Sunday, 16 August 2009

The seven-day itch

We forgot all about the midges.

I can't believe we went to the Highlands in August and forgot the midges.

Bugger, bugger, bugger.

Mrs Pig "Farmer" is covered head-to-toe in bites, although my offers to rub in something soothing have so far fallen on stoney ground. Her loss.

We have two bottles of Avon Skin So Soft in the bathroom, stored for the two days a year when the wind drops enough for midges to appear in Westray. How hard would it have been for me to chuck one in a bag?

Still, scratching aside, we had a decent enough time. Scotland is lovely, the kind of country Ireland could be if it wasn't for the mad bungalows all over the place.

The pig "farmer" even went clothes shopping - one of the most depressing and frustrating hours of his entire existence.

A pack of socks and a plain black "going to town" jumper should have taken all of five minutes. I had a thorough look at everything on offer, made my selections and decided I'd better stop wasting time in Waterstones and get on with the clothes shopping.

I found socks - packs of seven for £10 (probably two months' wages for the eight-year-old who made them). I ignored the ones with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc - there lies the path to madness.

"Hello, NHS Direct? I can't leave the house, I've got one Wednesday, one Friday and it's Saturday. What should I do?"

Armed with a pack of seven in different shades of grey I went in search of a plain, black jumper. Easy, right? Wrong. Pursuit of the Holy Grail would be simple by comparison.

Modern shopping centres, even in somewhere as otherwise pleasant as Inverness, are dismal, airless places flogging the kind of tat that would have embarrassed the Steptoes.

After an hour spent dodging the Stepford shoppers, bouncing from one bunch of corporate shysters to another, wondering just which idiot thought to sew together a jumper and a shirt and then sell it for more than £20 to other idiots, I gave up. "Life's too short" and all that.

I had seen one jumper I liked - a Marks and Sparks one in schoolboy grey with a couple of buttons - but it was £30 and, despite the price indicating it may have been made by someone older than 12 and on something approaching a living wage, it was outside the budget (£30 is more than 100kg of pig feed).

I found solace in Inverness's Victorian Market where there is a real rarity - an independent record/music shop. Not very Victorian I suppose, but that didn't stop me rifling the shelves before buying a British Sea Power album for my daughter (as long as she lets me download it first).

Of course, I should have left the jumper shopping to Sally in the first place. This morning as we waited for the ferry back to Orkney, I strolled along the shore at John O'Groats sipping a cup of builder's tea and enjoying the midgelessness of it all and Sal went to the Edinburgh Woollen Mill and bought a plain black jumper, size large, the kind pig "farmers" wear when going to town.

Nice one.


Yorkshire Pudding said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yorkshire Pudding said...

You just ain't hip man! You gotta get in the groove re. fashion. Grey socks and an Edinburgh Wool Mill black jumper is not the way to make a fashion statement. No siree! Once I secure your address I'm gunna send you some of my cast offs then the ladies of Westray gonna be goggle-eyed when you walk by with your pitchfork. They gunna shout, "Hey Malcie Boy! Come n make some bacon wid me!"

Malc said...

Oh good grief!

Sian said...

Maybe all island folk should do their shopping in John O'Groats - I had a similar sartorial success last year - found a wax jacket there suitable for a peedie wife having combed the Temples of Mammon south in vain for such attire......

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Oh come on Ireland wouldn't be Ireland without the rash of mad bungalows - wouldn't mind a mad bungalow myself just out of Galway.

Donn Earthling said...

I am truly troubled to learn that even way over there, in the remotest parts of Civilization, that Human Beings are forced to contend with the pressure of keeping up appearances whilst placating their conscience and choosing the seven for £10 socks and fancy schmancy black jumper ensemble,
and sayin' to hell with the short, brutal, hardscrabble, lives of those malnurished, diseased, sweatshop-kiddies in the bloody Nike orphanage.

Lindsay said...

I think I am a tad unusual for the female species - I HATE clothes shopping! My feet so big have to wear mens shoes, am 6ft tall and despair at the short jerseys etc made for women. I dash into Cirencester to the said same Edinburgh Woollen Mill and buy up a pack of sweat shirts once in a while.

Malc said...


I wouldn't have dreamed of setting foot in the place, but Sal has a nose for these things.


I'm more a Mayo man meself - make up your own sandwich jokes. Actually I'm a cobbling together of Dublin, Westmeath and Antrim.

Mr Earthling

The clothes industry is rotten to the core. Even a Made in Great Britain label means it has almost certainly been made by women earning a quarter of the minimum wage in a backstreet in Leicester or Bradford. I'm surprised to find that taking on the corporate arseholes is much harder than opposing apartheid (for example). The only solution is to go naked and, in my case at least, nobody wants that.


"Dashing into Cirencester". I've been on that by-pass and I'm surprised that "dashing" is possible.

SJ said...

Oh yes. the midges. We camped in the highlands last August - partner had a job interview in Glen Nevis. I'm so very glad he didn't get it. This animation should bring back the memories nicely!

SJ said...

as I Was saying this animation...