Friday, February 17, 2006


On the whole, I prefer to avoid abroad whenever possible. It’s not that I don’t like to experience other cultures (even if they are a tad less civilised than us lot), it’s just that it’s too damn dangerous.

Take the USA for example; have a nice snooze and you’re liable to have your nadgers nipped by a scorpion; go for a stroll in the woods and chances are a wolf will bite your leg off below the knee. Then there’s Canada, a frozen wilderness filled with wolverines with razor sharp teeth and grizzly bears just itching to tear your head off. Australia is the worst of the lot, a continent filled with the most venomous snakes on earth, and a dirty big bastard spider that lurks in toilet bowls hoping to inject venom into your naked buttocks at the first opportunity.

It’s just not safe, I tell you. I’m with the poet Phillip Larkin, who opined that he wouldn’t mind visiting the Great Wall of China as long as he could be home in time for his tea.

Britain doesn’t have much in the way of dangerous critters. The best that we can come up with is the wankiest of venomous snakes: the adder. If you suffer a bite from one of these you might suffer a slight fever, and a bit of a headache, but that’s about it.

We do have one creature that, although unlikely to kill you, has the potential to ruin your day. The highland midge is a small biting fly with a voracious appetite. They attack in clouds, and are guaranteed to evacuate all campsites and barbeques in ten minutes flat.

The Scottish Tourist Board literature mentions the highland midge in small print at the back of their brochures. I can appreciate that it’s best not to over emphasise the potential down sides of a holiday in Scotland, but it would be fairer to warn summer visitors that a midge hood and an ample supply of insect repellent are essential purchases.

If these insects existed in the south of England I’m sure the scientists would have worked out a way to exterminate them fifty years ago. Unfortunately there are too many biodiversity experts up here. If I hear another eco fuckwit blethering on about the essential role of the midge in maintaining the diversity of birdlife, I’m going to strangle him with his cagoule.

As far as I’m concerned, the Lesser Spotted Mauve Lapwing can fuck off and die. I can live with a few less flappy things if it stops me being eaten to death every summer


Kyahgirl said...

You are so funny garfer.
I went to goodle Midges after reading about them on ft's blog. The first set of hits described the inocuous non-biting ones of the US. Then I got to Australia and the UK. Awful little monsters.

I feel the same about mosquitos.

(and there are no wolverines in sight today-thank christ)

Kyahgirl said...

argh, that would be 'google' of course, not goodle. Fuckwit would fit in well here.

sarah said...

At T in the park last year, i was bitten by a cleg. (horsefly if you're english)
I woke up in the early hours of monday morning in the tent, with a pulsating bottom lip. I found a mirror, and my screams woke up the entire campsite. My bottom lip looked like a jumbo sausage. I took antihistimine, it went down, went to work tuesday, and my entire face swelled up like Lenny the Lion. Much slagging commenced. And yes i am going to T this year.
Photographic evidence below.
p.s. I had never read ur blog b4, like it ;-)

garfer said...

At least 4 million mosquitos don't attack at the same time.

Clegs are vile.

Sniffy said...

That's such a funny post - it just about sums up my attitude to travelling. Fuck knows why I'm going to canada; i'm probably going to be mauled by a bear, or a three year old, or a donkey...

Midges. I'm not sure i've ever suffered a serious midgy attack apart from once when I went for a walk down the woods that are dissected by the Irwell. The fuckers came out in force in late afternoon. Little bastards.

Nature is a wonderful thing. It has the power to make you love and absolutely hate it all at once.

Convict said...

Be thankful you only have midges to worry about garfer. I was born and bred on the north Kent coast where, within the last one hundred years, if you could get a woman to survive the mosquitos you married her. Honestly, when Great Expectations was written women died of mosquito related diseases on a regular basis.

Gordon said...

Apparently Avon "Skin So Soft" spray keeps the midges away. I'm guessing on the basis that any guy administering a skin lotion is deemed "not hard enough" for the midges to bother with... or something.

garfer said...

The Avon stuff does work, up to a point. The truth is that no repellant will keep all of the bastards away all of the time.

Extermination is the only answer.

Sniffy said...

How about napalming the whole country?

garfer said...

That's a bit excessive.

I wouldn't mind napalming every Wetherspoons and Yate's in the country though.

Kyahgirl said...

they recommend Skin So Soft for mosquitos too but it doesn't really work. Only DEET is any good but then you risk the long term effects of putting a deadly toxic chemical on your skin. Lovely.

you're right, mosquitos only swarm in the thousands but if you're really lucky they will be acompanied by 'no-see-ums' or biting black flies. Never go to Northern BC in the summer time. That's my one helpful hint for the day.

Tina, you should be ok where you're going. Mostly just human wildllife there :-)

Sniffy said...

I've heard the VI marmots are planning a rebellion. It could get very dangerous.

pissoff said...

I suffered a Midge Ure attack back in the late 80s. I think I may have it kicking around somewhere. What should I use on it?

garfer said...

Beat it to death with a Geldof.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Not only are they irritating little bastards when they draw your blood but they stain something chronic when you hurtle through a swarm while on a bike or broom.

I'm all for freckles but when those freckles have little legs and wings it really puts me off.

Oh yes, and they split apart on impact smearing other peoples blood all over ones face!

Arabella said...

The biggest outdoors problem in Scotland for me was wasps chasing my beer. It's possible that swarms of wasps keep midges at bay but it's no way to enjoy a pint. I switched to Laphroig.

becca said...

4,000 mosquitos ate Alex last year. He looked as if he'd come down with chicken pox. Texas squitos love the Scots but don't seem to bother me so much. I walked into a midgie cloud on the platform here in Glasgow and they chewed me to bits.