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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...

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


Half of Turner Prize-winning artist’s new exhibition opens at DCA

March 4 2017

A new exhibition of work by Turner Prize-winning Mark Wallinger has opened simultaneously at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) and The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. MARK WALLINGER MARK is split into two parts and will be shown in both venues until Sunday 4 June. It is the first exhibition in Scotland by the artist and features Wallinger’s most recent body of work: the id Paintings (2015-16). These are presented alongside a series of sculptures, films and wall-based works which further explore the themes of identity, reflection and perception addressed in his new work. In the Dundee half of the exhibition, 12 of Wallinger’s id Paintings surround a new work, Self (Symbol) (2017), a capitalized ‘I’ aggrandized as a three dimensional statue the height of the artist. The id Paintings have grown out of Wallinger’s extensive series of self-portraits, and they reference the artist’s own body. His height – and therefore his arm span – is the basis of the canvas size. They are exactly this measurement in width and double in height. Wallinger described the paintings as the basis of both the Dundee and Edinburgh exhibitions. "There are different works in the two spaces, but these are the starting point, or spine if you like," he said. "There is quite a lot of work around the idea of identity and my presence." Video pieces are also included in the DCA gallery, including Shadow Walker in which the artist filmed his shadow walking ahead of him. In MARK, a 2010 creation, Wallinger chalked the title all over the city of London within the parameters of single standard-sized brick. This deadpan tagging is rendered as a photographic slideshow, made up of 2,265 images. A mirrored TARDIS is also on display in the exhibition. Wallinger said the development of Dundee had been notable in the time since he first visited the city to prepare for the gallery. "I came up here about a year ago to look around and think about how this show might be hung. "There has been so much work, lots of work, on the V&A since then. It looks amazing already - I quite like it as it is." Beth Bate, director of DCA, said: "We’re delighted to be welcoming Mark Wallinger to our galleries and to be working alongside The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh in this compelling exhibition of two parts. "Mark's first show in Scotland features his new body of work, the enigmatic id Paintings. "We can’t wait to welcome audiences to this exciting exhibition." MARK WALLINGER MARK is a collaboration between Serlachius Museums, The Fruitmarket Gallery, and the DCA.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus Council sought to collect samples of children’s DNA

January 3 2011

Angus Council's use of biometric systems continues to provoke a backlash, with one parent revealing the council asked to collect DNA samples from her child. Alliance councillor and education convener Peter Nield last week said there had been no opt-outs by parents unhappy about their children being fingerprinted for the library books and school meals systems. But the councillor's claim sparked an angry reaction from parents. Many families contacted The Courier to insist they had indeed opted out, and a Kirriemuir dad said the programme was tantamount to "brainwashing". Now, another local mum has revealed her opposition to the systems being used in Angus. "In 2001, my child arrived home from an Angus primary school with a package of letters concerning 'research' that the council had sanctioned to take place within their schools," said the mum, adding that the proposals included DNA sample collections. "Naturally I was concerned and had a number of questions about the ethics of this practice. I wrote to Angus Council's then director of education, Jim Anderson, about my concerns and his response did not allay those concerns. "The introduction of biometric technology in Angus schools is of great interest and concern to me," added the mum. "Article 8 of the Human Rights Act states that we all have the right to privacy. "It appears to me that Angus Council does not recognise that there are important ethical issues surrounding the collection of DNA and biometric data from children attending school. "Providing people living in Angus with information about the introduction biometric technology and listening to their views would surely have been possible. "For ethical reasons I did not give consent for my child's DNA to be collected; it was entirely inappropriate for that approach to have been made through a primary school by Angus Council." Photo by Flickr user micahb37.


Spit kits hailed for help in tracking down bus offenders

January 29 2013

Transport chiefs are hailing the success of a scheme that has seen bus drivers in Dundee equipped with CSI-style miniature DNA kits to help police track down people who spit at staff or fellow passengers. The “spit kits” include swabs, gloves and hermetically sealed bags which allow National Express drivers to take saliva samples and protect them from contamination before they are sent for forensic analysis. First introduced around six years ago, the scheme is now being refreshed owing to its success in preventing anti-social behaviour on buses and tracking down offenders. One such culprit was traced and successfully prosecuted using DNA evidence collected at the scene after an assault on a driver in Dundee last month. Phil Smith, managing director of National Express Dundee, said: “Incidents of spitting on our vehicles are few and far between, but these rare occasions are unacceptable to us, our staff and our customers. “We have invested in these DNA kits to help Tayside Police track down the few individuals who are guilty of this disgusting behaviour.” Saliva samples are stored in a fridge before being despatched for forensic analysis. Arrest plans are put in place should returned DNA results point to a suspect already known to police. If not, the DNA record is kept on file, with the case resurrected if the suspect is later arrested on another matter. PC Gill Grant, a community safety officer with Tayside Police, said: “Tayside Police is always keen to support any initiative which helps detect people committing crimes in the community. “Incidents on buses are rare, but we hope these kits prove to be a deterrent to anyone considering assaulting a driver or fellow passenger.” Anyone who witnesses anti-social behaviour during their journey can report the incident to police by calling the non-emergency number on 0300 111 2222, or 999 in an emergency situation.

Readers' letters

Beavers and farming cannot exist together

March 25 2016

Sir, - I refer to Monday’s article featuring Chris Packham’s call for legal protection for beavers. It was claimed there was evidence suggesting beavers may prevent flooding. The article cited a Stirling University study that “found their dams act like a sponge by storing then slowly releasing water”. Actually, the Stirling report provides no such evidence. One assertion theStirling report is definite about is “by building dams, beavers raise and stabilise water levels, thus maintaining asubmerged lodge orburrow entrance. This reduces predation risk while increasing access to inundated wooded riparian zones.” This I find difficult to square with the notion of reducing downstream flooding by keeping the water in the uplands as, unless the beavers are obliging enough to empty their dams during periods of low rainfall, then any spare capacity has already been used up even before it starts to rain. Furthermore, the raised water table increases the area ofpermanently saturated ground, thus the sponge the article speaks of is already soaked, resulting in even faster run off. Finally, even theScottish NaturalHeritage report to the Government acknowledges that during periods of spate, these dams may wash away so water which would otherwise have already passed downstream is then added to the spate waters. I would await evidence to the contrary, but from any objective position, when you think about it, rather than blandly accepting the assertion, I I think that beavers reducing downstream flooding is a myth. Now before we all don helmets and retreat to our preconceived positions, it is important to remember this is not an animal issue; beavers will do what beavers do. It is a human issue and goes to the heart of what we want to do with ourcountryside. There is a straightforward choice, not necessarily a simple one, but it boils down to arable farming in low-lying artificially managed areas or uncontrolled beavers. There cannot be both. Just about rule number one in any wildlife reintroduction is to not undertake it in an area of maximum human-to-animal conflict. An area top of such a list to avoid would be the Strathmore Valley. These animals did not need to be here and their very presence is an actively human engineered result with all sorts of other ramifications which shine a light on the way our country is run. Tayside is the lead area in this and the rest of the country will not thank us if they feel they have been bounced into an outcome over which they had no knowledge. Euan Walker-Munro. Mains of Kinnettles, Forfar. Role of Darwin’s grandfather Sir, - With reference to your series of articles, Charles Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus deserves a mention in the controversy over PatrickMatthew (1790 to 1874). Like Charles, he trained at Edinburgh Medical School. The Scot, JamesHutton, the “father of modern geology”, had published his Theory of the Earth in 1795. Erasmus Darwin expanded it in 1796 into an entire theory of nature in Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life, suggesting that “all warm-blooded animals have arisen from oneliving filament”, and anticipating the survival of the fittest theory. Charles Darwin refined that further, helped by anotherScottish geologist Sir Charles Lyell in On the Origin of Species (1859). Moreover, JamesBurnett (Lord Monboddo, 1714 to 1799), another wide-ranging genius of the Scottish Enlightenment and friend of Burns and Boswell, previouslytheorised about natural selection. Matthew probably knew that. ErasmusDarwin may have met him; he certainly knew of Monboddo’s work so it is probable that hisgrandson did too. John Birkett. 12 Horseleys Park, St Andrews. DNA setbackfor evolution Sir, - It has been amusing to watch the disgraceful cat-fight betweenscientists over theTheory of Evolution. One has resorted to atrociouslanguage to defend the findings of CharlesDarwin. Now if that is howevolutionists treateach other, imaginewhat they would do if someone dared tosuggest that CharlesDarwin was wrong. I am sure that will happen more and more when full details of the createdlanguage within DNA becomes more widely known. Charles Wilson. King’s Road, Rosyth. Trump may have right idea Sir, - The latest reports from Brussels indicate that terrorists have killed at least 34 people and wounded many more, some with life-threatening injuries (March 23). This is yet another massacre of innocents by religious maniacs. The head of Interpol said that 5,000 jihadists are at large in theEuropean Union, having slipped in from Syria, with an estimated 700 now in the UnitedKingdom. Jihadists find it too easy to infiltrate Europe posing as refugees and set up cells in no-go areas to plan attacks. These Muslim no-go enclaves in Europeancities are breeding grounds for Islamicradicalism where the police and otherauthorities have to ask permission to enter. Imams who tell usthat Islam is the religion of peace will, I trust, now vigorously call for the end of these divisive no-go areas in France, Germany, Sweden and Britain to help ensure the end of terrorist cells in Europe. If they do not, then Europeans may agree that Donald Trump had the right idea. Clark Cross. 138 Springfield Road, Linlithgow. Don’t follow Dundee’s lead Sir, - Perth is right to resist the demolition of its city hall. Across Europe, cities have retained theirhistoric character by careful preservation and in some cases, reconstruction after wars. We in Britain on the other hand, have always favoured the wrecking ball of demolition. Dundee’s greatWilliam Adam Dundee town house was torn down. In its place was built City Square which isseldom used and home to wind-blown litter. I cannot believe that this is what the people of Perth wish to copy. I believe there is an appetite to find a new use for Perth City Hall. A windy square in the middle of town would be out of keeping with a great city like Perth. Bob Ferguson. North Muirton, Perth. Square is way ahead for Perth Sir, - If Perth and Kinross Council demolished the city hall when originally planned we would already have had several years of enjoyment of a civic square. It is time that thecouncil, would-bedevelopers and Historic Scotland got real, and accepted the building has no future. I cannot be the only one who, even in better times, considered the building to behideously ugly. On top of that we now have an aura of neglect. This applies also to the degenerating surrounding streets and pavements, which clearly will not be fixed whileuncertainty remains. Arthur Davis. The Haining, Atholl Park, Dunkeld. Keep traffic out of city centre Sir, - With reference to the calls for Dundeecity centre to be re-opened to motor traffic, many of us appreciate that there is at least some space where we canwander without being molested by cars. It is peaceful and,contrary to what some claim, I am sure itfacilitates rather than discourages shopping. Antony Black. 79 Blackness Avenue, Dundee. Businesses in charity guise? Sir, - Dundee City Council is making reductions in grants to charities. Surely these organisations can use theirvolunteers to fundraise? Or are they businesses who employ staff and who pretend to be voluntary, in order to make use of the tax breaks? I am a director of a charitable organisation. We have no paid staff and raise all of our funds. None of our volunteers, receive any remuneration or expenses. Perhaps some other local charities shouldfollow our lead. Steve Pegg. 8 Davan Place, Broughty Ferry.

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