Mum’s the Word
Skye, and we are loving it. The mountains, beaches and Fairy Pools, but by day three I remember what it is I hate about the Scottish summer. Midges. It’s like childbirth. You forget until the next time.
Midges have always loved me and here I am with 60 swollen bites on my face and neck – I stop counting at the scene of devastation that is my cleavage. On fire, at dawn, I head outdoors to stomp along the shoreline in the soothing sea breeze, watching for otters as the fishermen board their boats and head out to sea.
Finally, as I’m contemplating a spot of wild swimming, it’s 7am and relief is mine. I lather on repellent and wonder, “Why me?” And “Why is it so bad this time?” Ah yes, because I’ve given up pregnancy and smoking. I know from long and itchy experience, midges hate both.
Pregnancy I can no longer do, so when they finally arise, I’m reduced to bumming rollies off my children. The shame. And the loss of face, after my fuss about their occasional ciggies, now that I’m a born again vaper.
“Please... just the one,” I beg Eldest.
“Sure,” he says, looking smug and scoffing a blueberry muffin, identical to my swollen, scabbed face. “Vapes... no use against midges.”
Later, as we take a break at an outdoor cafe, the midges bite again. Middle opens A Tale of Two Cities, just chosen from the secondhand bookshelf, and reads aloud: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...” He continues through the whole first sentence. “Wow. I think I’ll take notes.”
“Whatever, just give me a roll-up,” I snap. “Em, please…”
“No bother mum,” he says, blowing a smoke ring.
Back home I consult the web. It advises pinning a sprig of bog myrtle to your clothes. A sprig? I’m going to fashion myself a myrtle onesie. Also Marmite, vitamin B, yeast tablets, lavender and garlic… Yup, all of those. And drastic, but effective, try hitting them with a hardback. I recommend something weighty, like Dickens.