On scarecrows

Last night, I watched the latest wonderful Worzel Gummidge story by Mackenzie Crook, the fifth he’s written, directed and starred in. As Andy Paciorek wrote in an essay in issue two, available here, of the excellent Waiting for You: a Detectorists zine, ‘The writing, casting, acting and the luscious Unthanks’ music [. . .] blend mellifluously to create a rare, special slice of television.’ Hooray, then, for another episode tonight.

The programme never fails to remind me that my paternal great-grandfather was a scarecrow. Yes, really. It was his first job after finishing what little formal education he received. My granddad wrote a bit about it in his memoirs, which I then used as the starting-point for my poem about it, which was published in The Evening Entertainment:

       Charles Paul, Aged Ten, 1872

St Swithun’s Day dawn. A goshawk
fossicks the fields of Combe Hill Farm.
All the crows and jackdaws have flown.
Charley drowses within the corn,
though woe betide if Master Buss,
the headman, should witness him so.
Charley can read and write; will soon
become a journeyman butcher
in Eastbourne, wed, like his parents,
at the Zoar Strict Baptist Chapel,
Lower Dicker, then propagate
roses and seven fine children.

Now, he scares a ten-hour day,
for a shilling sixpence per week,
swivelling the rat-a-tat clapper
over his head, like the Zulu
chieftains brandishing assegais
in Illustrated London News.

One thought on “On scarecrows

  1. I’ve also loved these Worzel Gummidge’s (and all of MC’s work) but last night, in particular, I was reminded of when I truly believed these things, and went myself in adventures with the ‘other than human’! Here’s to another year of inspiration!

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