POLL: Best or worst job ever? North Norfolk’s living, accordion-playing, scarecrow
18:37 04 October 2012
© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2012
Fantastic Mr Fox has got his eye on the birds at a north Norfolk farm.
But this Mr Fox isn’t licking his lips at the prospect of a fresh chicken dinner.
Instead, he’s wandering around a field near Aylsham, dressed in a hooded fluorescent-orange jacket, playing accordion music and clanging a cow bell with the aim of scaring away unwanted partridges.
Music and English graduate Jamie Fox, who grew up in Aylsham, is putting his instrumental skills to good use during a fortnight’s work as a living scarecrow.
Jamie, 22, who graduated from Bangor University in the summer, accepted the job offer to help him save towards a planned trip to New Zealand next year.
Music for scaring birds to
The combined wit and wisdom of the EDP’s journalists has come up with this suggested list of music Jamie Fox could play to frighten away the partridges. Can you suggest anything better?
● Bye, Bye Blackbird
● Anything from “Cats”
● Anything by the Black Crowes
● The Birdie Song
● Anything by the Partridge Family
● Pheasant Valley Sunday - Monkees
● Anything by Bob Marley and the Quailers
● If Only I Had A Brain - scarecrow song from the Wizard of Oz
● I’ve Got A Brand New Combine Harvester - The Wurzels
● Run Rabbit, Run
● Fly Like An Eagle - Seal
● When Doves Cry - Prince
● Little Bird - Annie Lennox
● I’m Like A Bird - Nelly Furtado
● Ring My Bell - Anita Ward
He is half-way through the eight-hours-a-day stint, keeping a watchful eye over 10 acres of oil-seed rape which partridge find particularly tasty at its young and tender stage.
Farmer William Youngs said his enthusiastic employee was doing a “very good job”, saving thousands of pounds worth of crop from being spoiled.
Jamie bikes to work along the Marriott’s Way path, sets up his “office” - a deckchair - in the middle of the field, puts on the jacket, and spends his day reading, listening to podcasts and music, sketching, and doing sudoku puzzles - until he spots the enemy.
“I suppose you could call me field security,” he said. “If I look up and see partridge I get up and wave my arms about or ring the bell at them. I play the accordion mostly for my own pleasure. Piano is my main instrument, but I couldn’t get it on my bike.
Human bird scarer who became a Norfolk Labour MP
Jamie Fox is not the first north Norfolk man to start his working life as a human scarecrow.
Sir George Edwards OBE (1850-1933), born in Marsham, did not learn to read or write until he was an adult and went to work, aged six, for one shilling (five pence) a week scaring crows.
Edwards went on to found the Eastern Counties Agricultural Labourers’ and Small Holders’ Union, later known as the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers.
He was a member of Norfolk County Council, a magistrate and a county alderman and served as MP for South Norfolk from 1920-1922 and 1923-24.
“I borrowed the cow bell from home. There are six of us and it’s used as the dinner bell,” said Jamie, a former Aylsham High School pupil and son of Martyn Fox, auctioneer with Keys of Aylsham.
The highlights of Jamie’s day, apart from his packed lunch, are the peace, and the wildlife.
He’s seen deer, kestrel, plenty of partridge and, one morning while biking to work, an otter crossed the Marriott’s Way just a few feet in front of him.
But the job does have its downside. Jamie is often cold, despite wearing three layers of clothes, and has to run for shelter in nearby woodland whenever it rains.