…The Irish are particularly fond of the riddle and of the consciousness, which underpins its use.
When living in the village of Saughall on the border of Chester and Wales my brother-in-law and I were frequent visitors to the village pub which boasted two stouts: Guinness and Murphy’s.
We prided ourselves on being able to tell the difference and would often buy one of each in order to discern which particular brew had been ‘kept best’.
Upon joining a couple of Irish chaps at their table one night they must have observed our traditional ritual with some amusement and challenged us to ascertain what they were drinking.
“You are both drinking Guinness,” we said after taking a sip of their drinks.
“I am drinking Guinness,” said one, “but that is Murphy’s” and then pointed at his friends drink.
“You are both drinking the same stout and it is Guinness,” we reiterated.
Then they swapped drinks and the one said again, “I am drinking Guinness but that is Murphy’s” and again pointed at his friends drink.
Yet still we did not ‘get it’ and our faces must have been a picture when Gerald Murphy took a sip of his stout and introduced himself.
A riddle is a trick played with words.