Matthew Haran



Known as midges in the rest of the English-speaking world the Scottish versions of the Chironomidae are a fearsome pestilence Nature programmes make much of the of the killer sharks' feeding frenzy, but anyone who has exposed skin to a cloud of midgies can testify that these tiny menaces, pound for pound, can make sharks look like vegetarians. As well as having a deleterious effect on Scottish tourism, the midgie has had a profound effect on the Scottish psyche.

The amount of unkempt gardens in Scotland is easily explained The midgie, like the moth, is attracted by light and any white surface acts as a magnet. Celts have light skin so the inevitable consequence for a gardener is midgie-attack. Unfortunately exertion is accompanied by perspiration which traps the midgie who promptly tries to eat its way to safety. Scottish gardeners have to be hardy as well as dedicated.

Hair of a reasonable length on men is almost unknown in Scotland. Long-haired shaggy-bearded men fare best.Trapped in a labyrinth the midgie will perish before reaching its target. So the hirsute male is well protected. The rest of of us find that the midgie is so annoyed at being trapped that it quickly makes its way to the surface of the skin and eats down to the follicle; although it gives up its own life successive generations of midgies will not suffer from that particular hair. This explains the inordinately large number of baldy Scots.

People out for a quiet stroll in the evening often find themselves under attack and forced to seek refuge. Sometimes the only haven is a public house.So terrorised are many Scots that they are virtually trapped until closing time and common decency dictates that they patronise the bar. Even the most judgemental must acknowledge that the midgie is responsible for much of what might otherwise be regarded as gratuitous drunkenness.

The Scottish football crowd is not an edifying spectacle.Overweight from gentle exercise that a little gardening would bring; bald from the predation of generations of midgies; and cursed with a taste for copious amounts of alcohol developed while fleeing the flying menace, these unfortunates suffer the final indignity. The excitement of the contest makes them break in a gentle glow, which  traps the midgies who try to eat their way to safety through their baldy heads. Little wonder that so many of them have mince for brains!

(C) Matthew Haran 2019