Terence the Lovebird lies in Fluffy Oakes’s lap, nuzzling into his thigh. The tiny but vibrant bird is overwhelmed with life in general.
I’m a little more optimistic. “I’ve asked you a lot about yourself over the last few years,” I tell Fluffy. “I’d like to ask you about me, if I may. I think you could point me in the right direction.”
“We’re nothing but animals,” Fluffy points out, “as The Bloodhound Gang once divulged.”
Terence rolls his eyes.
“I moved out two years ago now,” I say, “and I’ve had to battle like a motherfucker to get the kind of direction and help that I needed- but you’ve given me most of that help along the way. There’s just a few minor things I’d still like to ask you about.”
“Anything, man.” His head tilts. An eyebrow raises. “Anything.”
I shift. “Okaaay…” I flip my notebook. “I’ve been using this Keda Black cookbook and-“
“Oh, yeah, yeah,” he interrupts. “Too complicated. I admire your bravery for ploughing into it, but I can sense you’re losing your enthusiasm for cooking. I would, if I’d been ploughing through Keda.” He glances to Terence, who’s oblivious. “So to speak.”
“Do Delia Smith first.” He pulls out How To Cook Volume 1, flipping it over in his hands so the cover faces me. “Much simpler. It’s for everyone. Keda generally didn’t go into enough detail at each step, I gather from your posts. And the meals were a little unusual. I mean, why put the mind-bending Bechmel sauce as the first recipe? Weird. And why leave the simplicity of scrambled eggs until page 14, in comparison? Lets see a few blog posts based on Delia. It’ll be good because- as I’m sure you’ve noticed- there isn’t much info on the net about people with memory difficulties learning to cook. You’re carving that niche. But I would say, make it obvious in each post that the memory issue is something that is a factor when YOU cook, and how it makes your cooking and learning experience different to everyone else.”
“Can do. You know, I kind of slacked off with cooking as so many of the meals were so complicated, and I felt robbed of time by performing the recipes. It took me maybe an hour or two to cook a meal that I’d devour in ten minutes flat. I’m hoping Delia won’t rape me in that way, you know?”
Fluffy bites a sunflower seed, shelling it, and feeds the rest to Terence, who continues to stare into space.
“You’re a competent enough chef,” says Fluffy. “There’s little chance of Delia raping you in the near future.” He wipes Terence’s beak. “Sorry if that disappoints you, though.” He winks.
“Yes. Well.” I shuffle notes. “Oh. I wanted to ask about phones. My contract’s coming to an end, and I wanted to ask someone who knows about memory as to which phone or contract would be best. My current phone crashes all of the time, which is why I’m not going to GiffGaff- I need an actual handset with more memory and a better camera.”
“Well, I don’t have, y’know, more knowledge about phones in particular, but I know that newer phones don’t crash as much. Now- when do you use your phone mostly?”
“All times. Internet during the day, an occasional call in the evening, texts at all times, although not as much now I’ve got Facebook Mobile.”
“No landline at home?”
“Do you Skype?”
“No, but I probably should.”
“You should. Skype to Skype calls are free.”
“Facebook Webcams do a similar thing too.”
“Facebook cams are ran with Skype software anyway. So, if you used those two instead of your phone, whenever possible, you’d hardly need any call time at all, which will reduce your bill exponentially. But here’s what I’d do- Three are going to phone you to get you to renew your contract, so take the hard approach with them. Tell them you’re thinking of going to GiffGaff and they’ll start throwing deals at you. Keep it at £20 a month. Tell them you want unlimited internet. There are places doing that now, so Three should if they want to keep your custom. List out what you want. Tell them if you don’t get that, you’re going to GiffGaff. They’ll come up with something. They’ll have to.”
Terence airs his wings and delicately starts to climb the arm of Fluffy’s tweed jacket.
“Erm… The only other thing… I wanna mention…” I scratch the side of my head with a pen. Something twists in my stomach.
Terence is now standing on fluffy's shoulder- not muzzling his ear or curling into himself- he's standing tall, chest out and chin high, like a parrot should. He's waiting for me to continue.
They both are.