Thursday, 2 October 2014

Example of Work: Blog post.

A post I created for a local locksmith's blog on his website

If you happen to be one of those people who still actually watch TV adverts these days rather than fast forwarding through them, thus missing the delight of ex-reality show stars desperately trying to flog frozen fish fingers, then you may have noticed a commercial that's been doing the rounds recently. It's for a car manufacturer; let's give it the codename  of Molkswagon, as no-one will ever crack that code. 

So in the commercial there's a couple of men buying parachutes from a flying school, but one of the men, unhappy over the prospect of shelling out a bit extra on a quality product, enquires about a tattered one he spots in the "Reduced to Clear" section.  The assistant describes how this particular parachute "isn't as rigorously tested" and "the stitching isn't as good," but this isn't enough to deter the shopper, and his eyes light up when he's also offered a free clock radio with the purchase.

Having made his choice, our bargain-hunter looks on as the second shopper walks off with the better-quality parachute. He takes it to his car which is naturally the model being advertised (sharing it's name with 'a good walk spoiled', as Mark Twain might say)  and the caption "You get what you pay for" pops up on screen as the advert finishes.

This advert came to mind the other day when I was called out to a man who had got himself into a bit of predicament, lock-wise (This is different to getting into a predicament loch-wise, as that would require a Scottish life buoy rather than a locksmith - it's important not to get these mixed up). The customer  in question had been intending to switch his old locks for new, secure antisnap locks. This was very commendable and something, as you'd imagine with me being a locksmith (not a lochsmith), which I'd heartily support.

Regrettably, events took an unfortunate turn for our amateur locksmith when, after purchasing cut-price examples from and casting his eye over  a  YouTube instructional video, he enthusiastically began the task of fitting them to his patio doors on a sun-soaked Friday afternoon. Four hours later, worn-out and sweating with frustration, and now with doors that could not even be closed as darkness approached, he threw in the towel and called me in to help.

Arriving at the scene of destruction, I found that in attempting to fit the new (but inadequate) locks, he had managed to destroy the whole locking system, rendering it useless, and meaning that entire mechanism now needed replacing. Even at cost price, these mechanisms cost a pretty penny, and thus he was faced with having to pay out a substantial amount more than he would have if he had just called me in to fit quality locks from the start. In trying to save money by ordering cheap locks online and trying to fit them himself he had ended up with a considerably larger bill.

Obviously, not every story will end in quite this level of calamity. Nevertheless, when it comes to home security, as with the parachute in the advert, you do get what you pay for.  Going down the route of buying cut-price locks and fitting them yourself is preferable to doing nothing at all, but cheap locks are a much easier target for burglars than their more robust cousins. Add in some incompetent fitting and this only makes the problem worse. 

Everyone would like to save money - it's a perfectly natural wish, especially given the times in which we're living, but sometimes the cheapest option is a false economy. The thought of the man risking his life by buying a threadbare parachute in order to save a few pounds may cause us to have a chuckle at his priorities, but we're simultaneously prepared to leave our home insecure by trying to do the same with locks. Our houses and their contents are probably the most valuable things we own. Are you really wanting to defend them with insufficient security measures simply to save a pound or two? 

This isn't to say that a locksmith's expert services will break the bank. Yes, you will pay a touch more than you would by fitting the locks yourself, but for that additional cost, you'll be benefitting from the help of a vastly experienced, registered locksmith who knows the trade from top to bottom, after working within it for over 20 years (in my case).  It's likely to be less expensive than you might imagine, and in the long term, could save you a great deal of money.

Returning for a moment to the world of TV commercials,  you may remember that Stella Artois was once advertised as "Reassuringly Expensive." We'd say SF Locksmiths, could better be described as "Reassuringly Economic". We're not cheap and shoddy, but we certainly don't overcharge either. Offering a professional job, skilfully completed for a fair, reasonable price, we certainly won't leave you plummeting towards the ground at terminal velocity, unsure whether  that parachute will deploy or not. We're speaking metaphorically there, by the way, but we also won't do it literally either. That would be a bit cruel.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Example of work: Press Release

Here is an example of a press release I put together for a client as part of my work with them:


AlanDick Communications is delighted to announce the acquisition of AIB Wireless, the purchase of which was completed on 28 March 2014.  

With over 25 years experience in the Business Wireless Sector, AIB is synonymous with outstanding service, consistently trusted by a diverse range of companies to carry out wireless solutions. Renowned for their resource of quality RF Design skillsets across the mobile PMR and rail sectors, as well as for their specialist tunnel coverage design solutions, AIB have worked closely with AlanDick Communications on projects across the breadth of the rail sector over the last 18 months. Their consistently high level of expertise, together with a first-class reputation has proven a perfect fit to AlanDick Communications, and this latest move consolidates that partnership.

This strategic acquisition gives AlanDick Communications complete end-to-end skillsets, encompassing RF design, testing, installation & commissioning as well as ongoing maintenance.
AIB's extensive expertise in designing in-building coverage solutions for mobile operators will also allow ADC to offer an end-to-end solution in this sector.

Managing Director of AlanDick Communications, Jason Pearce, lauded the acquisition of AIB. "This purchase not only consolidates our position as a leading player in the sector, but by acquiring the addition skillsets, we now have talented, experienced technicians working at each stage of the mobile telecoms process.  This comprehensive approach will prove crucial as AlanDick Communications looks towards future growth and diversification within the communications sector and we look forward to achieving continued success in for all of our customers."



AlanDick Communications is a privately owned company, which specialises in providing end-to-end telecoms-based services across a range of infrastructure and applications, with specific focus on the transportation and mobile telecoms sectors.

AlanDick Communications has considerable experience with both RF and fixed line telecoms and has a history of delivering solutions for some of the world’s largest companies and owners of telecommunications infrastructure.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Archive - The Social Network Review - Vue Cinema

Review from Doncaster Free Press (October, 2010)

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Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in America, wholly due to a website he created whilst a student at Harvard University. That invention went on to become Facebook, and The Social Network, the new film from Fight Club director David Fincher tells the story of the site’s foundation. The tale is told through subsequent multi-million dollar lawsuits brought against Zuckerberg; these serve as a way to structure the story in flashback form as the evidence is heard.

It is rare that a modern film focuses on such flawed and dislikeable characters. The strength of this film is that it doesn’t shy away from doing this, yet still emerges as an engaging story. Zuckerberg and his ilk may be the academic cream of the crop but few of them are portrayed as people with whom you’d like to spend a lot of time. Jesse Eisenberg gives his best performance to date as Zuckerberg, and whilst his portrayal of social awkwardness may help explain how Facebook came about, it is far from endearing and there’s a streak of unsavoury misogyny which is shared by several characters in the film.

The dialogue from Aaron ‘The West Wing’ Sorkin is as intelligent as you’d expect from one with his track record. Not only is it quick-witted, it’s also simply… quick. I’m not sure there’s been a film with such fast dialogue since Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell traded verbal punches in His Girl Friday. It takes a minute or two to adjust to the rhythm but once you’re used to it, you’re left wishing that all of life’s conversations could be scripted by Sorkin.

The unfussy direction by Fincher serves the story and creates an intelligent yet absorbing film. Arguments will continue as to the veracity of some of the events depicted in the film but as a piece of entertainment, it’s spot on. And thus ends a review without resorting to corny facebook references. In summary I ‘liked’ it. Oh, so close!

Archive - Two-way Mirror - Doncaster Little Theatre

Review written for Doncaster Free Press (February, 2011)

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Arthur Miller was one of the great modern American playwrights and created some of the finest dramas of the last century. Doncaster Little Theatre celebrated his work with Two Way Mirror, a double bill of two of his lesser known one-act plays.

Elegy of a Lady, a short piece set in a boutique sees a man looking to buy a gift for his dying mistress. He quickly finds himself unburdening his secrets onto the young shop owner and their conversation becomes increasingly intimate. There’s plenty of ambiguity; is this simply a conversation between strangers or is there more to this encounter than it seems? The actors do justice to the material, convincing throughout, as we witness two characters sharing a moment of closeness. A minor complaint was that the background music at times almost drowned out the speech, but apart from this, it was an enjoyable half hour of drama.

Some Kind of Love Story, the second, longer play includes nods to film noir as a detective visits a prostitute with an involvement in a long-running case. Frustration and passion rise to the surface in their self-destructive relationship as each tries to find in the other the answers they are seeking. Tension crackled in the theatre and frequent violent outbursts showcased fine acting again, especially from Rea Dolan as Angela, the troubled prostitute with multiple personalities. David Davis also does well as the worn down detective, despite being too young for the role of a man who has been in the force for over 20 years. The play is admittedly a little incoherent at time and is certainly one of Miller’s more confusing works. However the material is handled skilfully by all involved and one could admire the craft, if not always grasp the totality of the piece.

Archive - The King's Speech Review - Vue Cinema

Review written for Doncaster Free Press (January, 2011)

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The King’s Speech is the latest home-grown film that’s been making waves on both sides of the Atlantic, garnering Golden Globe nominations and raising Oscar hopes for those involved.

There is always a worry that critical acclaim and awards’ talk does not necessarily guarantee an entertaining film (yes, I’m looking at you, The English Patient). However that scepticism is rapidly washed away as the film proves equally as entertaining for the public as for the critics.

Colin Firth will surely be clearing a space on his mantelpiece, owing to his magnificent portrayal of the future George VI, struggling with a severe stammer that hampers all attempts at public speaking. When a country needs a King to speak for them, what use is a King without a voice?

The future Queen Mother (Helena Bonham Carter) enlists the services of unconventional speech therapist, Geoffery Rush to aid her husband. It is this relationship that the film focuses upon, as the ‘commoner’, Rush begins an uneasy friendship with the future King, much to the latter’s initial discomfort.

The film encompasses wider events; from the relationship between Edward and Wallis Simpson; to the rise of Hitler and the build up to World War Two; the director Tom Hooper convinces in his depiction of this time, and elicits exemplary performances from his actors (a miscast Timothy Spall as Churchill is the sole exception).

At its heart the story is not so much about royalty, but rather a universal tale of friendship and a man’s attempt to overcome adversity. That he happens to be the King naturally gives the story added weight, and will undoubtedly help in the American market, but even for those who are not ardent monarchists, it is still a moving, funny, and inspirational tale and highly recommended.

Archive - Skyline Review - Vue Cinema

Review written for Doncaster Free Press (December, 2010)

As an old-style alien invasion B-movie, Skyline enjoys the benefit of spectacular visuals, utilising computer-generated effects that would have been unthinkable on the same low budget just a few years ago.

The effects, however, remain the film’s high point. The human characters that populate the story are cardboard thin, fairly unpleasant, and so undeserving of our empathy that you find yourself siding with the marauding intruders.

The film itself feels derivative. You spend half the time thinking “There’s a bit from Independence Day, a bit from District 9” and so on. However, the filmmakers do nothing new with the genre, and the resulting film feels like watching a firework display in the company of thoroughly objectionable spectators.

If you want a thought-provoking, character-driven drama, steer away from Skyline. If, however, you want to turn your brain off for 90 minutes for some effects-laden schlock, then it’s diverting enough for a Friday night.

Archive - Rhod Gilbert Review - Doncaster Dome

Review written for Doncaster Free Press (November, 2010)

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Rhod Gilbert brought his new show, the succinctly titled Rhod Gilbert and the Cat that Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst to a sold-out Dome last week.

If you’ve seen Gilbert’s routines before, it’s essentially more of the same which is either a good or bad thing depending on your tastes. He spends two hours venting his spleen at the annoyances in his life – overcomplicated washing machines, the nightmare of trying to buy a simple vacuum cleaner, and the newspaper reviewers who accuse him of getting overly frustrated over life’s trivialities.

You have to admit the reviewers do have a point about the trivialities but Gilbert can be very, very funny in his anger. Flailing about on stage, taking out his anger on the stage furniture, and with the omnipresent can of lager in his hand, he expels his frustration with so much vigour, it’s tiring just watching him. The pneumonia that he was still recovering from seems to have done nothing to quell his energy

The funniest sections of the show were those when Gilbert interacted with the audience – his bewilderment at there being a ten year old boy in the audience was a highlight, as was his frustration at inappropriate suggestions from the audience when he opened a topic up for discussion.

The ranting does get a bit repetitive at times; he even reprises the duvet buying sketch from his last show and at times it’s a little bit Rhod Gilbert by numbers. One could argue that he’s found a winning formula and is sticking with it but it does cross the line of credibility: whereas we believed his frustration on trying to buy a duvet in previous shows, we don’t believe that he actually ended up buying 27 vacuum cleaners as he claims here

Nevertheless the show is expertly wrapped up with all the strands weaving together in the finale in an entertaining fashion. Venting his fury over life’s frustrations is still proving fertile material for Gilbert and whilst the formula may soon wear thin, this time it was a successful return to Doncaster for the Welsh comic.