Once upon a time I was in a lecture. The speaker, a senior detective, was challenged by a young constable. ‘Sir,’ he said, ‘Isn’t it true that we learn by our mistakes?’ ‘No,‘ the great man replied. ‘On the contrary. We learn from other people’s mistakes.‘ The constable, like the rest of us, had no answer to that. It sounded profound, and sensible. And, after all, the man was a Chief Superintendent.
Recently I mentioned this to a former colleague. His response was equally profound. ‘He would have said that, wouldn’t he? He had to learn from the mistakes of others because he never bloody did anything.’