PA­TRICK CARLYON

Sunday Herald Sun - - OPINION -

GEE­LONG re­joiced when Gary Ablett signed for next sea­son. He and Paddy Danger­field are two of the top mid­field­ers in the com­pe­ti­tion. Dou­ble dan­ger, went the no­tion, echo­ing the as­sump­tion that the com­bined tal­ent will blend.

Yet good things don’t al­ways com­bine. Think Cad­bury’s veg­emite and choco­late, which be­longs in a nappy.

Or Bruce McA­vaney and Den­nis Cometti. The foot­ball com­men­ta­tors shared an un­ques­tioned verve. They are the best and they are both giv­ing. Yet their or­bits seemed to some­times col­lide in the same com­men­tary booth. Like plan­ets and com­pet­ing grav­i­ta­tional pulls.

The point? Some­times, two rights can make a wrong. It’s un­clear how long Coca-Cola con­sid­ered this ques­tion be­fore it mixed Coke and cof­fee. The prod­ucts share caf­feine, but one is served cold and the other hot. Coke and cof­fee are sta­ples, true, with wa­ter, beer and nico­tine. Each judged alone, to bor­row from Cometti, is “like find­ing fault with Miss Venezuela”. But Coke is fizzy and sweet, while cof­fee is flat and bit­ter.

Coke is for when it’s hot, cof­fee for when it’s cold. Coke is for the day, ex­cept on a hang­over, when it’s to be guz­zled from the bot­tle within mo­ments of wak­ing.

Cof­fee’s for sip­ping in the morn­ing. One cup, then the next, then the next. Coke — the gen­uine ver­sion, at least — con­sumed the same way is a short­cut to den­tures and di­a­betes.

The con­clu­sion is plain. Coke Plus Cof­fee, re­leased not long ago, doesn’t know if it’s Arthur or Martha. It rep­re­sents the big­gest iden­tity cri­sis since Bruce Jen­ner.

The com­pany spoke of giv­ing peo­ple “more of what they want”. But is this what peo­ple want? Do kindly old ladies want Devon­shire tea served in a Ther­momix trea­cle of scones, jam and English break­fast tea?

Some mu­sic fans like both Guns N’ Roses and Snow Pa­trol, bands who share a tal­ent for slow songs. One act is hard, the other soft. As novel as they first sound, do fans want to hear Snow Pa­trol’s Sweet Child O’ Mine or the Gun­ners’ Chas­ing Cars?

Coke With Cof­fee, goes the of­fi­cial line, is about “more choices”. Potato chip mak­ers have em­braced the same think­ing. Salt and vine­gar has been up­graded to cham­pagne vi­nai­grette and shal­lot. The re­sult is that I alone, or so it seems, like black truf­fle potato chips and ev­ery­one ques­tions my sex­u­al­ity.

More is more, per­haps, but some­times more seems like less.

Sub­way has more choices than a Se­nate bal­lot pa­per and the re­sult­ing ham roll of my choos­ing sits as slop­pily as democ­racy.

Who hasn’t been to Bun­nings to buy a screw­driver and dis­cov­ered three op­tions are bet­ter than 23? Why are there so many kinds of milk? Are there dif­fer­ent kinds of cow, branded with A2 or lac­tose free? Where are the skinny cows that look kind of pleased with them­selves?

“Un­ex­pected”, says Coca-Cola of the match­ing. That is true enough, much as the pair­ing of Don­ald Trump and the pres­i­dency, or Rich­mond and a pre­mier­ship, can be ac­cepted as facts but nev­er­the­less seems sur­pris­ing each time they are re­called afresh. Once Coke used to be sim­ple. It in­cluded co­caine a long time ago. The gen­uine ver­sion still oozes sugar. Coke was sim­ple.

Au­thor and thinker Mal­colm Glad­well has made the same point about McDon­ald’s fries. It was bad — so it tasted good. Now there are lots of op­tions. Coke With Cof­fee tastes like sparkling Nescafe, as though some­one has shaken that big old tin and forced you to scull in a work­place haz­ing ri­tual. It smells like cof­fee but tick­les the back of the throat like a soft drink. If it’s the best of both, is it not also miss­ing the best of both?

Again, to bor­row from Cometti, it seems to suf­fer from “delu­sions of ad­e­quacy”. Coke and cof­fee is not Cheech and Chong, but Bruce and Den­nis — at their great­est when sep­a­rated from the other. It’s the sort of dis­trac­tion that might leave you, as Cometti once said, feel­ing like “a St Bernard in a heat­wave”. PA­TRICK CARLYON IS A SUN­DAY HER­ALD SUN COLUM­NIST pa­trick.carlyon@news.com.au

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