The old (and cruelly unfunny) BBC TV show 'Allo Allo' featured René, a beleagured Parisian cafe owner faced with occupying Nazis, flirty waitresses, posh British airmen hidden in wardrobes and stereotypes a-go-go.
My abiding memory of an otherwise pretty questionable stab at comedy is how René would stuff his ears with cheese whenever his wife would head toward the piano to give the punters a song- whether they wanted one or not. The woman couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, so the fromage saved both his hearing and his temper from terminal damage.
I encountered two examples of 'cheese-ears' this weekend. The first was Moira, a lady who repeatedly refuses to listen to what you've asked her for and plows on to deliver what she wants you to have. In her quest to get her own voice heard above others, she's stuffed so much camembert in her lugholes she doesn't know what's expected of her any more. This is frustrating for those of us who are relying on her to deliver, and who know that if she unclogged them a bit, she could.
The second example was Paula, who I met for the first time on Saturday in a rain-soaked and freezing Croydon. This lady has fibromyalgia, a heart condition and has lost a leg to diabetes. She's developed cheese-ears in response to being told she can't. She's heard the phrase "...your limitations" so often, she's developed an inability to hear negativity for negativity's sake. As a result she's a respected, committed and super-smart campaigner and one heck of a compelling public speaker.
Both have adopted the same tactic, but the results couldn't be more different. Working with Paula is a delight. Moira frustrates people, and we now try to avoid relying on her.
So have you got cheese in your ears where some people or topics are concerned? Is it helping you block out the bum notes, or are you missing out on the sweet songs?