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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...


Woman’s sudden death leaves her family devastated

February 26 2014

A Dundee woman has died suddenly at the age of 54, leaving her family devastated. Trisha Balfour, a legal secretary with Digby Brown solicitors, went in to Ninewells Hospital for keyhole surgery for a liver complaint. A potential problem with her pancreas was then detected, but tests gave her the all-clear. She underwent the surgery and her family were looking forward to her recovery when, without warning, she suffered a brain haemorrhage and could not be saved. Her brother Michael said: “We’re in shock and disbelief at what happened to Trisha. “She went into hospital for the keyhole surgery and then they wanted to check an issue with her pancreas, but she came through these things and everything seem to be going OK. “Then she suffered this massive bleeding without warning and nothing could be done for her. We’re devastated.” Trisha, who lived in Scone, leaves a daughter Shanna, 15, partner Bob Salter, mother Audrey and brothers Brian and Michael. Born in Dundee, Trisha worked as a legal secretary with Simpson Boath in the city. She also had a thriving hobby making bespoke teddy bears and marketed them on her own website. Trisha’s death is the second tragedy to hit the Balfour family in three years. In 2012 her cousin Roderick died of bowel disease after suffering six months of stomach pains and his father Ron blamed Ninewells Hospital for not picking up his condition. NHS Tayside expressed condolences and outlined the treatment given, but stopped short of admitting any wrongdoing.

Perth & Kinross

Good Samaritan confronted woman’s boyfriend after assault

March 6 2018

A Good Samaritan ran to the aid of a woman after she was pushed to the ground by her boyfriend. Lauren McDonald ordered Mark Taylor to leave Shannon MacAuley alone following the altercation in Blairgowrie. Ms McDonald told Perth Sheriff Court she was walking to a friend’s house when she heard screaming just as she entered the car park at Blairgowrie’s Sainsbury’s store. The 20-year-old said: “I was on the phone to my friend  and was walking behind the police station when I heard screaming. “I heard someone saying ‘help’ and then muffled screaming like someone had a hand over their mouth. “I came into the car park and saw a female getting pushed to the ground.  I went over and shielded her and told him to go away. I turned to look at her and when I looked back he was gone.” She added that Ms MacAuley appeared to be bleeding and she had helped her to the nearby police station. Ms MacAuley, who is still in a relationship with Taylor, told the court that both of them had been drinking and an argument had started. She said she had fallen as a result of tripping over her own feet. She said: “He shoved me but because I was drunk I tripped over my own feet and fell. I’m not known for being able to handle my drink well.” She added that she had opposed the court applying bail conditions that meant the two were unable to be in contact, resulting in her being forced to move in with her parents. Taylor admitted assaulting Ms MacAuley by pushing her, causing her to fall to the ground and hit her head, at Sainsbury’s car park, Blairgowrie, on December 22 last year. Sheriff William Wood told him: “This sort of behaviour is completely unacceptable.” He fined Taylor, of Ruby Place, Rattray, was fined £600.


Fred MacAulay: Why it doesn’t feel like I’ve been a comedian for 30 years and (ac)counting!

April 7 2018

Michael Alexander meets Perth-born stand-up comedian Fred MacAulay as he embarks upon a 30th anniversary tour. Fred MacAulay doesn’t get heckled very often. He certainly doesn’t expect it to happen at black tie dinners. But as the Perth-born comedian talks candidly about the highlights – and occasional lowlights - of his 30-year stand-up career, he reveals that during a corporate event in York last year, he faced his most challenging audience in a decade. “I hadn’t (had a set that) died quite so badly for nearly10 years,” laughs the Perth-born funny man, over coffee at the recently revamped Perth Theatre. “But through the art of negative thinking I just knew this wasn’t going to be a good gig – until I redeemed myself in the last few minutes! “It was in the National Railway Museum in York: a fantastic place - but not a venue for stand-up. “There were 30 tables of 10 - some 300 people. A number of people didn’t make it because they were drunk. I ploughed on and got to about 20 minutes – you get to the point of ‘have I done enough to justify sending an invoice?’ “And I was just about at that stage when an obese bloke stood up and in broad Glaswegian shouted ‘Fred is there any cheese?’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yumPjLHZVaA “I just stopped and said ‘what?’ He replied, ‘Is there any cheese?’ I said ‘mate, I’ve been doing stand up for 30 years and I’ve never been heckled by ‘is there any cheese’. “And I said ‘to be honest the last thing you need is cheese’! The rest of the audience gelled and I was able to finish off the gig.” Fred hasn’t done a full tour of England since autumn 2014. Describing it as a “chore”, he says “dark nights in Norwich are no good for anyone” and he has no plans to tour south of the border anytime soon. But as he prepares to embark upon a 21-date tour of Scotland to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his initiation into the world of stand-up comedy, he’s looking forward to visiting some of his favourite Scottish venues – including his ‘home coming’ gig at Perth Theatre on June 9, and a recently arranged ‘Audience With’ type event he is hosting with Kirkcaldy-born crime author Val McDermid as part of Perth Festival of the Arts on May 26. “This is the first time I’ve been in Perth Theatre since the (£16.6 million) revamp and my first impressions are it’s very spacious,” says the 61-year-old on a whistle stop tour of the auditorium. “It’s very modern on the outside, and the auditorium is a very traditional theatre on the inside - just as I remember Perth Theatre from coming as a boy to the pantomime, to performing in it in the past.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4tCti8Zpqg Nowadays, Fred is acknowledged as one of the country’s finest and most recognisable stand-ups. He presented a daily BBC Scotland radio programme MacAulay and Co for 18 years and has appeared on numerous satirical panel TV shows including Have I Got News For You, QI and Mock the Week. In the late 1990s he hosted a series of the talk show McCoist and MacAulay (with retired Rangers footballer Ally McCoist). He’s also been a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe – including his topical ‘Frederendum’ in 2014 – and served a term as Dundee University rector from 2001. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Arpj_KpM8rY But he wasn’t always a household name! Fred was in his 30s before he took the plunge and decided to give up his steady work as a financial accountant to pursue full-time comedy. Born in Perth and brought up in the “idyllic surroundings” of Killin, Rattray/Blairgowrie and Perth where his father was a police officer, rural Perthshire might not seem the most obvious place to inspire a stand-up career. But Fred recalls having an interest in comedy as far back as primary school. “I can remember wanting to do it from a very early age,” he says reflectively. “I was a very small boy - a late developer. “It’s a classic case of if I made people laugh I got a bit of attention. “I wasn’t getting attention for sporting prowess or anything like that. “I always enjoyed humour as a way of communicating. “I certainly remember at primary school in Rattray for some reason being in front of the class doing some kind of sketch. “But that’s about as much as I can remember. That was my first experience of adrenalin.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFD2chS2IBo Fred flirted with the debating society at Blairgowrie High School, adding that he was “never really a leading light.” While studying accountancy at Dundee University, around the time of his 20th birthday, he enjoyed “mucking about with the lads” mimicking people and wondered, in the back of his mind, if it was a talent he might develop. Pressure to get a “real job”, a young family and bills to pay saw him go on to work as accountant for the Cairngorm Chairlift Company in Aviemore. At 31 years old, however, Fred looked at how his life was going and decided he wanted to do something more fulfilling than number crunching. He entered a ‘So You Think You’re Funny’ competition at Glasgow’s Mayfest and with scarcely five minutes of his own material walked on stage as a stand-up comedian for the very first time. Within a couple of years, the young father-of-three  was MC’ing The Comedy Store in London and decided that he should hang up his accountancy calculators for good – doing just that on February 1, 1993. “Anyone who’s seen my work will know it’s a mix of satire and observational comedy,” he says. “Family, current affairs - whatever is happening in the world of politics. “But it’s not always as simple as people think. People say ‘this must be the best time in the world for stand-up comedy because there’s Brexit, the independence question and Trump’. “I always say ‘no it’s not because the job of a stand-up comedian is to point out the nuances in a story that people have maybe missed’. “I can’t stand out on a stage and say ‘wait til you hear this, Donald Trump is a bit of an a**e!’ - because they already know!” Fred’s ‘30 years on’ tour runs over five months and, as well as Perth, includes Courier Country visits to the Byre Theatre, St Andrews (May 5); Webster Theatre, Arbroath (June17); Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline (July 14) and Pitlochry Festival Theatre (Sep 23). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5pRiXtrdGk It will feature anecdotes about his career and aims to stay fresh with an injection of topical material along the way. But Fred still can't quite believe it's been three decades. “The mid-point of those 30 years is 2003 – 15 years ago – and I can remember 2003 like that!” he says. “That was when I did my one and only group entertainment trip to Iraq. The second Gulf War. “Fighting stopped April/May and we were out there in September. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CHgm8Bc0_Q “British troops were still there. It was still pretty feisty. A couple of the gigs got cancelled because of fire fights. “There was a band, a singer, a ventriloquist, the dancers – and Fred MacAuley. I was the MC - an open air gig with 1500 squaddies - it was a tremendous experience.” Away from stand-up, Fred’s main existence these days is after-dinner events. With more Radio Four projects coming up, the keen golfer also supports charities close to his heart. These include Diabetes UK inspired by his son Jack having Type 1 diabetes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFVh_R5seU4 But he admits he’s probably “had his time” when it comes to TV panel shows. “I’ll joke about it on stage on my 30th anniversary tour – television has a way of letting you know how your career is going,” he says. “Twenty years ago I did McCoist and MacAuley. My name was attached to the title. “The last thing I did was called Pointless Celebrities!” he laughs. “Perhaps they are trying to tell me something!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-c3ub7m4feI Fred is conscious that the style of comedy he does and the subjects he talks about resonate with a certain populace. “I’m never going to get the millennials coming to see a Fred MacAulay show,” he smiles. “I speak a different language - more Facebook and less Snapchat!” But one of the things that he’s most pleased about regarding his now grown up family is that they have “all developed an acute sense of humour”. “Sometimes you’ll get a joke wrong because you’ll form the words wrongly in your mind between brain and mouth - something happens and you’ll get the sentence round the wrong way, “ he says. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qnrFGSMcUE “But you’ll never quite know how good a line is until you’ve said it out loud in front of a room of people. “Even after 30 years I’ll still come up with things I have to run by people. “I’m delighted to say that all my children have got acute senses of humour. I’m as likely to try lines with them as my wife Aileen or another comic. “As I told Steve Wright on the radio the other day, I started with three children and I’ve now got three adults. They’ve become pals. You don’t bollock them. I enjoy their company as much as pals. That’s a great thing.” www.fredmacaulay.com

Angus & The Mearns

Montrose man sentenced for filming men in Aberdeen supermarket toilets

February 27 2014

An Angus man has been placed on the sex offenders register for three years after he secretly filmed men in the toilets of a north-east supermarket. Website designer Martyn Smith, 25, appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court for sentencing after having pled guilty to recording a man in the toilets of Asda at Garthdee, Aberdeen. The charge also stated Smith recorded other men, whose identities are unknown. The offence took place on September 4 last year. Depute fiscal Sally McAuley said a man was using a urinal when he saw a camera above a cubicle door. Ms McAuley said: “Initially he thought someone had left it, but saw the object moving.” The court heard the man saw someone leaving the toilets and ran after him. The man he followed was Smith, who admitted he had been taking pictures. Police were contacted, and when interviewed Smith admitted taking pictures and videos of men for “sexual gratification”. He told police that the filming had gone on for 20 minutes and that he had deleted the images after. Smith’s defence agent said that her client was gay, but that none of his friends or family knew. During sentencing Smith’s defence agent told the court: “He is truly and genuinely remorseful for his actions.” Sheriff Graeme Napier told Smith, of Bents Road, Montrose, that he would hand him a community payback order. As well as being on the sex offenders register, Smith will be under supervision for three years, and he will also have to attend the Tay Project, which is operated by Angus Council. Sheriff Napier warned Smith that if he did not comply he would have to come back to court.

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.


Neil Lennon parcel bomb pair fail to overturn convictions

March 14 2013

Two men jailed for sending parcel bombs to Celtic manager Neil Lennon and other high-profile supporters of the club have lost an attempt to have their convictions overturned. Trevor Muirhead, 44, and Neil McKenzie, 43, were jailed for five years in April last year for conspiring to assault Lennon, former MSP Trish Godman and the late QC Paul McBride by sending devices they believed were capable of exploding and causing severe injury. McKenzie, from Saltcoats in Ayrshire, and Muirhead, from Kilwinning in Ayrshire, tried to have their convictions quashed at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh, where a hearing in the case was held in December. Their legal teams argued there was insufficient evidence to allow the jury at the trial to find that the pair believed the packages were capable of exploding. But three senior appeal judges ruled that both convictions should stand. During a brief hearing, judge Lord Menzies told the court: "These appeals are refused."


Cher shows her support for the campaign to find Corrie McKeague

September 20 2017

Pop superstar Cher has boosted the search for missing Fife airman Corrie McKeague. The multi-award-winning singer and actress, who has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, retweeted a picture of the Dunfermline serviceman after a supporter of the Find Corrie campaign contacted her on social media. https://twitter.com/DevilofKent39/status/908568297808916481 Tweeting to Cher, Wes Vincent explained that Corrie had been missing for 11 months and asked her to spread the word to her 3.45 million Twitter followers. The move was welcomed by Corrie's mother, Nicola Urquart. Ms Urquart said: "Thank you Cher for taking the time to retweet for my missing son Corrie." https://twitter.com/nicola_urquhart/status/909054735428268032 Corrie was 23 when he disappeared and his devastated family marked his 24th birthday at the weekend without him. Sunday will be the first anniversary of him going missing after a night out in Bury St Edmunds and Ms Urquhart said the next few weeks would be the "toughest yet". This weekend, Corrie's father Martin McKeague and his wife Trisha will be helping police in their search for potential new witnesses in Bury St Edmunds. A police pod will be set up in the town centre, where the couple will join officers with the aim of jogging people's memory about events 12 months ago. The pod will be set up from 9pm on Friday to 5am on Saturday morning, and will be open during the day throughout the weekend. Mr McKeague said: "Trisha and I will be there with the police to talk to anyone who might be able to add anything to the facts that we already have." Posting on Facebook, he added that a five-figure reward for information leading to the discovery of Corrie's whereabouts still stood. "Anyone who thinks they might be able to help please contact the Suffolk police incident room on 01473 782019. You can also provide information anonymously on that number if you choose to," he said. Earlier this year, officers from Suffolk Constabulary spent 20 weeks sifting through waste at a Cambridgeshire landfill site for traces of the missing airman. It is believed that following a night out drinking, Corrie may have fallen asleep in a bin and ended up at the Milton landfill site. He was last seen in the early hours of September 24 walking into a loading bay known as the The Horseshoe which is used as a bin store. Police said Corrie had a history of falling asleep in unusual places.

Angus & The Mearns

Family find Letham nurse’s death ‘difficult to comprehend’

March 26 2013

An Angus community has been shocked by the sudden death of a popular nurse and mother of two. Susan McAuley from Letham took ill on Saturday morning and, despite attempts to revive her, she passed away at the family home in the village she shared with her husband Peter, 50, and sons Matthew, 22, and 20-year old David. Keep-fit enthusiast Mrs McAuley, 48, had been in good health and her tragic death has left family and friends stunned. Her husband, a team manager with Angus Council, said: “Susan was a deeply committed nurse and was devoted to her family. “She lived for her two boys and was so proud of them. We are all completely devastated at her sudden death and find it difficult to comprehend.” Mrs McAuley was a charge nurse on the Rowan Ward at the Susan Carnegie Unit in Stracathro Hospital. She began her 30-year career as a nurse in Tayside at the former Sunnyside Hospital outside Montrose. Brought up in the Douglas area of Dundee, she attended St Saviour’s RC High School. Her enthusiasm for keep-fit saw her regularly attend the leisure centre in Forfar and she was well known in Letham, where she had lived for 17 years. Susan is also survived by her mother Tilda, brother Gerard and sister Doreen. Arrangements for her funeral are yet to be finalised.

Readers' letters

Cancer charity letter a timely warning

June 14 2013

Sir, Jim Smith’s letter about the charity Coping With Cancer North East is timely. We received one of their donation bags and my wife and I noticed that it is allegedly a registered charity in England and Wales, but not in Scotland. Fearing that someone had stolen some of their collection bags and was distributing in Scotland without their knowledge, I contacted Coping with Cancer North East to alert them that their bags were being distributed in our village. I did not get even a whisper of a reply, which makes me wonder if Coping With Cancer North East is a real charity. Surely, if it is, someone would have contacted me to reassure me, or, if the bags are being distributed without their knowledge, to ask for further information. There have been scandals in the past surrounding donation bag collections for “charities” and even the big names have been affected. I would urge people to be cautious about leaving bags full of donated materials out, especially for little-known organisations like Coping With Cancer North East. (Captain) Ian F. McRae. 17 Broomwell Gardens, Monikie. Bank pay-offis obscene Sir, Stephen Hester, chief executive of RBS, is being pushed out after a five-year tenure with a pay-off of £5.6 million. Surely this is totally obscene? Mr Hester was on an impressive salary along with a bonus which makes the severance settlement even more absurd. When are the bank’s failures and the cost to the taxpayer going to be resolved? Jim Balneaves. 4 Tayside Place, Glencarse, Perth. Some things never change Sir, I read with interest the article in The Courier by Mark Mackay regarding the problems caused by the A85 passing through the centre of Crieff. Apart from the diminishing air quality caused by the ever-increasing volume of traffic, the constant stream of cars and lorries makes both shopping and communication a very hazardous experience for both young and old. Whilst, like many others, I am delighted with the efforts being made by the various groups and authorities to remedy the problems and restore quality living, I remain somewhat cynical about a remedy being put in place. In 1958 a planning inquiry by the former Perthshire County Council came up with a few gems which seem quite apposite some 55 years later! The following makes interesting reading: “Giving evidence yesterday at the resumed public inquiry into objections against the new proposed relief road for Crieff, Inspector James Scobie, Crieff, said that if traffic volume doubled in 20 years’ time, it would mean standstill conditions in the town’s main street. “Mr James S McGavin, the county council’s planning officer said that if the volume of traffic was doubled in 20 years’ time, the position in Crieff’s main street would become chaotic. Consideration has been given to widening the main street but the cost of acquiring property to achieve that would be prohibitive. “Proper by-pass roads were proposed but rejected. In his opinion the relief road was the correct solution to the problem. The planning authority recognised that Crieff was a holiday centre and therefore decided to keep the relief road as close as possible to the existing shopping centre.” In view of the present financial climate, I am afraid an early and obvious solution will be yet further delayed. Colin Mayall. 5a East High Street, Crieff. High hopes for bowling alley Sir, Good luck to the investors wishing to reinstate the former bowling alley in Glenrothes town centre. It should attract as many visitors to its doors as local people. The bingo halls, betting shops and our few remaining pubs seem to be doing a roaring trade (just try getting out of Morrisons’ car park on a weekend afternoon!) and our “carry-out” emporiums. Let’s have the bowling alley back. A T Geddie. 68 Carleton Avenue, Glenrothes. Still important to society Sir, Your editorial piece, A little faith can go a long way, June 11, was a superbly written and balanced piece of journalism. I do not understand why a few hundred, albeit very well organised, Scottish secularist activists want to drive out even the very minimum level of Christian observance in Scottish state schools. Apart from anything else, schoolchildren should see in practice some of the belief system which has been part of Scotland and its people for centuries. In our fragmented society church groups are still far more important and popular in the villages and towns of Scotland than any small secular society or club chattering in our big cities. As your piece put it, even those with no interest in organised religion should be glad to know “their children are being taught some traditional values”. Well done The Courier. I am sure you spoke for many. Angus Logan. 2 York Road, North Berwick.