I have always hated riddles.

The English have a penchant for them apparently. It comes from the Saxons’ idea of how to beat boredom and passed for humour amongst the type of people who invaded other peoples’ lands on the pretext of ‘helping’ them.

You may have heard of the thing, though they appear to be less popular now than they were supposed to be when I was at school. They go – Question: What has six legs but no brain, three heads but cannot be driven by a hammer and is scared of a woman’s tongue? Answer: three drunken Saxons.

Oh! How we laughed.

I scratched my head and wondered what the hell they were on about, but apparently it was risqué and clever and amusing all in one, which made the English the cleverest race on God’s Earth. So they said.

But I knew a Gaelic proverb which, translated into the cleverest language on earth, goes: ‘Three things come without asking: fear, love and jealousy.’

That tells it from the shoulder without the hiding behind the addled humour of the riddle. That sums a man’s soul and warns you of the pitfalls of life, though no warning can prepare you for that triumvirate when they come.

I was delivered of them each in turn and had I thought of it, would have paid the price of the two for the chance of the one.

I looked at the lock of hair and wondered if there was a riddle in her going. I could only feel the pain. The fear of life without her and the jealousy of the man she went to. There may be life after loss but many is the day I have wished there weren’t.

The riddle was in the living.

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