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I believe it may have been me who planted the seed of an idea of moving Mrs. Beeton into Dad’s birdcage upon his passing. I have seen The Mom try and heft her usual cage up and down stairs and it’s enough to make even the calmest of people a nervous wreck.

The cage is about half as tall as The Mom is, and honestly weighs almost the same. Which, in the grand scheme of things isn’t saying much, but when you consider that The Mom lives on her own, and that none of her flock can dial the phone, it can become worrisome.

I imagine getting a message from the neighbours. ‘We haven’t seen The Mom in a while. The flock of ducks outside seems unsettled. They’re been pacing around the house in a strange way for a few days. We’ve rung the doorbell, and tried the phone. No answer. Everything okay?’

If a couple of days pass with no email from The Mom, and she is meant to be at home, with decent wifi, I send an email checking up on her, and she almost always replies rather tersely, pointing out that she does not need people checking up on her.

And what do I imagine the neighbours might find upon entering The Mom’s house in the event of a disaster?

Perhaps The Mom might be lying at the foot of the stairs, the parakeet perched atop her head looking bewildered and annoyed. After the liberal application of wine, The Mom would be revived and they would spend the rest of the week trying to catch the parakeet and force her back into her birdcage.

As an act of defiance and rebellion, Mrs. Beeton would go on hunger strike. Or perhaps she would refuse to engage with anyone, sitting on her perch with her back to the room, impervious to the cooing and treats on offer.

Or perhaps the bird cage would somehow maim The Mom, cutting a deep gash into her tiny little bird leg, so that she would be unable to cart the bird around and the bird would have to suffer an entire summer spent indoors listening to The Mom become increasingly miserable.

At no point, however, would the parakeet feel remorse. Because the parakeet is a pet and understands her position in the family hierarchy quite well. She realises that The Mom is at the top of the human line of things, and what’s more, she understands herself to be at the top of the avian hierarchy. And since everyone knows that pets outrank family members, by at least three to one, the parakeet knows she is at the top of the pecking order. The one plus ultra of ranking family members.

And since she is at the top of the pecking order, the bird knows that she actually doesn’t have to go in the new/old cage. She can flap around and wear The Mom down until she is returned to her princess suite.

At least, that’s what I reckon the bird thinks. What she fails to realise is that The Mom learned how to outlast me and my siblings, and though we can’t fly, we certainly had stamina. The Mom though, always had the last laugh.

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