Reviewed by Wendy Lipke
The Honey Badger guide to Life by Nick Cummins, as the title, cover and author suggest, is a blokey book, so why did I, a female septuagenarian decide to see what this book was all about?
I suppose it was the cover which on the front sports a formally attired Cummins with a white cockatoo on his shoulder, staring straight at you. The back cover also has photos of Cummins, recording some of his exploits. One can’t not know who he is as his face often looks out at you from the TV. He’s that Tradies Undies guy, that rugby guy and The Bachelor.
The Foreword, written by his father, Mark, tells us that his son is a ‘a refreshing change to our straight up and down existence… who says the things we would like to say and does the things we would only dream of doing… Rules aren’t being broken but they are certainly being bent’. He is very proud of this former rugby player son whose skill and determination were applauded by crowds around the world. Armed with a ute-load of humour and a personality to match, Nick reminds us of the slowly disappearing fair dinkum Aussie.
The chapters which follow are full of these characteristics so the language and humour can get a bit on the ‘blue’ side at times.
‘Chapters’ is probably not the correct word to use. The book doesn’t have what we normally understand as chapters but a multitude of reminiscences including his own personal thoughts and beliefs about certain issues. Many of these short stories (1-4 pages) are accompanied by Honey Badger Guide to Life statements.
E.g. #4 Worry less – you won’t achieve anything by worrying,
although it’s a normal reaction to things that trouble us.
Do the best you can, then let it go. How often have we stressed
ourselves, and the next day, all is cool?
There are nineteen of these gems within the book. Also scattered throughout the book are shortcummins statements with apparent Australianisms or maybe Australian-bloke-isms like ‘A million-dollar airport with a ten-cent control tower’ (p163). Fortunately an explanation accompanies such statements each of which also features the cockatoo from the front cover.
Sixteen pages of glossy photos, depicting some of his many experiences can be found near the middle of the book.
There are stories of three Rogue Champions: Private Bruce Steel Kingsbury VC, Reg ‘Snowy’ Baker and Kurt Fearnby AO which highlight personal characteristics which Cummins admires.
Other topics included are about places, both overseas and in most states of Australia, where he has been and situations he has found himself in and other topics rarely discussed such as; The Man Hug, Forgiveness, A Few Clues about Chivalry and things learned from his own experiences on how to behave – Wedding Etiquette & Being the Man (the Best Man); How to Finish up with a Bird; All in the Family.
It is very obvious throughout the book that the writer is a young sportsman’s man and the humour, exploits and language fit this demographic. However, the layout of the book with short stories, broken up with words of wisdom or otherwise from the author, make it an easy book to read. There is also evidence that this media tart has a serious side and his philosophy on life could have meaning for all, whether young or old, male or female.
Although I cringed in parts of the book the larrikinness of the author is hard to resist. In his views for the future Nick Cummins wrote, ‘I want to add to Australia’s reputation (and) the other thing I want to do is to leave this planet a better place than I found it. On a higher level it’s about raising the vibrations. It’s about putting out some good vibes and changing things up…….. I want to be that little bit of light, that little bit of giggle – because a bit of Badger can make a lot of difference, it really can’ (207).
As for the book he has written, he says ‘to accomplish anything worthwhile takes effort and it’s a helluva lot easier if like-minded people come along for the ride………If you get something out of the book, great stuff. If not, use the pages to start the next BBQ. Take care and see ya round the ridges.’
I felt that there were truths in the book that might help teenagers who struggle with their role in society and which they might listen to coming from this celebrity. However, in my advanced years, I would not like to see these same people try to emulate some of the antics he has got up to.
I enjoyed going through the book. It was easy to read and well thought out in its presentation. At times he seemed like a modern day Steve Irwin but with a wider canvas. There is much to admire about Nick Cummins’s attitude to life and if you are prepared to gloss over some of the parts that might appear a little in-your-face (depending on your age and beliefs), then I would recommend this book to others.
By Nick Cummins