"The Silver Horn", Boris Johnson, Derrydale Press, Fox, Fox Hunting, Gordon Grand, Human Predation, London, The Sportsman
The population of wild foxes in London has exploded in recent years. Though attractive animals, foxes can be nuisance scavengers toppling your garbage can in the same fashion as raccoons, but foxes are also liable to eat the family cat. One overly-ambitious fox earlier this year made headlines by trying to carry off a four-week-old baby in South London. The infant survived, but lost a finger.
Boris Johnson, the current flamboyant mayor of London, apparently recently had his cat attacked, and Johnson was provoked to come out against the 2004 Hunt Ban, and (amusingly) express support for fox hunting in metropolitan London.
Boris Johnson has called for fox hunts in London to deal with the problem of increased numbers of the animals in the capital.
The mayor of London described how he was enraged after his cat was attacked and was tempted to go out and â€˜blaze awayâ€™ at the fox with his air rifle.
There are around 10,000 foxes in the capital out of a total 33,000 living in urban areas across the UK, around 14 per cent of the total population of the animals.
Earlier this year a four-week-old baby had his finger ripped off by a fox.
Mr Johnson said it was time to brining in culling to keep numbers in check.
â€˜This will cause massive unpopularity and I donâ€™t care. Iâ€™m pro liberty and individual freedom. If people want to get together to form the fox hounds of Islington Iâ€™m all for it,â€™ he said.
â€˜I got wild with anger not so long ago because I thought our cat had been mauled by a fox. I wanted to go out with my 2.2 [sic] and blaze away.’
Was it the mayor or reporter Tariq Tahir who thinks that air rifles are chambered in “2.2”?
The concept of fox hunting in heart of London, alas! neither Boris Johnson nor Tariq Tahir will be aware, is actually a famous literary theme.
In 1932, Gordon Grand published a wonderful story, titled The Silver Horn, A Nocturne of Old London Town, in The Sportsman, the opulent monthly catering to the wealthy and well-educated American sporting community, edited by Richard Danielson and published in Boston from 1927 to 1937.
One of the female members of the Millbeck Hunt tells Arthur Pendleton a story of observing during a recent visit to the metropolis a tipsy gentleman in evening dress, carrying a silver hunting horn, and hunting a notional pack of hounds through the heart of London’s fashionable West End. She describes the hunt in marvelous detail, remembering every check and incident of the hunt, producing a splendidly imaginative piece of sporting whimsy.
The story is a masterpiece, which manages to convey the technical sophistication and aesthetic charm of hunting through a verbal account of an entirely imaginary hunt in incongruous surroundings.
The Silver Horn was published the same year by Eugene V. Connett’s Derrydale Press as the title story of a collection of Grand’s foxhunting stories. The same story was also published privately in very small editions to be presented as gifts in Montreal in 1935 and Honolulu in 1941.