit streets.

Something in the underbrush rustled, then out into the road stepped a fox, which trotted leisurely before me for a few paces then slunk into the bushes on the other side, where he sat peering at me through the leaves until I passed by. Indeed, I did not walk alone.