Let’s play the takeaway game… | Jack Marshall’s column

A game’s afoot.
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It’s a game of pushing boundaries whilst never revealing your cards, of expressing indifference masking desire - a sacred and unspoken desire held by everyone in the room which can never be spoken until the final gameplay is in motion. It’s a delicate game, a dance of glances, shrugs, and poker faces. It’s called ‘shall we get a takeaway?’

Every Saturday night, hundreds of thousands of couples across our great nation play this game. In terms of participation numbers, it likely lies somewhere between swimming and tennis in the table of the UK’s most popular sports. Open to all shapes and sizes and players of any ability, it’s an inclusive pursuit; something you can play at home with the whole family.

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It starts with a humble but powerfully loaded question. ‘What’s for tea?’, some sly player will remark. The atmosphere immediately changes. Eyes itching to dart about the room, hungry for reactions, nevertheless remain glued to phones or the TV. Ears prick up. Some even hold their breath. Hold steady. Gauge the room, test the water. A game’s afoot, so play it smart.

Let’s play the takeaway game…Let’s play the takeaway game…
Let’s play the takeaway game…

A fact: the person asking the question ‘what’s for tea?’ wants to get a takeaway. Another fact: the person tasked with answering the question ‘what’s for tea?’ also wants to get a takeaway. But first, a ritual must be performed. A culinary mating dance, only for kebabs and bhunas. It’s not the destination that matters, it’s how you get there. A game must be played.

The objective is simple - to emerge with both a takeaway and a smug sense of superiority which comes with having done the other person a favour by being cajoled into getting a takeaway. So you play your first move. ‘We have that mince in the fridge…’ As if you’re about to rustle up a spag bol. Please. But you’re not about to blink first.

Synchronised badinage begins, with suggestions of increasingly unlikely dishes being thrown out here and there. Then someone decides to strike like a lunging fencer. ‘Shall we just get a takeaway?’ Well played. Handshakes all round. Now you just have to decide what takeaway you’re getting. Which is a whole other game in itself…

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