Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Not as simple as ABC!

Night foxLooking out of the window one recent dawn, I saw a large black animal on the other side of the road. It was sitting motionless in the twilight, barely lit by street lights. I instantly thought of a big cat! Specifically, I recalled photos I'd seen of them. Unsurprisingly, I had doubts almost straight away. It must be a fox, I decided. I had seen them in a similar position and pose many times before (like the one in the photo, right). And yet the large animal in front of me remained stubbornly feline in appearance.

Though I was unwilling to stop looking at the animal, in case it walked away, I knew I had to fetch my glasses, which I had yet to put on, for a better view. Luckily, the animal was still there when I returned. Straight away it stood up and walked away. It was a normal size domestic black cat! So how had I overestimated its size?

Well, obviously there was the low light and significant distance of the animal to consider. And, in particular, my not wearing my glasses clearly had a big effect because I could see what the animal really was straight away, once I had them on. I also think that my reading reports about alien big cats, and seeing photos of them, was a significant influence. I think many others in my situation would not, perhaps, so readily have wondered if it might be a big cat. The experience did make me acutely aware of how easy it can be to get size wrong in poor viewing confidants, even in familiar scenes!

PS: You can now book for ASSAP's Seriously Spooked ghost convention on 27 September in Birmingham. Just go here for information and to book tickets.

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