COLM O'REGAN: Going to the chipper brings so many tiny joys

WHEN you’ve been with someone a long time, you just know. You don’t have to say anything. It’s in the eyes. We exchange glances and giggle. With easy familiarity, I make my move — out the door and down to the chipper, says Colm O’Regan.

The decision to get a takeaway is one of the AFI (ah feck it) moments of adult life. Other AFIs include going to the off-licence, throwing all the clothes from the bed onto the floor and taking one look at a jar of gone-off something and just putting it in the evil landfill bin. They are just temporary lapses in the doctrine of ‘Doing The Right Thing’ which bring a little guilt afterwards. Although, chippers aren’t so guilty any more, now that it turns out that it was sugar was making us fat all along. Plus, going to the chipper brings so many tiny joys.

There is that beautiful moment when the takeaway is brought home and placed triumphantly on the table. A form of amnesia occurs where some people conveniently forget what they’ve ordered just so they can experience the Christmas morning feeling of surprise as they unwrap the bundles of delight.

“What’s this? Oooh it’s the battered sausage!!” trills someone excitedly. Then the bag with the chips is opened.

There is no other brown paper bag on Earth quite like the brown paper bag of chips. The bag itself commands respect. Proper chip establishments will provide one which is lined with a white inner bag known in Latin as the chipidermis. From the moment that the man in the takeaway puts an extra shovel into the bag right to the time the last piece of chip shrapnel (or chipnel) is crunched, it’s hard to find a more satisfying experience than eating chips from a bag.

What is astonishing is that the chip is apparently little over 100 years old. Given how perfectly in tune with human existence it is, why wasn’t it invented sooner? How could any self respecting civilisation have prioritised inventing writing above creating a means to deep fry chopped potatoes? Writing should only have been discovered as a means of communicating the price of chips.

It takes willpower to transport the chips home without pilferage. You won’t tackle the burger while in the car — it’s too complicated and messy, and anyway, She’s going to notice. But it is tempting to reach over with the left hand to take one or two chips. Not too many, just a few from the extra shovel. No one will miss them.

Once home, the chip bags are ripped open and a communal pile can be constructed. At this stage, some one in the group — one with a logical brain who abhors disorder — may at this point intervene with “I’ll get some plates for the chips”. Don’t let them. Resist this veneer of civilisation. As soon as the chips are placed on the pristine white plate, something is lost. It’s like the switching on of the lights at the nightclub.

No, the chips stay on the brown paper. Soon the party is in full swing. The fizzy drink is cracked open. There’s all sorts of licentious behaviour going on. Battered sausages are inside in burgers. Onion rings are being dipped in garlic mayonnaise. It’s like Sodom and Gomorrah on Takeaway Night.

Next morning, you feel dirty, unsatisfied. Yes you had a good time but it seems hollow. “Don’t look at me like that,” you tell the porridge. “It’s you I love. Last night meant nothing. It was just a fling. It’s over.” But you know you’re weak. Before long, you’ll be back knocking at the takeaway door. Looking for fast love.


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