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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Pitching in with Baxter the Bridie

August 6 2016

Ever wondered what makes a football mascot tick? Join us as we peel back the crust of Forfar Athletic's latest signing... Prancing around on the football pitch, throwing shapes and high-fiving players while dressed as a giant meat pasty, you might suspect I’d feel a bit of a plonker. But as I hug yet another fan and join in the pre-match warm-up regime, I feel surprisingly liberated. “You’re really enjoying this, aren’t you?” laughs photographer Kris Miller, and I have to admit, that yes, I am. I’ve taken on the role of Baxter the Bridie – Forfar Athletic’s new mascot – and I’m pretty much ad-libbing my duties. Stepping into the super-size character’s costume, I’m struck by how warm it is inside. Luckily it’s a cool evening, with light showers, or I’d be cooked alive. It’s quite tricky to see through the mesh covering Baxter’s “eyes”, but maybe that’s a good thing – it certainly enhances the surrealness of the experience. As I chatter and flap around, Aisling Fitzgerald, of Forfar’s merchandising team, tells me I’ve got artistic licence to do whatever I want...within reason. “Don’t talk though – you’ll shatter the illusion,” says Kris. The aim is to entertain the crowds, and plenty of folk seem to love Baxter, who sports white gloves, a chef’s hat and a fixed grin. I get pats on the back, high-fives, hugs and banter from fans on both sides (Forfar Athletic are hosting East Fife at Station Park). I jog alongside players as they do their warm-up drills, run sideways and backwards waving my four-fingered floppy “hands”, perform some jumps, squats and static stretches, and even kick a couple of balls, all the while, beaming my huge, unwilting grin. But I really get into the swing of things when the music starts, and on hearing the famous Korean dance pop single Gangnam Style booming out through the speakers, I start to dance. I’ve no idea how good or bad the moves looked – it’s quite difficult to judge while leaping around in giant bridie “feet” with dexterity limited by the narrow placing of the arm holes, but it feels fantastic. What better excuse to go wild and lose your inhibitions than when dressed as a bridie! The fact Kris is laughing is a positive outcome...I think. A major highlight is being presented with a Frank’s Law (a campaign for free care for dementia sufferers under 65) T-shirt by Dundee United legend Frank Kopel’s wife Amanda ahead of the match. The Kopel family, who are fronting the Frank's Law campaign for free care for dementia sufferers under 65, have a strong connection with Forfar Athletic – Frank’s son Scott played for the team in the early 1990s. When kick-off approaches, the players run out on to the pitch, and Baxter takes the opportunity to give as many of them as possible a lucky high-five. Sadly, some of the more serious team members sprint on by, but those who do take him on do so with good grace. Duties done until half time, I head back to the dressing room and strip off the sweatbox costume. My hair is frizzy and stuck to my forehead, my mascara is running, my eyes are bloodshot; quite frankly, I looked a lot better as Baxter. It was the second time the mascot had entertained fans after making his debut at a friendly against Dundee United at Station Park on July 5. And Baxter — already well on his way to cult status — proved his worth as a lucky mascot, with Forfar beating East Fife 2-0. Alll in all, being a bridie was a fun and somewhat enlightening experience and one I may even (whisper it) repeat. The club is keen for volunteers to take on the role on match days and stress it’s open to anyone. No previous experience or knowledge of football required! Anyone interested should email fafcretail@gmail.com info Baxter the Bridie is Forfar Athletic’s first mascot. The bridie (a horseshow-shaped meat product) was an obvious choice as it’s iconic to the town. The club has been delighted by the reaction to Baxter since he was launched in May, and there’s a long waiting list for replica mini bridies. As well as meeting golf hero Phil Mickelson and Scottish football legend Kenny Daglish, fun size versions of Baxter met rugby giants Gavin Hastings and Craig Chalmers, and presenter Hazel Irvine. Baxter even boasts his own Facebook page and there’s a competition for fans to take mini-mascots to far-flung places.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk


Fife event to mark 50 years since Jim Baxter’s swagger at Wembley

March 2 2017

Fifty years on from arguably Scotland’s greatest victory, the stunning performance of one of Fife’s favourite sons will be marked at a special event. Jim Baxter is already immortalised with a statue in Hill of Beath, where he lived and played football in his early years. Raith Rovers, his first senior club, plan to celebrate half a century since his iconic showing at Wembley when Scotland became unofficial world champions at a star-studded evening in Kirkcaldy next month. The show, which will take place on April 17 at the Adam Smith Theatre, will feature film footage of the famous 3-2 win over the England in 1967 and other memorable Baxter moments, as well as input from celebrities who had connections with ‘Slim Jim’. They will include Willie Henderson, one of Scotland’s greatest wingers and a lifelong friend of Jim’s; Jim McCalliog, who scored in the victory over England; ex-Scotland manager Craig Brown; former Prime Minister Gordon Brown; and crime writer Val McDermid, whose father initially brought Baxter to her beloved Raith Rovers. Raith Rovers director Dave Wann hopes as many people as possible will turnout for the event, as it will also help develop local footballing talent hoping to follow in Baxter’s footsteps. “One of the purposes behind the event is to raise funds for the Raith Rovers player development squad so that the club can aspire to find and nurture the next generation of young players with some of Jim Baxter’s skills,” he explained. “Our current national team has struggled in recent years and this event is an opportunity to remind ourselves of a time when Scotland had truly international quality players — a time when we could even brag about beating the world champions on their own turf." Baxter’s swagger during Scotland’s win over England at Wembley on April 15, 1967, remains the stuff of legend, and those who were in attendance were left mesmerised by his performance over the 90 minutes. His keepie-uppie with the ball on the touchline as the clock ticked down is one of the most iconic moments in Scottish sport. Baxter, who played for Raith between 1957 and 1960 before moving to Rangers, died aged 61 in 2001 a and the statue was erected in his honour two years later. Mr Wann said the evening promises “entertainment and nostalgia in equal quantities” and tickets are available via the Adam Smith Theatre box office by calling 01592 583302. Standard tickets are £20 and VIP tickets are £30 which include a pre-show pie and a pint and the opportunity to meet the celebrities.


Waid Academy bolsters The Courier’s ‘Can It’ campaign

September 29 2016

Staff and pupils at Waid Academy in Anstruther threw their weight behind The Courier’s ‘Can It’ campaign earlier this year and pledged on Wednesday to keep backing the initiative in the weeks ahead. Several Fife secondary schools are supporting The Courier’s drive to ban caffeine-based fizzy ‘energy’ drinks from school premises in a bid to improve the health and wellbeing of the region’s youngsters. Specially designed ‘Can It’ water bottles are being given out to the new S1 cohort at participating schools as a thank you for signing up. Teachers said they plan to hold assemblies in the coming weeks to reinforce the ‘Can It’ message. The school’s health and wellbeing group has been raising awareness of the potential effects of such drinks, while Waid’s student congress has aimed to increase the number of water fountains on school premises. A deal was struck with the school’s PPP partners for one to be installed in the sports hall before the summer break. Rector Iain Hughes said: “We currently do not sell carbonated drinks from any outlet in the school but there is still a task ahead to limit the number of these being brought onto school premises. “We strongly believe that for the significant health benefits to our learners that we have to break down the culture of drinking energy drinks.” Teacher Jacqui Smith-Mackay added: “Now that they have the bottles, we’ll have an assembly to explain to the pupils why they have got them and there will be a big drive from our Health and Wellbeing Group. “We have mooted it around the school and have some of The Courier’s articles and photos from earlier in the year, but it’s something we’re keen to get behind. “We’ve got the Co-op nearby, the pupils have got the pocket blazers, so you’ll see them try to come in with energy drinks every morning.” Other Fife schools backing the campaign include Kirkcaldy High, Bell Baxter High, Lochgelly High, Balwearie High, Glenrothes High, Queen Anne High, St Andrew’s RC High and Inverkeithing High. The campaign was also endorsed by Fife councillors earlier in the year.

Angus & The Mearns

Montrose man’s Trump movie to be shown across America

October 30 2016

A Montrose film-maker’s documentary on Donald Trump will be made available to millions of US voters ahead of the presidential election. You’ve Been Trumped Too – which premiered in the shadow of Trump Tower in New York on Friday will now be distributed across the US after a crowdfunding campaign smashed its $75,000 target. Anthony Baxter from Montrose Pictures said: “We’re delighted. People have been so supportive and generous. It’s overwhelming. “I’ve always thought that the Scottish story and the Menie Estate story is a microcosm of what could be unleashed on the world if Trump was ever in such a powerful position, and had the most powerful job in the world.” The $75,000 raised means the documentary will now be shown either on television or free of charge online in America. The money will be used for distribution, publicity, advertising and legal costs. Trump’s camp have issued a statement rubbishing claims are made by 92-year-old Molly Forbes in the film. You’ve Been Trumped Too tells the story of widow Molly who Trump threatened with legal action after she refused to sell her property for his luxury golf course. The film then follows Molly’s son Michael Forbes – who Trump previously branded “a pig” – to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, where he attempts to find out why Americans are backing the man he blames for his family’s misfortune. The billionaire businessman previously tried to stop the BBC screening Anthony Baxter’s first film You’ve Been Trumped about the effect the property magnate’s golf course development in Aberdeenshire had on locals. https://twitter.com/antbaxter/status/792490433922404352 After Trump announced he was running for President, the Montrose film-maker returned to Balmedie to find that residents were still having problems as a result of the luxury development. A spokeswoman for Trump International Golf Links said: “We have not seen the so-called film and have no interest in it. “Anthony Baxter is not a credible journalist or filmmaker. He has no interest in the facts or the people of north east Scotland. “He has propagated lies and nonsense about the company for years in an attempt to make a name for himself off the back of Trump. “We operate a highly acclaimed, five-star golf resort and enjoy a great relationship with the local community and all of our neighbours with the exception of a few who have fought the project since its inception.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-dZLKJ7E3M Donald Trump branded Mr Baxter’s original You’ve Been Trumped as “a failure” but the film won a dozen international awards at leading film festivals worldwide and was named documentary of the year by leading film critic Mark Kermode. You’ve Been Trumped Too will also be screened at DCA from Fri until Monday, November 7.

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

Motoring news

Rising repair costs and whiplash claims behind insurance rise

February 11 2017

Vehicle insurance premiums hit a record high last quarter, rising by more than five times the rate of inflation in 2016. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that tax increases, rising repair costs and increasing costs arising from whiplash injury claims were to blame. According to the ABI’s Motor Premium Tracker - which measures the price consumers actually pay for their cover, rather than quotes - the average price for private comprehensive insurance in Q4 2016 was £462. The highest figure recorded before this was in Q2 of 2012, when the average price was £443. The Q4 figure for 2016 was up 4.9% over Q3, equating to a £22 rise in the average premium. It was also found that the average premium for all of 2016 was 9.3% higher than the average premium for 2015. ABI’s assistant director and head of motor and liability, Rob Cummings, said: “These continue to be tough times for honest motorists. They are bearing the brunt of a cocktail of rising costs associated with increasing whiplash-style claims, rising repair bills and a higher rate of insurance premium tax. “While we support the Government’s further reforms to tackle lower-value whiplash costs, it must not give with one hand and take away with the other. The sudden decision to review the discount rate has the potential to turn a drama into a crisis, with a significant cut throwing fuel on the fire in terms of premiums. “Insurers are open to a proper dialogue on how to reform the system and urge the Lord Chancellor to engage with the industry about setting a rate that is fair for both claimants and customers.” Meanwhile, the RAC has released research that suggests not indicating when turning is our number one annoyance on the roads. Well over half (58%) of the survey’s respondents said failing to indicate was the top inconsiderate behaviour. It was narrowly ahead (56%) of those who thought middle lane hogging was the greatest driving sin.


Review: The Scaffies at Dundee Rep

January 27 2017

“Welcome tae 1978. There were nae mobile phones in they days. So if yer posh enough tae hae one, can ye please switch it aff!” The broad Dundee tones of Gary 'Cundee' Robertson set the mood ahead of the first act of The Scaffies – a step back in grime to a Britain experiencing social and political turmoil and the prospect of strikes during the so-called ‘Winter of Discontent’. If you are easily offended by coarse language, sexist jokes, a culture of serious hard drinking and black humour that could often be described as crude, immature – even, at times, idiotic - then this is definitely not the show for you. You would probably think it’s rubbish! If on the other hand you enjoy the type of no-holds-barred, real-life ‘working class’ banter that will be familiar to anyone who has frequented certain Dundee pubs, clubs, football grounds and workplaces – especially in less politically correct times - then this will likely have you in stitches. The Scaffies, inspired by real life tales of life on the bins in Dundee during the 1970s, follows a group of Dundee cleansing workers as they deal with another week of hard graft, sweat and filth around the time of the 1978 World Cup. From the opening banter in the depot canteen where frightening quantities of whisky and McEwans Export are being consumed ahead of a Monday morning shift, to the borderline bullying/practical jokes led by charge hand Tam (played by Scaffies creator Gary Robertson), the sell-out Dundee audience on the opening night clearly thought this was right up their street! Watch out for good natured football banter aplenty as Dundee FC supporting ‘Geraldine’ (Steve Merton) comes to blows with Dundee United supporting Larry (Kevin Parr) who, we learn, is coincidentally also the drunk ‘larry driver’. Jokes follow about farting, laxatives, dead fish – and using the Evening Telegraph to wipe your backside (an unofficial Courier no comment!) - as the new crew member  - a punk called ‘Donnie Rotten’ (Keiran Duncan) – becomes the butt of various pranks overseen by hard drinking Second World War veterans Eddie’ (Ged Ryan) and ‘Frankie’ (Ron Whyte) who “now defend the country with their brooms.” The cast gel well and the coarse tone was consistent throughout. Relentless even. The use of contemporary 1970's music between set changes worked well - think Showaddywaddy and The Undertones. And watch out for a cameo by ex-Dundee United striker John Reilly - the non-speaking barman called Wullie! If there was any criticism to be had, however, then perhaps the incessant coarse banter felt somewhat exaggerated at times, whilst a couple of women in my row complained they couldn't pick up some of the diction. Another audience member, meanwhile, who revealed the plot was all "too close to home", felt it was difficult to relate to the group dynamic of the bin crew when you would “expect at least some members to have more middle of the road opinions.” Most of the audience seemed happy though and the fact the show is already sold out for the rest of its run tells its own story. It was also poignant programme sales went to MND Scotland in memory of Gary's friend Malcolm Dowie - a former head of music at Forfar Academy and legend of musical theatre and stage - who died in December. Not many people manage to sell out the Rep, and for that alone Gary Robertson - the real life bin man and self made poet fae Fintry - ought to be warmly applauded. *The Scaffies runs at Dundee Rep until February 2. It's run is sold out.

Angus & The Mearns

Montrose man’s Trump film will be shown live on social media despite threat of legal action

November 2 2016

A Montrose filmmaker will stream his new documentary live to voters in the US on Thursday despite being threatened with legal action by Donald Trump. As the US presidential candidate attempts to suppress the film, the producers of You’ve Been Trumped Too have announced a free screening of the film. Trump’s lawyers have threatened to sue anyone who screens it but Anthony Baxter might have found a loophole and is streaming it on Facebook Live. “There is a profound danger to freedom of speech in Mr Trump’s actions, especially with the election around the corner,” said Mr Baxter. “He and his organisation has harassed local residents in a way that I think people need to see. “You can’t allow bullying to get in the way of the truth.” You’ve Been Trumped Too tells the story of widow Molly who Trump threatened with legal action after she refused to sell her property for his luxury golf course. The film then follows Molly’s son Michael Forbes – who Trump previously branded “a pig” – to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, where he attempts to find out why Americans are backing the man he blames for his family’s misfortune. The billionaire businessman previously tried to stop the BBC screening Anthony Baxter’s first film You’ve Been Trumped about the effect the property magnate’s golf course development in Aberdeenshire had on locals. After Trump announced he was running for President, the Montrose film-maker returned to Balmedie to find that residents were still having problems as a result of the luxury development. You’ve Been Trumped Too – which premiered in the shadow of Trump Tower in New York on Friday - is being distributed after a crowdfunding campaign smashed its $75,000 target. But the Trump Organization issued a legal challenge threatening to sue if anyone dares show the film and is pledging to take Molly Forbes to court over claims made in the film. A spokesman for Trump International Golf Links said: “Mr and Mrs Forbes rejected our offer to be connected to mains water. “Trump International has sought legal counsel and will pursue legal action against those who have propagated these highly defamatory claims.” The film been called ‘a ticking timebomb’ by Indiewire, ‘laced with enough maddening new material for it to feel like a valuable addition to the most hollow house of cards in the history of American politic.’ The New York Times said the film was ‘timely’ and added, “this time the 'you' in the title is the United States". The film streams Thursday at 8pm ET.