Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Who coloured my cheese?

Many years ago, when I wasn’t working from home but for a large pharmaceutical company, I had to write a positive review of an annoying book ‘Who moved my cheese?’ It was short and cheesy and featured some mice who found that their cheese had been moved. Some of them had a strop and complained but others went for a walk and found more cheese. It was the company’s way of telling employees that the planned move to open plan office space was going to happen so stop whinging.

I was reminded of this while trying to find items in a new supermarket in a new town with my two year old daughter yabbering incessantly at me. Strangely enough, it wasn’t that I couldn’t find cheese, it was because I was looking at shelves full of yellow cheddar cheese.

In the six years we lived in the Scottish Borders it became progressively harder to find British cheddar that was not an artificial bright orange colour. By the end we were just resigned to eating it.

We found that the Scots were big on coloured food and drink. You could make a rainbow out of the bottles of fizzy pop in supermarkets and some of the curries in restaurants were almost fluorescent – presumably this saved money on romantic lighting.

We are now in Somerset and our accents are less of an issue. Even if we have learnt to pronounce some words the Scottish way. The food and pubs are noticeably better and it’s at least five degrees warmer without any of the snow the Borders has at the moment.

However it’s far from easy. Our son has gone from a couple of hours at nursery each day to nine to three at school, our daughter goes to nursery on her own for three hours and both of them have Christmas events that require our input. My wife is having a bout of work travel and we are still trying to make new friends.

Then there is the fact that I can’t important things as some are still packed while others have been put away somewhere random.

It’s not so much a case of saying “Who moved my cheese?” as “Where’s the bloody cheese knife?” Change is good but it’s much better when you know where things are hiding.

Incidentally, the pharma company I worked for (Pfizer) ended up closing the entire site (about 4,000 people) many of whom had specialist skills with no other suitable employer in the area.

The message is not to stress about who moved the cheese, but to pick up your own bit of cheese and keep it somewhere safe. Dyeing it orange is strictly optional.

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