Tag Archives: memory

Daily Prompt: Heroic

When you were five years old, who was your hero? What do you think of that person today?

It’s important to know that I have the same respect for animals as I do for people. Maybe more.

I didn’t have to think of who the year of my 5-year old world was for a second. Arkle – the greatest steeplechaser of all time, holding the all-time Timeform record of 212 to this day. My father was a great racing fan and every Saturday I sat with him, first listening to the racing on the radio and finally, when we got our first TV set, I had the job of holding the “rabbit’s ears” in place while following the adventures of Arkle and his contemporaries. At five years old I could quote his lineage and his career history. I could tell you the odds set against him, what weight handicaps were applied, his height, best friend (a donkey) , and favourite beverage (Guinness of course!) , before I could remember my home address.

Every Easter we had a day out at Fairyhouse and I can clearly remember being lifted up over my uncle’s head so I could see Arkle coming home a length ahead of the rest of the field with 2.5 stone handicap at the 1964 Irish Grand National. That boy had everything: beauty, talent, power, and charisma. He clearly enjoyed performing for a crowd, his ears would go up as he flew past the stands and he knew perfectly well the cheering was just for him. The Irish Racing board developed two weight systems – one for when Arkle was present, and the other for when he was elsewhere.

This video shows a legendary duel between Arkle and the wonderful, exceptionally big, Mill House at Cheltenham in the same year. Watching it just now I got the same thrill today as I did at 5 years old when I watched Arkle react to his audience and pretty much demolish the opposition at the close of the race. When it’s said of this guy “They will never see his like again” it’s pretty much the truth.

Daily Prompt: Heroic

Daily Prompt: Do you believe in magic?


You have been transformed into a mystical being who has the ability to do magic. Describe your new abilities in detail. How will you use your new skills?

Depends on what you mean by magic – is it the power to make things happen by some supernatural means, or to do something wonderful and amazing?

I have in mind the effect an accomplished musician might have on an audience – the apparently magical ability to get an instrument, for example a guitar constructed out of wood and metal, to sing.  What does it take for the musician to do this?  Skill, memory, belief, love would feature in the list. Don’t forget, the same set of items must be applied by the craftsman who built the instrument, and the composer of the piece, who may not be the musician.

There might be lyrics to go with the piece – maybe the musician sings with the instrument, maybe they are working with a singer – another set of skill, memory, belief and love to go into the mix.  And somebody had to compose those lyrics.

In order to get to the moment where a musical piece is delivered each participant has taken a journey through learning, practice and development of the necessary skills to make their contribution. But all the audience sees and hears is a wonderful combination of elements. 

So, in order to be transformed into the mystical being that is a musician, I really don’t need some supernatural power,  just the will and determination to acquire the skill, (a teacher would help), the memory to retain the skill, belief that it is the right thing for me to do, and love of playing the instrument. And a good instrument… and a great song… and perhaps a great singer to accompany.

In short, learning, practice and collaboration make magic and yes, I believe in that.

Daily Prompt: Do you Believe in Magic?.