1991 Freshers’ week vs 2021 Freshers’ week

30 years separating these two starts to university. 30 years, a city career, a temporary mortgage, a forever marriage, a pretty reasonable life. One I am rebooting now.


Living on the South Coast. Working my summers as a harbour tours commentator since age 16. A level results confirm the 20 points needed for my conditional offer at my preferred choice University, Cardiff. Maritime Studies, my preferred subject. A pause to the debate of whether my life was, like my father, destined to be at sea. Option B was Economics, Kingston Polytechnic.

Young Enterprise regional winner. A level economics, grade A. Better at business than biology – no change there

Then late September 1991. Freshers’ week. Still looking about 12 years old but evidently able to get served in a bar.

Seemingly more than one…

Days I look back on with some fondness. I found a freedom. I found the pub. Uni is where I met my wife – she must have been looking for a project then. I consult within, and research around, the risks impeding projects now.

Second year, 1992 me, still living as a young one indeed.

Eventually, I even found the lecture theatres and the library. Looking back my 2:2 was probably well deserved, but that was a sting I felt long and buried deep. A dissertation mistake that cost me dear. Living to the brief of my local government client, not the needs of the degree. I did so much wider learning here.


The 2021 me has returned to long hair. Less rebellion, and more compliance with lockdown need. I didn’t need to shave in 1991 – I just don’t bother now. I have grown into my Beardall name.

Never further from maritime influence than now. Never looking more like I have been at sea for 30 years…

No longer young but a modest enterprise still. My consulting work in construction pays the bills. My latter day interest in psychology intent on bringing a little biology back into the complex project space.

Today was a day of turning a house upside down, my parents doing the same to theirs, and a 32 year old document is duly found. And a few old photos.

Nottingham University having conditionally approved my MSc place in Psychology, but insisting I evidence a GCSE grade C in mathematics from 1989. My MSc distinction in Project Management, Finance, and Risk from 2020, a career in risk and insurance due diligence in project finance, none of that an acceptable work-around. Lock-down, remote working, no means to get out. Still no means to register until the GCSE cert is found. A compliance box frantically now ticked.

So how do these two Freshers’ weeks compare? I have no idea, I am not there. I await my instructions for registration. But I was never going near campus this time anyway. Just sat here, quietly getting on with work and research. Delighting in the memories found in some photos of 30 yesteryears.

I do know I availed the sting of my 2:2, with my 2020 MSc. The library I found has claimed me eventually. More so than the sea. Being young was fun. But my third university visit, this one prepares me for a PhD.

Join my journey back to university for a third time.

This blog space will be my place to introduce psychology to projects, risk, and people management. There is a clear research aim here, and this time it is my brief. But I am in no rush. I will be taking time to understand, time to share, time to reconsider much learned in yesteryear.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here: