Where’s Tufty?

I know what you’re thinking – well, obviously I don’t (and wouldn’t it be disturbing if I did?), unless it’s “Doesn’t he have something better to do with his time?”, but I know what I’d be thinking if I were you – does the world really need a series of books in which the viewer tries to find a myopic squirrel, wearing a stripy jumper and bobble hat, in a crowded scene?  Whilst I don’t know the answer to this question, I am concerned that I would be transgressing the intellectual property rights of at least one person (either corporeal or corporate) should I go ahead.  Lacking the funding for the legal protection of a super-injunction, this blog will try to steer clear of such obvious plagiarism.

When I was a nipper, the teaching of road safety was entrusted to the paws of Tufty the squirrel and his woodland pals.  After all this time, I don’t recall if Tufty was a red or grey squirrel, but given the amount of my childhood which was in black and white, I suspect he may have been grey (whatever his species)  We are, of course, going a long way back – in those far off days, there were only three TV stations and days in the week and the human eye had yet to develop cones.

Tufty – who was a bit goody-goody for my taste – was very keen that we should find a gap in the parked cars (which in those days, did not require many miles of hiking) and look right and left and right again before we stepped out into the road (I think he was probably also quite keen that if we saw an oncoming vehicle whilst looking, then we should wait rather than stepping out regardless).  Squirrels, however careful they are with the traffic, have but a limited time upon the earth and I think Tufty was later replaced by Darth Vader (if nothing else, definitely not too goody-goody – and a man you’d think twice before crossing (a principle which should also be applied to roads)).

I was reminded of Tufty, and my early road safety training, by the tendency of pedestrians in Cambridge to walk out into the road without looking at all.  Indeed, they often seem to walk down the middle of the road without an apparent care in the world, spurning the empty footpaths provided for their benefit.  I have wondered if they hail from foreign climes where wheeled transport is unknown (though this must be in ever diminishing portions of our crowded planet) – but have had to reject this theory.  Even rabbits – not known for their intellectual prowess – have sufficient wherewithal to get out of the way of an oncoming bicycle or motorised conveyance (even if they are not always successful). Having recently listened to an episode of  “In Our Time” on the subject of free will and the nature of determinism (not helped by quantum theory, I’m afraid) I wonder if the denizens of East Anglia have been gripped by a sense of fatalism.  If everything has been determined, and there is no free will, then why apply even basic common sense when crossing the road?

Whilst I find determinism very persuasive, I think I am a compatibilist and so will continue applying such basic common sense (the least common of all the senses) as I possess to my everyday activities in the fond hope of prolonging the suffering of these reading this blog.

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2 thoughts on “Where’s Tufty?

  1. matathew says:

    Ah yes, I also remember the goody-goody Tufty Fluffy-tail. A fairly irritating creature, as I recall, even to an irritating small child such as myself. My scholarly research (done a few moments ago, not when I was an irritating small child) into such matters as his fur colour, inspired by your post, has by chance turned up this Tufty Club gem:

    The actions:
    http://www.scarysquirrel.org/tufty/sheetmusic/sheet4.jpg

    The whole song:
    http://www.scarysquirrel.org/tufty/sheetmusic/

  2. Stuart Ffoulkes says:

    I don’t remember the dance moves – so either we were spared them at primary school, or merciful time has drawn an obscuring veil over such disturbing memories. And, let’s face it – they are no match for YMCA or the Timewarp are they?

    The latter link makes my conjoining of the Tufty Club with the compatibilist position on free will look rather tame. I’m fairly sure my local members of the Sciuridae have few ambitions beyond stealing the bird’s food and converting Sawston into a walnut grove – but I will keep my eyes open for more sinister developments…

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