nce upon a time, in a pleasant enclosure in a wildlife park, there lived a koala called Tim. He was a serene and happy marsupial, who liked nothing better than to contemplate the world through the bars of his enclosure, while meditatively chewing on a eucalyptus leaf.
In the enclosure next to him, there lived a group of monkeys. One morning, one of the monkeys swung over to the edge of the enclosure and accosted Tim.
“Oi Tim! What’s up? What’ya doing?”
“I’m eating a leaf,” said Tim.
“Eating a leaf!” repeated the monkey, “Eating a leaf! Is that all you do? This is eating!” He grabbed a banana from the floor of his cage, nimbly swung onto the roof and turned upside down, swinging from one arm while eating the banana with the other.
“What d’you think of that, eh? Eh? Eh? Bit more impressive than your…eating a leaf.”
“Very good,” said Tim.
“You can’t do stuff like that,” sneered the monkey. “I’ve seen you climb a tree. It’s pathetic.”
“I like to do things slowly,” said Tim.
“Ooh, slowly,” jeered the monkey, “any slower and you’d freeze…don’t you ever do anything interesting?”
“No,” said Tim, “I don’t like to hurry.”
“Well, dullard, I’m off,” said the monkey. “Seeya.”
Tim settled down and chewed another leaf. Then a second. Then a third. He made his way to the bottom of one of his trees and began to climb it. Slowly. At last, he reached his favourite fork and relaxed, legs dangling, preparing for a pleasant morning’s contemplation.
But the monkey’s words began to prey on his mind… “dullard”; “slowly”; “pathetic”. Was there something wrong with him? Was he the only animal in the park who did things slowly?
The questions refused to go away. He slept. He climbed down the tree. He chewed on some leaves. But still the question haunted his mind. And at last, after several hours’ contemplation, they formed themselves into a plan.