An apposite omen for Britain today



Monday, October 28, 2013 12:52 PM GMT- From the Guardian


A fox has killed two Tower of London ravens, taking the kingdom dangerously close to ruin, despair – and yet another cull

by Philip Hoare

Forget the apocalyptic storm. We've got worse things to worry about. A fox has killed and eaten two of the ravens at the Tower of London, reducing the birds' population from eight to six, thus bringing us dangerously close to under a half-dozen which, if breached - as Charles II decreed - the kingdom would collapse into ruin and despair.

The incident, which has only just been made public, has been headlined as "rocking the future of the monarchy". I don't wonder that, in the wake of the botched slaughter of badgers, this latest outrage will spark a new cull of the apparently much hated, baby-smothering urban fox – although they are guilty of little more than rooting through our bins like freegan raiders.

Cue a new pronouncement from pro-hunting Owen Paterson, perhaps, on the dangers of these cunning vulpines? More worryingly, it might even give fuel to David Cameron's moves towards lifting the ban on fox hunting - even as the latest reports indicate that Britain's population of foxes is actually declining. Meanwhile raven populations have been pushed to the western margins of the country by rural industrialisation.

Fox and raven: it's an ancient, anthropomorphic battle, an example of the way we invest animals with our own human failings in an attempt to encompass the natural world. It is no coincidence that 'avian' and 'augury' come from the same Latin root. The Tower's raven myth probably dates back to the Roman legend that if roosting ravens left a house, murder and mayhem would follow.


To the Vikings, ravens were one of the vengeful Beasts of Battle, their carrion-hunting habits auguring slaughter for the Norsemen's enemies. But they were also used as navigation aids on longships, and Odin owed his omniscience to his pet pair of ravens, Huginn and Muninn, or thought and memory respectively, which flew around the world every day and brought back reports of happenings like dark age search engines. Two of the Tower's ravens still bear these names.

- Lets ban fox hunting I guess. I love those ravens. CSH