IN the early months of 1971 I was leading a small, lightweight patrol through the vast northern rainforests of the Great Papuan Plateau.
We were looking for a small and elusive group of people rumoured to live there.
Most of the day had been spent wallowing through a sort of everglade swamp. When we finally got out of it, by sheer luck we picked up a narrow forest path. That cheered us up because we hoped it might lead us to our quarry.
We proceeded stealthily, as quietly as possible. The two policemen and I were swapped the lead every so often, not for any particular strategic reason but because we had a small wager going about who would be first to spot the creators of the path.
So it was by pot luck that I was first to see the Coca-Cola can.
This was before Coke cans had ring-pulls or pop-tops. We used bottle openers. In those days the openers came with a V-shaped tip used for pressing drinking holes into the cans.