Dougal was on his fourth cup of tea of the morning and reflecting on his place in life.
“Perhaps I should leave the Magic Garden,” he thought. “Set sail for pastures new.”
It was Brian.
“Is the kettle on, old sugarlump?” he asked.
“It isn’t, as a matter of fact,” sniffed Dougal.
“Might it be, do you think?” asked Brian brightly. “If the right conditions were met?”
“Come in,” said Dougal, grudgingly standing aside. “Since you’ve curtailed my cogitations, you may as well hear their conclusion.”
Dougal made more tea while Brian made himself comfortable.
“I may leave,” declared Dougal.
“Leave what?” asked Brian. “That digestive? I’ll polish it off for you, old crumb.”
“I’m sure there are, my pedigree chum,” chirped Brian.
Brian’s expression did not inspire confidence, but Dougal ploughed on regardless.
“My potential is not being fulfilled,” he complained. “I wish to take back control. Become global.”
“You’re fairly rotund already, old sausage,” observed Brian. “Are you sure you want to go fully globular?”
Dougal ignored this.
“Have you told the others?” asked Brian.
“No relocation without notification!” quipped Brian. “Let’s go and find them.”
Most of the others were at Florence’s house. She had made a delicious cake and a huge pot of tea. Dougal wondered what the tea and cake were like outside the Magic Garden. He was sure they’d be better. Why wouldn’t they be?
He cleared his throat.
“I have a Very Important Announcement,” he announced.
He waited for silence.
“I wish to leave the Magic Garden,” he said loftily.
“All right,” they said.
“I mean it!’ growled Dougal, threateningly. “Don’t try and stop me!”
“I’m serious!” screeched Dougal, running round in a circle. “I’m going to leave the Magic Garden! For ever!!”
“So… no more rides on the Magic Roundabout for you, then?” enquired Mr Rusty, politely.
“Ah,” said Dougal. “Um. Well, there might have to be a Period of Transition. During which I’d still have full access, of course.
“And maybe the odd slice of cake,” he added, eyeing Florence’s lemon drizzle hungrily.
“We can’t have that!” cried Zebedee, arriving through the window with a boing. “It’s against the rules. If you want to ride the roundabout, you’ve got to do your bit for the Garden.”
“No passengers!” guffawed Mr Rusty.
“Everyone plays their part here, Dougal,” explained Florence gently. “Mr McHenry tends the garden, Mr Rusty works the roundabout, Dylan plays music, Zebedee does magic, Ermintrude looks after us all and Brian…”—she pondered for a moment—“Brian adds character. Do you see?”
Dougal did see. He fell silent. He had an inkling what might be coming next.
“And what do you do, exactly, Dougal?” they asked.
Dougal thought for a while.
“On reflection,” he said finally, “I think I’ll remain. Any tea left?”
And there was.
- With apologies to Eric Thompson and Serge Danot. If you like this, read the far funnier The Adventures of Dougal. Or, for more political allegory in the Magic Garden, watch Dougal and the Blue Cat. Illustrations borrowed from Dougal’s Tell the Time Book (Dean & Son Ltd, 1974).