Paul Morrell: If I had to start again ...

I think we're programmed against regret, but given the luxury of living one life and being invited to dream of another, it would be a waste to make them both the same.

So my alter ego would probably have been a barrister. My father was a building contractor and there was a presumption that I would follow him. It was therefore good of him, when I resisted the science stream at school, to respond that 'Any fool can do Physics'. Instead, I studied English, economics and languages.

For university, I flirted with English (with one eye on journalism), languages (which I thought might come in handy in business - until my sister pointed out that there wasn't a waiter in London who wasn't bilingual), philosophy and the law. That I finished up reading quantity surveying was undeniably the result of parental 'encouragement'; but I hedged my bets by studying for the Bar as well, until forced to choose between careers after a change in the rules for the Bar.

Construction's attraction was its product - material evidence of one's efforts; whereas I feared that the satisfaction of the law might be more ephemeral: you win, you lose, you move on. The only other possibility was architecture, but I lacked the creative imagination and thought it would be better to do something I could be good at. I have since discovered that almost everyone working in construction is a frustrated architect - including many of the architects. Nonetheless, the industry has been good to me, the source of many friendships and much personal fulfilment, and I don't hesitate in encouraging others to follow.

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