I would have been an actor. At school, they discovered I had acting abilities, but my father was horrified - he wasn't going to have an actor son - so I was removed. He said: 'There'll be many opportunities, dear boy, for you to act without being on a stage. One day you'll be chairman of the brewery and address the AGMs.' He was right - each year, I appear onstage, fending off shareholders with props such as a beekeeper's hat and boxing gloves. Anyway, with pubs you can almost forget what you're selling because the most important thing is the licensee and staff. So when I went round the breweries and heard where people had been on holiday or other episodes, I'd write it down immediately I was out of their sight. Next time I went round, I'd remember and their eyes would open on stalks. Now people say: 'Watch out for the chairman - he never forgets anything.' Starting again, I would have utilized our assets earlier on. We have in our estate lots of big Victorian houses, some on large plots of land with three out of four floors completely unused. The Duke's Head, Wallington, occupied a sixth of the whole site - now it's got a hotel with 36 bedrooms. In 1954, a row of cottages behind The Flask in Hampstead was up for sale - pounds 400 for the lot. I said to the chairman: 'This is a snip, we ought to buy.' He said: 'My boy, we're not a property company, we are a brewery.' They now sell for pounds 1 million each. With hindsight, I might have been a very rich man.
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