Plankton Megalith is probably the world’s leading Cheese Whisperer. Usually a quiet and reserved man, as are all within his calling, Megalith shot to worldwide fame and celebrity status five years ago. This was during the Great Sage Derby Takedown Hostage Scenario in downtown Leominster.
Usually, Cheese Whisperers tend to avoid publicity, fame and the celebrity circuit. After all, we all know what can happen if a celebrity encounters, say, some unexpected Wensleydale or a Double Gloucester. Cheese is a notoriously unpredictable foodstuff at the best of times, but anything it perceives as trying to take away its limelight faces a very awkward experience. This can especially be the case if substandard crackers are involved. As one eyewitness to the cheese disaster in the now-infamous Celebrity Big Brother Dancing Bake-off On Ice Red Leicester Altercation said afterwards: ‘There were cream cracker crumbs everywhere! The horror! The horror!’
Still, the BBC did persuade a reluctant Megalith to allow them to film him as he attempted to defuse a potentially explosive Stilton in the carpark of a leading supermarket in Tewksbury last year. Megalith gained many fans and admirers amongst those watching the programme. All riveted to their TVs as he successfully rendered the Stilton safe with absolutely no loss of life. The only injury recorded was some slight bruising to a plastic punnet of Victoria plums. Apparently, a fleeing hysterical shopper dropped the punnet in the carpark when everyone assumed the Stilton had gone critical.
Recently the British Army has been experimenting with robotic cheese disposal. This follows some rather harrowing experiences in Afghanistan where the British forces were often exposed to homemade hastily constructed improvised goat’s cheese by the insurgents. As one ex-squaddie, who survived such an attack, said, ‘the smell of that goat’s cheese exploding will stay with me forever.’
However, the army found – often to its cost – that this area of modern warfare does not lend itself to either mechanisation or robotic solutions. As Megalith himself said in one of his infrequent interviews, ‘you have to know cheese, not only its smell, its taste, its constituency, its texture, but its soul. Most of all, you have to speak its language and speak it softly.’
As a cheese scientist says in the BBC programme, ‘it is no good going in there to face the cheese shouting your mouth off about Best Before Dates. Or reading a book on what cheese goes best with what accompaniments. You have to know, understand, feel and love cheese. That is something there is not enough computing power on Earth to emulate yet. No matter how many millions of cheeseboards worth of data you pump into the system.’
All in all then, it looks like the Cheese Whisperers, like Megalith, will be with us for a long time to come. At least until computer scientist can overcome the limitations of computer systems. Systems that – it seems – have little grasp of the complexities of cheese, never mind all its tastes, moods, textures and – of course – its volatility.
So then we can only be grateful that the Cheese Whisperers are still around and that there are men like Megalith, who will keep all our cheese – and us – safe for as long as they can.