Friday, 28 March 2014

Give Me Coffee and No-one Gets Hurt

Sometimes I think the definitions of ‘drug’ use in sport are a bit harsh.  If writing blogs was a professional sport, I might just get caught out.  Yes, I have a confession to make: my writing today is drug assisted.  It’s only 10 o’clock in the morning, and I’m already full of Columbia’s finest.  Coffee, that is.

Seeing everyone these days seems to be copping to coffee to boost their performance, I thought I might as well get in on the act.

Was just thinking about food etiquette. (Is there such a thing?)  If so, when did ordering coffee become so complicated?  There’s something seriously wrong with the world when it takes you less time to drink the coffee than it takes to order the bloody thing.  At some of the newer chains, you actually need a coffee just to have the energy to order one.

I should confess now that when it comes to coffee, I’m hardly a connoisseur.  In fact, I’d say I’m pretty old-school.  I also drink it black.  Not because I prefer it that way, but I’m lactose intolerant. (It turns out I’m intolerant to a lot of things – milk, celery, boiled potatoes and particularly people who check their account balance at the ATM before taking out money. I mean you either have it or you don’t. Have a crack!)

But I digress.

These days some people take drinking coffee way too seriously.  Some even think the sort of coffee you drink reflects the kind of sexual partner you look for.  Sadly, my favourite coffee at the time of my last partner, was weak, full-fat, flat white!

Of course, you could order a decaf, but coffee without caffeine has always seemed a little like non-alcoholic beer to me – they both belong in the bin marked “What’s the Point”. I believe others order a decaf skim-milk coffee, which, as far as I can work out, is actually a glass of water.

But it gets worse. I know people who order ‘froth on the side’. What the …..?  I mean, I kind of get it if you don’t like froth, but what’s the deal with having it on the side?  Sure someone on a diet might order salad dressing or butter on the side, but froth?  I haven’t read the articles closely, but I’m pretty sure the recent rise in childhood obesity isn’t directly attributable to an excess of froth.

So you can now order your coffee with milk on the side, sugar or honey on the side and froth on the side.  Well, why stop there? Why not have the coffee on the side? And the water too.  Why not just walk into Starbucks and order an empty cup with everything on the side?

In case you think I’m being ridiculous here, the other day, I heard someone order a ‘no water coffee’.  What does that mean?  Do they just get you to open your mouth, and they put a spoonful of Nescafé on your tongue?

As if all the complicated styles of coffee aren’t enough, people also have stupid slang words for their daily fix. I was having breakfast with a caffeine addict friend of mine this morning, and when I went to order, she interrupted “Just ask for a Gary Coleman”. A what? I studied the menu for about 10 minutes before I realized she meant a short black.

And tell me this, when did everyone in the world become a barista? Maybe I’m wrong, but it was my understanding that in the old days this title used to imply that the person had a specific set of skills and expertise. Now it seems that any donkey they let fire up the cappuccino machine automatically qualifies.  Surely that’s like the pimply teenager who cooks the fries at Maccas referring to himself as a chef, or the kid on the little aeroplane ride out  the front of the local shopping centre calling himself a pilot.

Another thing, can someone please fill me in on when coffee cups became so big?  There used to be two sizes – cup or mug.  When did they decide to start serving it in buckets?

I was in Tasmania recently and I ordered a small coffee.  The cup I was presented with looked less like you could sip from it, and more like Federer should be raising it above his head after winning a tennis tournament.  And that was the ‘small’. I mean why the hell does anyone in Tassie need to drink that much coffee?  I’ll be perfectly honest with you, there’s really not much going on there that requires you to stay awake.

However, I don’t think it’s caffeine consumption that’s giving Australia headaches. It’s bingeing on booze, right?  I read the headlines recently “Does Australia have a drinking problem?”

Yes, and it’s time to put politics to one side and have a sensible debate on how to ensure Australians drink safely and responsibly.

No, the only problem we have is when the booze runs out.

The way I see it, if we are to have a realistic and productive debate about Australia’s drinking culture, first we have to acknowledge Australia has a drinking culture.

And it does. After all, we live in a country where our two famous sporting statistics are 99.94 and 52  -  99.94 is, of course, Sir Donald Bradman’s batting average and 52 is the number of cans David Boon is rumoured to have consumed on a flight to London for an Ashes tour.

Most Aussies are not wowsers.  A lot of us enjoy a drink.  And I know it’s not politically correct to say this in public anymore, but a lot of people enjoy a drink because – and lets linger on this for just a moment – drinking when done responsibly, can be fun.

Bugger it, if we’re being honest, let’s be completely honest. Sometimes drinking can be lots of fun when it is done irresponsibly.  Some of my best memories are the ones I can’t remember.

This is the dirty secret of the drinking debate.  A lot of people drink to excess because it’s fun.  Yes it can also be dangerous and destructive, but if we’re going to move forward in this debate, we first have to acknowledge this simple but important point.

Regardless of what people might think is ideal in a perfect world, we live in a country which a certain percentage of the population sees the recommended alcohol limit, not as a warning, but as a challenge.

And does this surprise anyone?  Remember this is a country where more people know the words to the VB advert than the National Anthem.  We will never be able to fully combat the problems associated with binge drinking until we admit that a lot of ordinary Australians often drink to get drunk.

So however hard the government might try to convince us, our problems are not going to be solved by raising taxes if we don’t first deal with the fact that, in our culture, if a news report suggests it’s healthy to drink two glasses of wine a day, we tend to think, “Well, imagine how healthy I’d feel if I drank two bottles a day!”

Again, I digress … come on Kate!!!

Drugs in sport. From AFL to Rugby, players have been professing to popping pre-game pills to perk peak performance.
Ex Wallabies captain George Gregan once said a couple of caffeine tablets could increase performance by 7%, which, at least, goes some way to explaining what footballers mean, I post match interviews when they say “the boys gave 110% today”.

Of course, if you really need to take caffeine tablets to stay awake, the question should be asked “how bloody boring is your sport?”  Surely instead of footballers, it should be lawn bowlers and synchronized swimmers who are popping cups of cappuccino.

Authorities are also worried if high-profile sportspeople admit to taking caffeine tablets impressionable kids might copy this behavior.  Luckily these days, kids are too busy smoking, swearing, taking drugs, pouring beer over themselves or sending dirty texties to even notice.

I don't even remember why I started this and what my point was!!!!

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