Yesterday, I became embroiled in a discussion with my wife Karen and her sister Sue about nicknames. During this cordial conversation my spouse raised the origins of my brother Ian’s longstanding nom d’plume of Cheese.

My spouse referring to a moniker I coined for our kid in the mid 1970’s, after concluding his early nickname of ‘E’ (short for his name, pronounced E-an) was a woeful nickname creativity wise.

Agreeing with Karen’s sentiments, I gave myself a good talking to regarding my lack of childhood creativity at selecting the alternate moniker of ‘E’……  Sadly, I undertook this conversation in Russian, meaning I’d no idea of the self-admonishment’s content***.

*** – I know that doesn’t make sense; however what are we without the blessed wild card of artistic licence?….. I’ll tell you, we’re mere pawns in the chess game of life, hamstrung by the parameters in which we’re expected to exist. Shackled by conformity, adherence to the mainstream and negation of being able to write any old b*ll*cks.


The photograph above was snapped around the period our kid’s nickname of Cheese commenced it’s evolution. A time when I introduced the inaugural prototype moniker of Edam – A title I gave him as it was an extension of ‘E’, along with the fact Ian had a mane of white hair similar in colour to the Dutch cheese.

In the fledgling weeks of Edam, I was reasonably contented with the new name I’d bequeathed to my younger sibling; something he also seemed to embrace. Being capricious of nature, though, after a few weeks I grew bored of the name. A feeling probably exacerbated by the fact no one among our friends had at this vantage adopted it to address our kid.

With this in mind Edam was revamped. Consequently, courtesy of my overbusy mind, our Ian/E/Edam (delete where applicable) became Edam Cheesehead. Admittedly, a less slick brand name for Ian Strachan; however I was prepared to risk criticism for introducing additional syllables in his title, feeling it reflected more on his trademark white bonce. His calling card of brilliant white hair, which was almost albino-esque appearance.

The two worded title may have been more of a mouthful, but I felt suffixing Edam with the word Cheesehead gave it potential to evolve into a nickname people would eventually adopt.

After a short period of using this silly moniker, though, I felt the two name title required further tweaking prior to rolling it out for approval on the Oakfield Junior School playground. Consequently shedding the Edam element of my sibling’s pseudonym to now address him as just Cheesehead.

It was at this point of the nickname’s evolution where small numbers of friends began adopting the title to address our kid.

I, though, still thought the name wasn’t quite where it needed to be to achieve the longevity I sought for Strachan junior. Feeling I needed to reduce the syllables in Cheesehead, I now had the conundrum of taking the nickname on a step by changing it to Cheese or Head.

Deeming that Head as a ridiculous alternative moniker with little chance of being adopted, Cheese was born….. Well, the nickname was. My brother’s birth was around nine years earlier.

From that day in the early/mid 1970’s, the majority of friends, family, teachers and acquaintances have chosen to address my brother as Cheese, or variations such as  Cheesy.

As the young project manager for the creation of this spanking new nickname, I was delighted by it’s success. In particular as it was implemented within budget and with few issues; apart from perhaps the requirement for more tweaks than I’d have liked, mainly due to my poor research and User Acceptance Testing (UAT).

Forty years on, our kid still predominantly gets addressed as Cheese by his peers. There are very few who don’t utilise his nickname in preference to Ian.

The only people who won’t countenance using his alternative moniker are members of the pithily named ‘Pelaw Refusal to Call Anyone Cheese Society’ (PRCACS)…… Oh, and me!……. I very rarely utilise the nickname, bizarrely re-adopting the title of ‘E’ for my sibling many years back. The very name I deemed unfit for purpose and abandoned over four decades ago.

Before I close, yesterday’s nickname discussion with my wife and her sister unearthed some interesting news about my wife’s current circle of friends. In particular, the fact lots of them possess the name Jean.

As a an ‘ingenious’ strategy to help her and friends differentiate, my spouse has different nicknames for all the Jeans. Subsequently, she know her buddies as ‘Little Jean’, ‘Medium Sized Jean’, ‘Tall Jean’, ‘Even Taller Jean’, ‘Ginger Jean’ and ‘Posh Jean’.

What intrigued me about the nicknames is ‘Little Jean’ is taller than ‘Medium Sized Jean’. Not to mention the bizarre fact ‘Tall Jean’ is the same height as ‘Even Taller Jean’.

I was also interested to note there’s a ‘Ginger Jean’ and a ‘Posh Jean’. Sadly, though, in the absence of ‘Sporty Jean’, ‘Scary Jean’ and ‘Baby Jean’ my hopes of a Middle-Aged Spice Girl tribute band died a death.

What was Cheesy boy’s nickname for his older brother? Well he shortened Gary to Gaz. A move that can be deemed as poor creatively, or more likely that he just isn’t as big an idiot as me!

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