The Professor 

“So what do you lecture in.”
It looked as if the man who’d just outed himself as a professor was about to answer a simple question with a simple answer.
“What was your favourite subject at school?”
I was still trying to decide between maths and art when the professor corrected himself for my benefit. “What was your least favourite one, the one you hated the most?”
That had me thinking, not only about the professor’s way of asking a question, but also about the question itself. At a loss, I admitted to actually enjoying school. That was nothing but the truth, and all the more paining because I’d done very little to capitalise on my attendance during “The Golden Age of British Schooling”.
Without wanting to draw out the distance between question and answer too much, I said, “History.”
That wasn’t strictly true. I liked history, but it did involve a lot of reading which isn’t something I’ve ever done well, so it tends to taint any activity which demands a lot of it.
The professor seemed disappointed. “Ah, 90% of the people say physics.”
To cheer him up, I said that I had indeed dropped the subject in favour of chemistry. The reason for doing so is instructive to a closer understanding of my character.
As at least one science subject was a required component of a general education, the deputy headmaster came into our classroom one day to explain the difference. Instead of saying much about the curricula of the core sciences, he talked about the learning effort required in each. He drew a graph, and, whereas physics strayed above the line of equal work over time and biology crept below it, chemistry stayed true to the balanced path.
That’s it. That’s why I chose chemistry.
Much later in life and with no conscious thought of my adolescent decision-making process, I thought the concept of “Steady Persistence” to be so worthwhile that I wrote it down on a scrap of paper and displayed it, held upright by a bulldog clip, on my desk.
Looking back, it seems strange to have chosen a subject simply based on the effort it took to learn it. However, as I said, I liked school, and I liked all its subjects. If interest isn’t a criterion for doing something, the amount of effort it takes to do it is as good as any.