Used for millennia to scare birds away from crops, the scarecrow is finding times as tough as we are and many have lost their jobs over the last year. However, the scarecommunity is now undergoing something of a twenty first century renaissance, if not remodelling. Here we expose the alternative careers that many modern scarecrows are adopting to make ends meet. Are they still up for the job or has the scare gone out of them? Judge for yourself.
In recent years the scarecrow has lost its human shape and has been replaced by things such as shimmer ribbons or automatic noise guns - and the old scaremongerers have found little or no new employment. This notwithstanding, the art of the scarecrow is not lost and many would agree that it is important to keep this aspect of the countryside going. All the same, many of the scarecrows themselves have had to opt for second jobs (to judge by their clothing at least). For some, new found success has come with their new careers - for most success is mixed. And one or two have tried just a little too hard.
A scarecrow can be really modern and with a little imagination and some paint - and that can only increase the chances of alternative employment, surely? They still come under a host of different names, however, which leads to confusion, resentment and occasionally anti-scarecrow demonstrations among the human population. Even in the relatively small United Kingdom, names abound such as mommet, hodmehod, murmet and bwbach in the Welsh speaking parts of Wales. In Scotland they perhaps have the most inventive name for them – tattie bogle – which derives from Scottish Gaelic for the old man of the rocks.
Times are hard and some scarecrows have taken up employment which require an altogether different dress sense than previously. Sometimes it really doesn’t where you find yourself – it is important to keep up appearances. There are a host of other names for them. You might know your local scarecrow as a mawkin, shuft, nuffara or bogeyman but they were all designed to do one thing. That is to save the crops in your garden or field from the marauding birds who want a lazy lunch rather than to forage. Some have taken to becoming accountants and lawyers but have discovered that people are already scared enough of them. Back to the fields.
A number of scarecrows have tried their hands at being rap artists, not to the greatest success or acclaim but you can't fault them for giving it a go. Perhaps they had heard that there are even scarecrow festivals as far afield as Japan and the US and thought that they would take advantage of that. Back to the drawing board, chaps.
Some scarecrows have fled to far flung parts of the world in search of a better life and employment prospects. Sometimes they don't quite find themselves in a perfect place, which is a shame. They then find themselves having to wait for a return to their country of origin in the truly dreadful scarecrow relocation camps where conditions are hard and rumors of scaretorture are rife.
Sometimes there are escapes from the camps and a bold scarecrow makes a bolt for freedom. In many cases the scarecrows have found that they have to live a life of crime and scarepiracy is not uncommon. Many scarecrows would not have turned to crime if they had been given a proper chance of redeployment by an uncaring and mostly hostile human population.
The history of the scarecrow goes back many hundred years - they were, for example, mentioned in the novel Robinson Crusoe and they have been referenced in many pieces of literature and have appeared in a number of movies over the years. They are still barred, however, from most award ceremonies connected to the arts. One section of the scarecommunity, nevertheless, has decided for that their future was in the arts.
Scarecrows and modern art may not sit comfortably with each other at first but it is rumored that Tracey Emin and Damian Hurst are interested in employing these guys for a short period of piece work. There are even plans for Bono of U2 to release a charity single in support of them.
Many have found, however, that complete reinvention is necessary. Whereas the maxim you are what you eat may not hold completely true, many have found that you can't be what is eaten - not for long at any rate.
Others have realised that a complete change of career path is not essential. You can still scare, without it having to be crows. The last two in our collection have realised that scaring humans is perhaps the best way to ride the recession and come out of safely on the other side.