Here in the frozen North we have a few short weeks between the end of winter (June 1st) and the Longest Day (June 21st) when all is pleasant and charming. We can venture forth in something less than the standard six layers of clothing, sit outside the pubs on chairs that don’t have to be bolted to the pavement, and generally act normal. Some even go hatless over this brief halcyon period.
But then all hell breaks loose. Down from the hills they come, great gangs of the blighters, bent on rampage and destruction, and very quickly we’re sent scuttling back indoors to hide in the darkness until morning comes.
No, I’m not talking about the sheep – though they’re bad enough, hanging around on street corners, smoking tabs, and intimidating the old folk.
It’s the midges.
We’re famous for our midges round here. Marsden is to midges as Blackpool once was to mill workers. This is where they come for their holidays, and boy do they like to party when they get here. And just to extend the analogy a bit further, I’m the top attraction in town. Yup, one big amusement arcade, that’s me, a pleasure dome to rival Kubla Khan's joint in Xanadu, my pheromones sending out beacons of light lest any should doubt where the hot spot is. They all love me.
‘Let’s go to Steve’s!’ they cry. ‘It’s real!’ And go to Steve’s they do – in their millions.
It’s probably because I’m a softy Southerner. I just taste more better.
Anyway, the annual assault starts here, and so it’s time to erect the barricades once again. I have mosquito netting Velcro’d to all my windows, and that’s quite effective. In fact I love to sit at my desk of an evening, windows open, and watch all the midges batting in vain against gauze. Breaks their little hearts it does, not to be allowed in. ‘Sorry, guys’, I say. ‘Wrong dress code. Have you seen yourselves?’
Which bravado is all very well, but of course I have to go out sometimes and the midges know it. Pretty good at the waiting game is yer man the midge. A bit like yer man the triffid, in that respect. They sidle off into the shadows, hissing and muttering, maybe play a few hands of poker until I come out of hiding, and then they pounce.
I do have a second line of defence: Mosiguard. This is a great product in that it forces the little beasts to keep their distance, even the most vengeful being unable to withstand the smell. Unfortunately it forces everyone else to keep their distance as well, the choking fumes being more or less on a par with mustard gas. ‘Christ!’ they say, over in Slaithwaite, as I emerge from my front door, ‘What’s that stink?’
So Mosiguard does little for one’s social standing, and that's why I’ve decided to invest in some of this Avon Skin-so-Soft that I've been hearing about. Our troops swear by it, so I gather, but then they only have to contend with weedy foreign insects. I shall be pleasantly surprised if the Marsden midge can be kept at bay with something more likely to be found in the boudoir than the chemical dump.
But we shall see, and I’m keenly awaiting my bulk shipment, ordered on eBay this morning.
(*And yes, I know it should be 'The Girls Are Back In Town', it being the females that bite, but I don't care.)