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My passion is genealogy and family history. I host a podcast about Australian family history, Genies Down Under. In my day job, I work as a lecturer and a researcher in higher education, teaching pre-service teachers.

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Monday, 25 April 2016

The twenty-first step in my A-Z of quirky ancestor antics - U is for up a shark's ^!@%

Please don't read this blogpost if you are offended by slightly off language. I'm having trouble finding a topic for U in the A-Z series of my quirky ancestor antics. So, I'm going to rely on an older blogpost I wrote in 2011. It's about debt collection, a shark and the titanic. Leave this blog now if you are concerned about the use of impolite phrases.

debt collector
Source: http://thebluediamondgallery.com/d/debt-collector.html (Creative Commons Licence)

File:Shark fish chondrichthyes.jpg

RMS Titanic 3.jpg

Apparently one of my great-uncles had a habit of leaving home from time to time. He would stay away for extended periods - sometimes months at a time. Whatever he did while he was away often ended with a loan shark visiting the home of his long-suffering wife. As you can imagine, she would get a little annoyed with the visits from these debt collectors.

One of the stories that passed down through our family's oral history is an incident when yet another loan shark knocked on her door to collect repayment for her husband's away-from-home antics. He asked where her husband was. His wife replied by using one of her infamous, classic sayings, "He's up a shark's arse, looking for the titanic!" I'm not sure if a door slam followed this response but I reckon it probably did.

Sometimes I think I look at my ancestors' antics through rose-coloured glasses, or maybe even sepia-coloured glasses. I think I may even romaticise them a little from time to time, especially when I try to work out what their lives were like by looking at photographs which can only show me a selected snapshot of how they lived. The not-so-good and not-so-ideal snippets of their lives don't always survive through the ages.

In comparison, when I heard this story, which apparently was a family favourite for many years before I was born, I couldn't help but take those rose-coloured and sepia-coloured glasses right off and laugh.


  1. One could speculate that she may well have had a few other choice sayings about her husband's antics too. :)

  2. You hooked me in with the warning! What does that say about me??

    This is a great story but how his poor wife coped with his shenanigans is a wonder. We forget to think about our ancestor's negative or blunt sides, just as it's easy to forget that photos tend to represent the happy times.

  3. I have to admit, I reckon it's a pretty good saying.