Three is the Magic Number


Fridge needs a new thermostat,  washing machine springs a leak, and you find yourself warily eyeing the other kitchen appliances wondering what next. These are not recent occurrences in my life but I’m sure you’ll identify with the concept of things, good or bad,  happening in threes.

The reason we buy into this belief is ‘the rule of three’ phenomenon.  It is common in both the literary (Three musketeers, Three little pigs, Goldilocks and the three bears) and spiritual worlds (mind, body and spirit or Father, son and Holy Ghost) and in rhetorical devices used by writers as a way of engaging readers (Friends, Romans, Countrymen …).  So strong is the power invested in the number three that it is often used as a persuasion technique in advertising (remember the Mars bar slogan: ‘helps you work, rest and play’), and in speeches; who could forget Tony Blair’s “Education, education, education” pledge?

The number three has figured rather nicely for me recently. In the past few days, I have celebrated three pieces of good news:

1. Proud mum moment: Last year my son decided to return to university to complete the final year of his degree, abandoned sixteen years ago. With a full time job and his two youngest children just fifteen months old and newborn (actually born the same week as his course started) he began his studies. I’ll be honest here, I thought the timing could have been better (understatement)! Working late into the evenings, crying babies through the night and 7.30am starts at work and assignments submitted with only hours to spare took its toll; although he mostly denied it, I could see that he was pretty stressed out. But he did it and a few days ago his determination and hard work was rewarded when he heard that he had gained a very respectable  2:1 . We’re now looking forward to his graduation in September .

2. Sigh of relief moment: I  received the all-clear following a biopsy on two breast lumps.

3. YES! moment: I have a new job. Thanks to the changes in pension age, I now have to wait until I am 66 before drawing my state pension so this meant that after completing my degree last year I needed to return to work. There’s not a great deal of choice for a sixty year old woman who has been out of the workplace for several years and is seeking part time hours over three days. In fact, at the time, I could find nothing so had to compromise my ideal and take what was on offer – a mixture of afternoons and all day Saturday as a supervisor in a shoe shop. One of the largest independent shoe shops in the UK, it has around fifty, mostly part time, staff. Yes, it’s a big one! And it’s busy. I have spent my days going up and down the 42 stairs over and over and it’s played havoc with my knees and ankles. BUT, on 1st August I will be going back into a HR role for three (that number again!) ‘long’ mornings on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Three is the magic number (Blind Melon)

“Three is a magic number
It is, it’s a magic number
Somewhere in that ancient mystic trinity
You’ll get three
As a magic number
The past, the present, the future,
Faith, and hope, and charity,
It’s a magic number”


  1. I am a bit late with my comments, but congratulations on the great biopsy results! I’m sure that was a big relief.

    Congratulations, too, to your son on his academic achievement! Definitely a proud-parent occasion!

    How are you liking your new job? Hope it is going well.


    • Hello Bless, Hope you are well. The job is going well and is a great improvement on the last one! Thanks for asking.


  2. Oh, very well done, Eloise! And congrats to your son, as well!
    As for the rule of three, I’ve been blathering on about this in writing for years. For example, when you give examples in writing, always give three … two are insufficient, four are too many. We say things like “his, hers, mine” or “this, that, and the other” or “hook, line and sinker” or “left, right and centre” . Even traffic lights are red, amber and green. Even the military are the Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. Threes are everywhere when you begin to look. And when I write articles, my fist para usually has three sentences! Four sentences doesn’t sound or even look right.
    The very best news is the all-clear on the breast bi-opsy!
    Margaret P


    • Like minds, Margaret (again)! Agree absolutely regarding two/three/four. Three is everywhere. My first draft was a bit too technical referring to tricolon and anaphora as taught at uni so I scrapped the post idea altogether. Then I thought – heavens, you are supposed to be a writer so write it better! Sorry to see that you are having a technical issue with your blog. I hope it will be resolved soon.


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