Monthly Archives: March 2010

Scuppers the Sailor Dog – A Golden Book Guide for How to Live a Happy Life

The other night I was reading a bedtime story to The Littlest Princess and she asked, “Dad, what’s your favourite bedtime story?”  I gave it some thought and the next night I read it to her; The Sailor Dog. 

It’s a 1950’s Golden Book classic, and it was awarded to me as a prize in school in 1972.   My bright, 6 year old eyes gazed at the cover which showed Scuppers leaning over the bow of his small boat staring into his telescope, and returning to my desk I read the words on the first page, “Born at sea in the teeth of a gale…” at that moment I was hooked. 

That little book had everything you needed to know to live a good life.  For example, Life Goals:  Scuppers did not want to be a farmer he was a sailor.  He did not want to travel by train, car, plane or submarine, he was a sailor dog so he needed a boat. 

Persistence:  He continued searching until he found a boat which was ‘just right’.  The sails are patched, the ropes knotted, and the paintwork a little faded, but you can tell by the way he’s lovingly cleaned every inch of it, that he has learned the very important lesson of ‘Do the best you can at all times with what is available to you’. 

After a day of happy sailing he goes to sleep that night content that everything is stored in its’ proper place.  Scuppers is not only neat and tidy, but careful to look after his equipment.  He does not have any excessive gear on board either, and is obviously not a fan of clutter. 

Unfortunately for our hero he wakes up on a foreign beach, alone, and discovers he has been shipwrecked.  No long angry rants at Fate for our Scuppers.  Neither does he panic.  Instead, he weighs up his options, then sets about salvaging what he can, builds himself a small hut, finds some food, and settles in for the night on a bed made of pine leaves.  He is not only a master of versatility, adapting, and overcoming, but has obviously studied Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  He has also learned, like the Apostle Paul, to be content in any and all circumstances.   

That night he dreams, and in his dreams he see’s that if he can build a hut, then he can repair his boat.    Scuppers does not procrastinate.  He is a ‘Doer’.  It’s one thing to dream and plan, but dreams only come to fruition with Action.  And the next day that’s exactly what he does, and before too long he is back on the ocean waves.

He sails onward until he finds a safe haven in a foreign port, and here he teaches us about  knowing your limitations.  His old boat is entrusted to trained craftsmen, who remove his emergency patch and repaired the hole properly.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Onshore he is shown waving to a burka clad woman, Scuppers is tolerant, polite and friendly to everyone he meets.  A good policy indeed.    

Once his boat is ready, he kits himself out in some new clothes, and buys some fruit and other provisions for his journey.  Here he teaches us not only the importance of good grooming and diet, but prioritising and budgeting.  His boat is repaired first, then he buys his provisions. 

Soon he is back at sea, ready for more adventures, and prepared to face any other challenges that await him.  He has persisted, overcome, and continuing on.    Now this is quite important.  Note that he has not turned back home, he has pushed on.  Scuppers has not rushed back to his safe harbour, sold his boat and spent the rest of his life avoiding the beach and telling anyone who will listen his tale of woe.  Instead he has learned that bad things happen, and that this is a normal part of the whole life experience.  He teaches us the importance of learning from these events, and pushing on.  The last picture is of him leaning over his bow, and peering ahead.  He does not dwell on the past, keeps his eye fixed on the future, and revels in the here and now joy of doing what he loves most.  Sailing.  Scuppers, is a a Sailor Dog.              

I finished reading the story to my daughter and even sang her the little song that Scuppers had written about himself (in which he teaches us the value of being creative as well!), and I tell her that this is my all time favourite bedtime story. 

She has reserved her opinion for the time being.


Filed under Life & Thoughts

Mondays’ Column – Lost in Transit 1.3.10

Like most folk in Gladstone, we make an annual pilgrimage to Brisbane either for a holiday, to catch a show, or to have our pockets emptied at the shops or casino.  It’s also a chance for us to drive on all the new roads which our region has undoubtedly paid for. 

Recently I was travelling along a motorway so new that some of the signs hadn’t been erected yet, and as a result, missed my turnoff to the city and was instead funnelled along an exit-less concrete corridor towards the Gateway Bridge, miles from my destination.    

Crossing the river I saw that the toll booths had been removed and misguidedly thought that we long suffering taxpayers had finally paid off the bridge debt.  Nope.  There is now an E-toll system in place which photographed my cars registration plate.        

Eventually I located a Main Roads office and enquired about paying the e-toll.  “It’s not a Government charge, you can’t pay it here!” snapped the woman at the information cubicle.

“Well, where can I pay it then?” I asked. 

“I don’t know, but you’d better pay it soon or you’ll get a hefty fine.” 

A bloke standing in line behind me gave me the number, and I tottered off to find a working pay phone.  A computer generated voice asked me a list of questions, then demanded my credit card details.  As I hadn’t been advised of the fee I asked to speak to a real person.

“If you absolutely must talk with a human being, you dull-eyed moron, then press 0,” responded the computer.    

“What’s the problem?” asked the operator.

“Look,” I said, “I’ve accidentally crossed the Gateway Bridge, and just want to pay the toll.”

“Why didn’t you use the electronic option?”

“Because, fool that I am, I wanted to know how much I’m being charged!”

She told me, and then asked for the name of my first born child, favourite colour, shoe size and promotion prospects.  I supplied all this, and felt my wallet spasm as the money vanished from my account.  “There,” she said, “that wasn’t so hard was it?”

“No miss,” I mumbled.  Driving back towards the city, I pondered the fate of all the friendly and efficient toll booth attendants, ‘Sacked in the name of progress and profit, just like the poor old checkout chicks,’ I mused, and missed my turnoff again.  Too late I realised my error, and bleating like a herded sheep, drove up the wrong motorway on-ramp for another e-fleecing.

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Filed under Columns, Writing