In my mid life years I find that my radar is not what it used to be. I have started to doubt my judgement about people and things. Half the time my head seems too full to ‘read the room’ properly. Although my gut grows bigger, my instinct does not. Thank goodness then for apps.

Let us start with reading ‘things’. To relieve my cheeseboard anxiety, for example – random I know, but stay with me on this – I am relieved to discover that there is now an app to help me confront any cheese offer with confidence. Now that dinners and parties are starting to become a ‘thing’ again, my excitement at seeing the reintroduction of a cheese board is tempered by my fear of sounding like a muppet in public. Shallow I know, but I am scared of any social stigma resulting from my contextual cheese comparisons being limited to Stringy Cheese, Dairylea or Babybel.

Surely you can share my frustration at tucking into a yummy piece of cheese and feeling embarrassed that you cannot identify it – or even worse, realising that you will never be able to go out and buy this anonymous cheese for yourself because you do not know what to call it. Just say cheese, the Cheezam app has come to our rescue.

To avoid social embarrassment, now all I have to do is take a surreptitious photo of my mystery cheese, then the app will compare my snap against a database of 9,000 images of different cheese varieties. (My head is currently too full to compute HOW there can be so many dairy delights in the world – I am still getting over my port tasting experience and worrying about my cholesterol reading). Cheezam will look at the cheese’s features – size, shape, colour, spots and holes – and identify this little critter, thus saving any loss of face (unless it is a particularly runny cheese and I have already smeared it all around my chops). It is a virtual ID parade of cheese and should allow me to move on from my stock response of, ‘yes, I would love another slice of that very mature Cheddar’.

Now, you can see where I am going with this. Could not the same algorithm help us out with people? It would be so useful to have a scan app to remind me of people’s names, pets, family, interests etc to get me through those awkward silences that descend without warning in social gatherings – ironically just when I find myself distracted by an enticing cheeseboard. I can not keep blaming this brain fog on Covid, It’s no Gouda, I need solutions.

Furthermore, in the world of dating, instead of just swiping right or left, a lot of pain could be eliminated by identifying someone’s real size, shape, colour, spots – perhaps not holes – rather than limiting choice to one heavily filtered photo and a fantasy bio. (#justsaying). To mix a metaphor, we are after a stringy cheese not a mingy cheese.

If we could get around GDPR and privacy laws, I think an app would also be useful in a school context. If only teachers were allowed to take a photo of a student we would then have an algorithm to identify if a uniformed rascal has just given us a false name to buy themself some time while they sneak a vape down their underwear and avoid an after school detention.

There is of course a downside to such appiness, for it is all very well having access to an encyclopaedia of flora and fauna (hugely useful if you are on forage for funghi to supplement your full English breakfast), because sometimes, you do not need an information overload. If you order a family sized pizza for one with a side order of chips and garlic bread (personally I would add a bucket of Ben & Jerry’s), it is unlikely you will welcome a reminder of the calories and fat content that accompany said feast; you are probably not looking for a healthy option alternative in this instant. In such a scenario I would rather be a Laughing greedy Cow with a side order of Dairylea Dunkers than a virtuous healthy eater scanning my Weightwatcher’s app for a get out clause – who wants reduced fat cottage cheese on their pizza anyway? Sometimes we just have to accept that gut instinct can work against you and that tomorrow is another day.

Perhaps this is just a personal Covid hangover that I need to reset. Perhaps I just need to rehone my people-reading skills and start accessing the grey matter that was left to languish during Lockdown. If I can learn – and remember – the names of 9,000 cheeses or 15,000 British funghi varieties – I will most likely become a better person and I will fire up my Hippocampus in the process. If I say so myself, my teacher radar is actually quite good, I just need to trust in my ‘Big Cheese’ instinct again and embed some intertextual learning as I find the evidence to support a lunchtime duty hunch i.e. I could question a student with a Shakespearian dramatic undertone of, ‘Is that a vape I see before me?’ as I extricate them from the girls’ toilets.

And, in the dating game, does anyone really want to know the ghosting history of their potential date – doesn’t everyone deserve a second (third/fourth) chance and a fairytale ending? We can indulge in a smoked cheese occasionally, we can risk kissing a few frogs.

I will end with a warning that if I can raise my personal appiness without relying on technology, I am certain to become a proper social bore and will not get invited outside the house anyway. Infact, I am probably a little late to the cheese and app party here, for someone will have already logged me somewhere on a register of serial blog bores; I am sure that all this data triangulates somewhere in a perfect fondue of cheese induced nightmare. However, if Trivial Pursuits has a resurgence, with my new learning I will be quids in with those pesky little Dairylea segment pieces and I may just cash these in for a bag of cheesy chips.

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