Like All Cue Games, Relationships Are a Tactical Sport

And tactical I am

“Are you coming to play snooker with me, then?” my wife asks, apropos of nothing. He is lying prostrate on the bed, watching the cricket.

“Is that what you’d like is it?”

“Yes.” Outside is supposedly a sunny summer’s day, but you wouldn’t know it because the curtains are closed to prevent reflections on the telly.

“Why don’t we go later, when it’s dark?”

“Steve and Chandler are over for dinner later.”

“Oh yes. Why is there a plate of sliced bread in the fridge?” Our new flat is more of a studio, so that we can be both checking for dinner ingredients, observing the cricket, and lying in bed at once.

“Don’t ask.”

“Come on then, let’s go.”

We decide to leave at 4:40, then both lounge on the bed separately absorbed in our phones for half an hour. Then I get in the shower.

I hear, rather than see, my wife enter the bathroom. “It’s 4:35 my love.”

“So we’ll be perfectly on time for snooker!”

“Not unless you get out now. What are you doing in there?”

“While I’ve got you, can I ask a favour?” I say from behind the curtain.


“Can you be in charge of dinner tonight?”


“And what is for dinner?”

“Are we not playing snooker first?” he asks.

“No, we are. I just don’t want it to be on my mind while I’m playing.” I rinse, and hear him leaving. “I do want it to be on your mind though!” I shout after him.

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In the nice quiet room at the snooker club I get down on my shot and exhale gently.

“Did you just fart?!” he exclaims.

“No!” Now I am riled.

“Sorry, you just never do.”

“I do sometimes, I’m just not prone to it.”

“I never hear it.”

“Good,” I say. I miss the shot.

“Play the table, don’t play the scoreboard,” my wife advises me. Does he really think I’m playing tactically?

On another table, two men are arguing about whether the event tonight is the club’s Ripper Raffle or Meat Tray Raffle. “It’s Tuesday,” one says. “S’always Ripper Raffle on a Tuesday.” A man who is both bald on top and in possession of elbow length hair behind comes in. “Back again, Kate? You’re making a bad habit of it,” he says cheerfully. I have resigned myself to the fact that this man will always call me Kate.

A decrepit man begins to choke, quietly, on his beer in the corner. Despite covid, or maybe because he is trying to not cough due the pandemically-related connotations of coughing, or maybe because he is so old he cannot muster enough lung capacity to get the beer back up, he splutters softly for an uncomfortably long time. Minutes. I think about what I remember of the Heimlich manoeuvre and whether I’d be up for undertaking it on this barely-alive man. Luckily, he gets it up and stops.

During the fuss, my wife has overtaken me on points, which pleases him no end, despite the fact that he is a cup-winning snooker champion. I think: I preferred it when you used to give me an outrageous advantage and then sulk in the car on the way home.

In the end the game comes down to who can deal with their hanger better, which for once is me. This is mainly because I had a sneaky snack before we left, for this purpose. It’s all in the tactics, you see. All in the tactics.


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