Friday, 29 February 2008

Living with the midgies


It is said that warm wet summers in England mean midges are appearing in greater numbers. We Scots can give some advice on how to live with them - we are old hands at it. There are repellents ranging from Avon Skin-So-Soft, through Jungle Mixture to delicate infusions of bog myrtle. Fisherpeople wear midge nets over their heads and necks. Last year we all got excited when Lidl had a special offer on mosqito netting until we saw the holes were wide enough to let the midges through about six abreast. We use Jungle Repellent and the cabin always has a supply of different repellents, citronella candles, and an electric fan which can be used when you are sitting on the verandah. The midges like damp, still weather. They hate direct sun and wind - even a breeze - hence the fan. We wear the impregnated scarves/sarongs you can buy in Sainsburys and find they work well. A holiday in the highlands in high summer means taking measures to avoid being bitten, but having a zen attitude to the midges. We are against the new midge eating machines, which in effect pump CO2 out into the atmosphere - not very environmentally-friendly! This is my own poetical response:


Highland peace talks

We sat round the table;
the midge representative
was flighty and hard to pin down,
we put our offer: each local arm

freely offered, tourists off limit.
Her response beyond our hearing
translated: “You would condemn millions,
thin the Great Cloud, mute the swarm.”

I leaned forward and spoke passionately:
“And yet we might end the war,
halt the crushing and poisoning,
that leaves a bitter taste in all our mouths.”

“We live intensely,” she replied,
“our one brief day on sedge and lochside,
breathe the scent of birch and pine
and then bite, lay our eggs and die.

“Those who do not bite – what would you have them do?”

Our chairman smiled that smile, kindly, lofty.
“Perhaps they could write poetry,
form theatre groups?
stand for election?
learn to salsa?”

The midge sighed: “I have consulted the
collective mind of the Cloud and this is their answer.”
Flying to our chairman’s dainty ankle,
exposed between trouser turn-up and silk sock

she bit him
then she laid her eggs
then she died.

We withdrew without speaking and separated.
It is always so when diplomacy fails:
some rushing to be first blaming the rest
others already planning the next phase of the war.

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