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Carrie Fisher’s Dashing White Sergeant on Dundee station platform

January 4 2017

Carrie Fisher went from a galaxy far, far away to dancing the Dashing White Sergeant at Dundee railway station, it has been revealed. The actress, best known for playing Princess Leia in Star Wars, died at the age of 60 on December 27, four days after suffering a heart attack on a plane. Her mother Debbie Reynolds died the following day after suffering a stroke. But is has now been revealed Ms Fisher enjoyed a trip to Scotland that culminated in a ceilidh on the deserted platform at Dundee railway station. Writing in The Times, journalist Roderick Grant recalled travelling around Scotland on board The Royal Scotsman with the actress. While The Blues Brothers star was one of the fee-paying tourists on the trip, he had been commissioned to write a magazine article about the journey. He revealed Fisher, accompanied by her French bulldog Gary, had been unimpressed by a visit to Glamis Castle — the Queen Mother's ancestral home — because of the dim lighting within the building. But that did not stop her splashing out £500 on a cashmere dog coat from the castle's gift shop before both Carrie and Gary took part in some Scottish country dancing in Dundee railway station. At midnight, an accordion orchestra led the 28 passengers on the £1,500 a day trip on to the deserted platform at Dundee railway station where they danced The Dashing White Sergeant and eightsome reels. Gilchrist wrote: "I partner Carrie, and Gary is here too of course, dashing in and our of the dancers' feet. Carrie appears transfixed with joy by this simple pleasure." Ms Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd broke her silence about the deaths of her mother and grandmother, who died within a day of each other, on Monday. The 24-year-old posted on social media site Instagram: "Receiving all of your prayers and kind words over the past week has given me strength during a time I thought strength could not exist.” “There are no words to express how much I will miss my Abadaba and my one and only Momby. Your love and support means the world to me.” A joint funeral is planned for the two actresses.


Conde Nast provides international recognition for Dundee’s renaissance

December 15 2017

One of the world's leading travel magazines has singled out Dundee as one of the main reaons to visit the UK in 2018. Condé Nast Travller magazine also includes an articled by Dundee-born comedian and writer Danny Wallace about the city's recent renaissance. Including the UK in its 10 destinations to watch in 2018, the magazine cites Dundee as  one of the main reasons to visit the UK, along with London and Bristol. It states: "A surprise entry this year: Dundee. Its soon-to-be-launched V&A Museum of Design, large populations of galleries and art students, and plum spot on the Firth of Tay make a strong case for a highland fling." * For more on this story — including why Dundee is no longer the butt of jokes for comedians — pick up Saturday's culturally cognisant Courier, also available as a digital edition.  


Dundee man seeking to solve Alien mystery

April 28 2016

A Dundee man is hoping to find proof his baseball cap has origins that are out of the world. Science fiction fan Donald Suttie bought a hat in September that he believes was worn in the movie Alien by cult actor Harry Dean Stanton. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYPaQfLg08c He is hoping to get the cap authenticated as the genuine article worn by the actor when he played the role of doomed technician Brett in Ridley Scott's 1979 classic. Harry Dean Stanton's character Brett is the second person to die in the movie, after John Hurt is killed by the creature bursting from his chest. Stanton has starred in a host of cult films including Repo Man, Paris, Texas, Red Dawn and Pretty in Pink. He also made a cameo appearance in Avengers Assemble. Donald, a collector of film memorabilia, acquired the cap last year. It bears the logo of the USCSS Nostromo and he believes the prop was originally acquired from film studio 20th Century Fox for the Alien War interactive experience which was launched in Glasgow in the early 1990s. He has now sought the advice of experts, including some who worked on the original Alien move, in a bid to verify its authenticity. He said: "I bought if from a chap who wasn't quite sure of its background and so sold it to me on that understanding. "He had got it from one of the guys behind Alien War, which began at The Arches in Glasgow." Donald said he thinks the cap, which has the initials HDS written inside, was made for Harry Dean Stanton for the movie, although may not be the exact one he wore on screen. "I spoke to Dennis Lowe, which was involved in Alien as a special effects technician , and he said the badge appears genuine. "I also spoke to Lee Stringer, who is a film-maker and Alien fanatic, and he told me they made caps for all the cast members but only Harry Dean Stanton wore his in the film." Alien was filmed at Pinewood Studios in England and has inspired numerous sequels and prequels. Other movie props owned by Donald include the sunglasses worn by Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible. Remarkably he owns two other Alien caps - although these are only replicas of the one worn in the film.  


Dundee smokers needed for university’s vaping study

January 27 2017

Smokers in Dundee are being recruited for a new study that will examine the potential health risks of vaping. Researchers at Dundee University are looking for 135 volunteers who have been smoking for at least two years and who smoke more than 15 tobacco cigarettes a day, or the equivalent amount of rolling tobacco, for the vital research. The effects of smoking on blood vessels will then be compared to the blood vessels of those who use e-cigarettes. The VESUVIUS study is being funded by the British Heart Foundation who say more work is needed to understand the potential impact of vaping on heart and circulatory health. Smokers who sign up for the study will be put into one of three possible treatment groups: continuing with tobacco cigarettes, switching to e-cigarettes with nicotine or e-cigarettes without nicotine. Dr Jacob George, who is leading the study, said: "Many people are using e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking and they are sold on the principle that they're a much safer alternative to traditional cigarettes because they don't contain harmful substances like tobacco and tar. "But just like traditional cigarettes, most of the do contain nicotine, which can be harmful to blood vessels. "So it's essential to know how much safer they really are, compared to tobacco cigarettes." Participants will have to make two visits to Ninewells Hosptial, four weeks apart. There, they will provide blood and breath samples as well as receiving a blood pressure check and undergoing a non-invasive ultrasound examination of blood vessels in their arm. British Heart Foundation Scotland director James Cant said: "We all know that smoking tobacco raises our risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease. "E-cigs have been hailed by some as a great way to help smokers quit but little is actually known about their impact on our heart and circulatory system. That's why we're delighted to funding this important research." Anyone who wants to take part should contact trial manager Pippa Hopkinson on 01382 383195 or 07850 540230. Alternatively, they can email vesuvius@dundee.ac.uk


Scottish Water warning after Monifieth drain blocked by wet wipes

January 29 2018

Scottish Water has reminded homeowners not to flush wet wipes down toilets after they clogged up a Monifieth sewer. Engineers from Scottish Water removed thousands of the items after they were called to a blockage in the Angus town earlier this month. In total, the team filled five rubbish bags with wipes that had been dumped into a single section of sewer. Scottish Water’s Cycle Campaign urges customers to use the "Three Ps rule" reminding them to flush only "pee, poo and toilet paper". A spokesman for Scottish Water said dispatching articles such as wipes, nappies or cotton buds down the toilet could cause drains to block. Offending items should go in the bin, not down the toilet, even if the packaging claims they are flushable. Sanitary items , condoms, incontinence pads, colostomy bags, used bandages and contact lenses are also on the no-no list. Gavin Noble, Scottish Water sewer response team teader for Angus said: “The volume of wipes from this recent blockage in Angus is an ideal chance to remind customers of the consequences of putting inappropriate items down the toilet. “Every year there are around 37,000 blocked drains and sewers across Scotland, which can cause flooding and pollute rivers, burns and coastal waters. “Around 80% of these blockages that clog up the cycle are caused by either inappropriate items being put down the toilet, or fat, oil and grease being put down the sink. “We believe the best way to tackle blocked drains and sewer flooding is to work together to help prevent blockages that can clog up the cycle in the first place and we would urge customers to follow the Scottish Water Cycle Campaign.” Wet wipes are also known to contribute to the formation of "fatbergs" in sewers. These are massive blockages caused by fat, wet wipes and nappies congealing. Last year Thames Water revealed it had discovered a 250-metre long fatberg beneath Whitechapel in London. It weighed the same as 11 double decker buses and could have caused raw sewage to spill onto the streets. Workmen spent three weeks breaking up the mass with shovels and high-powered hoses.  


Dundee benefits cheat faces jail term after claiming £20k

November 25 2016

A scheming mum is facing jail after she lied to benefits bosses that she had split from her husband to rake in £20,000 in handouts – all the while taking foreign holidays with him with the defrauded cash. Elizabeth Moir told the Department for Work and Pensions she was a single mum and had split from her husband Ian. But in reality they were living under the same roof, sharing a bank account and taking holidays together. A probe was launched after Moir told Dundee City Council her husband, who works full-time for tyre firm Michelin, had not lived with her between 1997 and 2013. Neighbours told investigators that they had in fact been living together with their children the entire time. Depute fiscal Trina Sinclair told Dundee Sheriff Court: “In October 2010 she notified the DWP they had separated. “At annual reviews she declared some changes in her circumstances but maintained she was single. During the period both her and her husband maintained two joint bank accounts. “Household expenses were paid from there. They were jointly on the accused’s Motability car insurance policy. “They had also been taking holidays abroad together. The accused’s husband denied any knowledge of a joint tax credit claim. “He said he had returned to the matrimonial home in 2010 but that they had remained separate until 2012 when they reconciled. “Neighbours said they had lived together at the property as a family for at least 10 years.” Moir, 52, of Traquair Gardens, Dundee, pleaded guilty to a charge under the Tax Credits Act committed between October 2010 and August 2013. Sheriff Lorna Drummond QC deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports. She said: “You have pled guilty to this offence and because of the serious nature of it I’m calling for a criminal justice social work report before I decide on the sentence.”


Davidson calls for end to home leave for convicted murders in wake of McIntosh case

February 22 2018

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said convicted murderers should no longer be allowed home leave. Speaking after Robbie McIntosh was given a lifelong restriction order at the High Court in Aberdeen for a brutal attack on Dundee dog walker Linda McDonald in Templeton Woods last year, Ms Davidson urged First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to scrap home leave for convicted murders. Speaking at First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Davidson said "When cases like today's emerge, the question from the public is why again? "Why is a killer let loss to try to kill again? Why are the dice loaded against victims and in favour of criminals again? "Why do we only act when another family is left to pick up the pieces of their lives? She demanded: "Home leave for convicted murderers, where they are free to walk the streets before they even face the parole board, should be reviewed. "The question from the public is why again are the dice loaded in the favour of criminals and not their victims. "Home leave for convicted murderers where they are fee to walk the streets before they have even met the parole board has to end.  Is it not that simple?" Ms Davidson said last year there were more than 4,000 cases where prisoners were granted such home leave before they had been in front of a parole board. She said: "I don't think it is unreasonable for the public to expect prisoners to serve their time." But SNP leader Ms Sturgeon said home leave was a "long-established" part of the rehabilitation process. She said: "The worst thing to do is to have a prisoner simply released on the last day of their sentence without any steps to reintegrate them. "That's why a system of home leave is an important part of the criminal justice system". Ms Sturgeon also said the SPS' serious incident review into the circumstances leading to McIntosh being granted home leave have now been passed to MAPPA Tayside, the body responsible for monitoring serious offenders. And she promised "lessons would be learned" from the McIntosh case. She said: "Any lessons learned from this case, and undoubtedly there will be, then of course they require to be applied for the future as well. "I can entirely understand and sympathise with the views of the family. If I was in the shoes of the family members of this victim, I would be saying exactly the same things. "However, I would say that it is right that the most rigorous of risk assessments are undertaken by the prison service as opposed to the parole board to decide on matters of home leave. It's also important that strict conditions are applied. "These are not simple issues, these are really complex issues."


Speed limits set to be slashed across Dundee

June 3 2016

Dundee residents have just under four weeks left to have their say on proposals to reduce the speed limit to 20mph on hundreds of residential streets. The City Council launched one of its biggest-ever consultation exercises on the proposals last November. It would see speed limits cut to 20mph across large swathes of the city. Principal roads such as Perth Road, the Kingsway, Lochee Road and the A92 Tay Road Bridge would be unaffected. But hundreds of other streets could see the speed limits slashed if the council presses ahead with the plans, including Forth Crescent in Menzieshill and Buttar's Loan. The consultation closes on June 30. The local authority will then analyse the responses before councillors are asked to vote on the changes. Will Dawson, convener of Dundee City Council's city development committee said: "This is one of the longest running and thorough consultation exercises that we have ever undertaken because we recognise the importance of the issues involved. "It is also clear from the informal feedback I've had that road safety and the volume and speed of traffic are hot topics in neighbourhoods throughout Dundee. "We want to hear what people have to say and take into account their opinions when we make decisions about the future of the roads network in Dundee, so I would strongly encourage everyone to visit our website to make their voices heard. "Anyone who wants to take part should go to www.dundeecity.gov.uk/20mphconsultation before June 30. There are already a number of 20mph streets in Dundee and in February the new, lower speed limits were also introduced in Mill o' Mains, Harestane Road and the new Western Gateway housing development. Safety campaign groups such as the charity Brake have long advocated the introduction of lower speed limits and said it is "wholeheartedly" behind the City Council's plans. A driver can bring a car travelling at 20mph to a halt in 12 metres compared to the 23 metres it takes travelling at 30mph. And if someone is hit by a car travelling at 20mph there it a 10% chance they will be killed, compared to a 50% chance if the car is moving at 30mph. Brake spokesman Dave Nichols said: “Everybody has the right to walk or cycle to school, to work, or around their local community without fear of being knocked down by fast traffic. "That’s why Brake works with communities across the country to help them achieve road safety improvements in their area, and we are wholeheartedly behind plans to introduce 20mph speed limits throughout Dundee. "Widespread 20mph limits are a proven way to reduce casualties, particularly among more vulnerable road users. "As part of the GO20 campaign, Brake is calling for the national urban default speed limit to be reduced to 20mph. "This would remove administrative and financial barriers for local authorities such as Dundee City Council, and end the current lottery whereby your postcode dictates whether you benefit or not.”


Monday Matters: Dundee’s Lynx Effect is the stench of desperation

March 13 2017

For years, the makers of Lynx deodorant ran an advertising campaign based on the premise of something called the "Lynx Effect." This, according to the campaign, was the simple fantasy that the smell of Lynx was so overpowering that women could not control themselves around the wearer. Needless to say, this makes Lynx incredibly popular with teenage boys, or at least until they learn that when it comes to some overpowering scents, less is definitely more. But Dundee has its own Lynx effect and it really does stink. The Co-Op supermarket on Albert Street has been forced to add security tags to £2.89 bottles of Lynx shower gel as well as a host of other essentials. While it might be amusing to imagine there is a roaring black market for over-priced shower gels, the truth is the Co-Op's decision is indicative of something far worse: that some people are now so desperately poor they have been reduced to stealing basic items. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/383555/its-tragic-dundee-supermarket-applies-security-tags-to-lynx-shower-gel/ One of the 21st century's less amazing achievements is not just that foodbanks have proliferated – it's that they are so commonplace they have become accepted. When some people are so poor they rely on hand-outs just to eat, it's no surprise that other basics have also become too expensive to afford. It's easy to say that certain brands of shower gel are a luxury but the old saying rings true: beggars can't be choosers. Whatever is on the shelves will be what gets stolen. For people on low incomes, the choices on how they spend their money are not just more limited, they are harsher. Do you feed the meter or feed yourself? How much of a necessity is soap, toothpaste or washing powder when your kids are going hungry? There are many reasons people find themselves living in poverty and Dundee has more than its fair share of those on the breadline. There have always been haves and have nots. But years of austerity, unemployment, drugs and lack of opportunity has widened the gap to an obscene degree. Now being one of the haves just means being able to wash without having to break the law first.


Dundee FC beer festival pulls in the crowds

June 26 2017

Dundee FC held its first ever beer festival on Saturday in the Bobby Cox stand and in an adjoining marquee. The event allowed visitors to sample a range of craft beers, lagers, gins and cocktails. Entertainment was provided by a number of bands including Jive Candy, Paper Tiger and the Lawson Brothers.