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SKELETON IN THE ATTIC



Things were quiet for a while. Uncle Distaff became a disciple of the famous Russian castrator, Ivan Knackanickenemoff and with the appropriate surgery he was soon able to cycle his bike in the in the orthodox way and sing in a much higher key.

My father pulled out fuses, disconnected plugs and turned off lights which got him the sack from his job at Air Traffic Control. Then he went missing.

I looked for him in the attic. He wasn't there, just a load of old junk, a few mummified bodies, some whips and handcuffs, a suit of armour, a medieval torture rack and a human skeleton manacled to a crossbeam. All relics, I supposed, of some long-forgotten childhood Halloween.

I found him later in the Spotted Dog and I asked him about the items in the attic. He went pale and began to speak in German. "Ach, ziss iss ze fault of Fritz, der fugen bollo. I told him to get rid of zatt stuff. Now you will have to be told the whole story."

He staggered home. "Pen and paper," he demanded and by the light of an old tallow candle he began to write.

I tried to look over his shoulder. "Piss off and go to bed," he shouted.

I fell asleep but I woke up again after a while and I crept downstairs. He was sprawled across the table. The candle had burnt out and there were pages of handwritten script everywhere. I called him and he shot upright, grabbed all the pages and stuffed them in an envelope. The dawn was breaking.

"Come on," he said, "we have to go. This is how it has to be done."

He brought me down to Steamboat Quay where an assortment of marine crafts lay in the water.

"It all started here," he said, "and this is where it has to end."

He hopped on board a currach and I jumped in after him. He put the envelope under one arm and used an oar to push us away from the quayside. The tide was going out and the wind blew us westwards. The waves were high and whitecapped as we passed along by Tervoe and as we approached Foynes the rain pelted down.

"Where are we going?" I asked.

"It won't be long now," he said. "We're nearly there."

We reached that point in the estuary where the river meets the sea. He stripped down to his waist and thrust the envelope into my hand. "When you read this you'll understand why I have to leave you now," he said. Then he jumped overboard.

The wind howled, the rain lashed and I could see a swirl of circular movement ahead of me. It was a whirlpool and I was heading straight towards the vortex. I knew I was a goner but I had to find out what was in the envelope. I tore it open and I looked at the first page. My hands were trembling and just then a sudden gust of wind swept the papers from my grasp. Up and up they soared high into the sky until they reached a point where they became saturated and heavy which caused them to fall back again as pieces of soggy pulp, plopping into the water.

As the boat was being sucked into the rim of the whirlpool I cried out in terror. "fie, fie, cruel tempest, thy fury doth upset the even tenor. Alas I fear, all is lost." Shakespeare always had the words to suit occasions. Round and round I went in ever decreasing circles, faster and faster, sinking all the time.

Then I heard my father's voice.

"Are you going to get up at all today?"

I sat up in bed and rubbed my eyes. God, what a nightmare, I thought.

"Will you come on," he shouted, "we have to go somewhere."

"Where to?" I asked.

"Steamboat Quay," he answered.

"Oh bollocks!"

EPILOGUE

As like the mystery of our origins, the exact whereabouts of our final resting-place is unknown. Biographies might argue that it is somewhere between the coordinances of 10 degrees north and 52 degrees west in global geographic terms.

There have been unconfirmed sightings of my father in Ballybunion selling perrywinkles. A figure resembling myself has been seen by passengers on the Tarbert to Killimer ferry. I appear as Neptune, complete with trident and I guide them away from whirlpools and icebergs. My visage is surrounded by Saint Elmo's fire.

There has been a worldwide upsurge in interest in the Spearins and this has prompted the establishment of a special body to raise funds in order to finance further research into the origins of the name.

The Spearin Heritage Information Trust can be found at www.shite.ie. (it's good shite though and no donations necessary)

ADDENDUM

Misfortune also befell poor Uncle Distaff. Whilst on a visit to Siberia he contracted a rare tropical disease, frostbite. Then he was attacked by a rabid dog and he had to be put down. His body has been donated to medical science.

Per procurationem

Joe Spearin, October, 2011




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Last update: Dec 2011

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