The tail-end of the summer brings one final push by the ranks of winged insects to pair up and ensure their Cretaaceous legacy is continued next year. This adds a little flavour to playing football in one of London’s parks, meaning you are the buffet on the sidelines of this writhing swarm, leaving you with pebble dashed calves which have to be furiously rubbed at under the desk the next day at work. You look a little odd.
I sometimes wonder if, with playing next to the zoo, we get subjected to some sort of midge much more beefy than its common counterparts, having adapted locally to biting through the hides of animals from the savannahs of Africa and beyond. As dusk approaches, they lazily rise in a fluttering mist from the grass and set upon any exposed leg flesh with a leisurely but relentless resolve, until the frequent nips become a background constant.
On the last week where there is enough daylight to play on an evening, we find ourselves truly exposed as our one line of defence is removed: one of our number, who seems to have made a hobby of exploring central American jungles and resultantly brings a spray with him of such strength that you seem to see the skin of your legs draw itself taut upon contact, doesn’t turn up. Hence the look of panic in the eyes of some I see upon arrival, as they flinch at the sensation of being gnawed alive.
“Huw,” one desperately asks, simultaneously rubbing his arms and legs as I set down my bag, “do you have any repellent with you?”
“Plenty,” I say, straightening up. “It’s called natural charisma.”
The cloud descends around us.
5 weeks ago