IN THE hope that good stuff comes in little bundles, today's column takes a second bite at the irritating subject of the midge. Following a short holiday on the Hebrides, last week's Gadfly discussed how the pesky blighters might be deterred or, perhaps, devoured. Among the devices on offer was something called the Midgeater, distributed by Calor.

Colin McCulloch points out that not only are Calor unalone in marketing anti-midge technology but that a complicated court case is pending over who sought to clip their wings first.

The original, say the American makers, was the Mosquito Magnet, which attracts similar insects like lemmings to a 200ft drop. The Calor version, they say, is a copy which breaches their patent. It has become aerial warfare.

Calor and their partners admit closely examining the Mosquito Magnet but insist that their product is specifically designed to combat the Scottish beastie.

"The midgeeater is the only propane-powered, insect-catching device that has been developed with the specific objective of tackling the Scottish midge, which costs the tourism industry millions each year," a spokeswoman told The Scotsman.

Both work, apparently, by mimicking a large animal in emitting carbon dioxide, heat, moisture and body odour.

Colin, whose son lives alongside Kentra Moss in the north-west highlands - "a midges' paradise" - reckons that the Midge Magnet's secret ingredient is buffalo sweat. "More attractive than human or cow sweat," he insists.

"I'll bet," adds Colin, "that some interesting research went into that."

THEN there's Midge Ure, he of Ultravox and Band Aid and doubtless several other worthwhile enterprises.

Born in Cambuslang in 1953, Ure was christened James. Since the Oxford English Dictionary variously defines "midge" as "a popular name loosely applied to many small, gnat-like insects", a diminutive person and "the fry of various fish", the name change was perhaps surprising.

Nor must he be confused with Ian Ure, the former Arsenal and Manchester United centre half, who's reckoned to have had the shortest name in the history of professional football.

Midge, who began working life at the National Engineering Laboratory in East Kilbride, played with Glasgow bands Stumble and Salvation before deciding that James Ure lacked a certain something.

Midge Ure simply adopted a trick once familiar in journalistic by-lines. Phonetically, at least, "Midge" is Jim backwards.

MIDGE Hadley may be even better known, at least among the millions seeking a toyboy. A website describes her as Barbie's best friend - "she shares her extensive wardrobe but not her man, since Allan is her boyfriend". They are dolls.

Lynn Briggs in Darlington reckons that Midge had led a pretty blameless life until Christmas 2002 when she became pregnant (or, to borrow Co Durham's greatest euphemism, she fell wrong.)

It was actually her second child, a little lad called Ryan already having been delivered without complications, but let's not spoil the story.

When the child opened Midge's tummy, a curled up baby would pop out. America was so outraged that Wal-mart, the world's biggest retailer, withdrew the toy from shops across the country.

"It's just that customers had a concern about having a pregnant doll," said a Wal-mart spokesman. Whatever poor Midge was expecting, middle America expected something better.

TRAVEL arrangements for Darlington bus passengers changed drastically from Monday. Almost all setting down and picking up points have been moved. It may explain why the pub was so full at lunchtime: folk had become so helplessly disorientated they decided to have a few beers instead.

Returning, we bumped into Frederick Stehr, owner for many years of Crombies Caf in the town centre. Half the town's buses now decant outside his window.

"I'm going to buy myself a conductor's uniform and change the name to the Bus Station Caf," said Frederick. Now, as we have observed before, all they need is a bus station.

EMAILS these days tend to be sent "with high importance". The Stokesley Stockbroker's missive arrives with a note on top that it is of no importance whatever. He's had travel problems, too.

A little optimistically, perhaps, the dear old chap was seeking to get by train from Middlesbrough to Carlisle, leaving Teesside at about 8pm, 20:00 hours. The railways' journey planner website duly obliged.

The Stockbroker was advised to catch the 20:07 from Middlesbrough to Northallerton, connect with the 20:38 from Northallerton to Newcastle, the 21:40 from Newcastle to Edinburgh and (stick with it) the 23:30 from Edinburgh to Glasgow - the fourth different train operating company.

Then things got really difficult, there being five and a half hours to complete the ten minute overnight walk between Queen Street and Central stations in Glasgow before joyfully catching the 5:50 to Carlisle.

"Bring back the Stainmore Railway," he says, though at that time of night he couldn't have done it from Darlington to Penrith, either. The good news is that they don't usually have midges in the capital - not in the wee small hours, anyway.

VIA Alan Archbold, last week's column recorded the complaints of the OSHABOT Club in East Boldon - that's Old Sods Having A Beer Or Two - about the price of a pint.

Baz Munday reports that the Coundon branch, near Bishop Auckland, has also had the item on the agenda. One of the members proposed that beer should be the same price as sausage: "80p a skin full".

What Baz doesn't say is whether the Coundon branch meets in the Conservative Club, from which I was debarred 30 years ago for suggesting that perhaps not everyone in the room was a fully paid up supporter of Mr Edward Heath and his government.

One day the exclusion order may finally be lifted, but that's another Tory.

...and finally, the front page of the Teesdale Mercury reports that the Bowes Museum was among ten places successfully targeted by Barnard Castle police in a campaign to curb youthful excesses.

On page 16 of the same issue, the Bowes is advertising for attendants. "The work of an attendant is physically demanding... and will involve moving abjects."

Down and out in Barney, the campaign clearly goes on. /news/gadfly.html

Published: ??/??/2004