The Herald on Sunday

Is it just me? Can we just learn to love midges?

- Susan Swarbrick

MIDGES. Or should I say [insert expletive of choice] midges. This plaintive cry – a mixture of howling anguish and quivering fear – is the sound of the Scottish summer. Even more so this year with many folks choosing to holiday on home turf due to travel restrictio­ns regarding foreign jaunts.

I am not a fan of midges. I despise them. Conversely, they love me. In fact, they find me irresistib­le. Testament to this one-sided amour is the collection of angry-looking red dots covering large swathes of my skin.

These itchy, stinging bites have a tendency to swell into lumps the size of a large conker. Over the years, I have tried myriad home-remedy midge deterrents suggested to me – everything from eating Marmite sandwiches to spraying Listerine and taking garlic tablets.

Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt. Said T-shirt is now covered in microscopi­c blood spatter from countless midge bites. I should probably have bought shares in Avon’s Skin So Soft.

The only thing I dislike more than midges are those who airily proclaim: “Oh, midges? They don’t bother me …” Good for you. I am so thrilled.

Now, it seems, midges are trying to get good PR. They have even employed a National Trust for Scotland

(NTS) ambassador for this cunning plan. This unenviable task has fallen to Rule Anderson, a ranger at Kintail, West Affric and the Falls of Glomach.

At least, that seems to be the premise of the NTS press release that has dropped into my inbox. It reads: “Rule comes face to face with swarms of midges every day and he’s learned to love the insect for the crucial role they play in the food chain.”

It is a lovely sentiment, but it’s a hard pass from me on the midge lovebombin­g tactics. As much as I acknowledg­e their vital contributi­on to Scotland’s ecosystem, yada yada, I have no desire to be within the vicinity of these blood-sucking flying brutes.

I don’t think it is too much to ask. I would like to sit outside on a warm summer’s evening without slathering myself in more lotions and potions than a beauty influencer hawking sponsored content on Instagram.

It is difficult to relax when you are peering through the mesh of a midge hood with bloodshot eyes due to the smoky bonfire and copious citronella candles that have been lit in a bid to keep the biting blighters at bay.

Meanwhile, I am wondering how I’m meant to glug my wine while wearing an unflatteri­ng net over my head that gives me the appearance of a grieving Victorian widow/scheming Scooby Doo villain.

The midges will be lobbying the tourist board next. I can already visualise the VisitScotl­and campaign packed with natty slogans.

Scotland: Land of a trillion tiny vampires.

Scotland: It’s in your blood.

Scotland: A warm welcome from our national beast: We can’t wait to eat … we mean greet … you.

Now, if you need me, I will be gazing out longingly into the garden and quietly cursing.

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