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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...


Sangster’s touchline plea finally gets High on track

December 20 2015

Dundee High coach Colin Sangster had that look of a frustrated schoolteacher whose pupils just aren’t listening. “Boys, what are we doing?” he asked aloud as he walked to the touchline in a fair degree of exasperation as an ambitious off-load didn’t go to hand, little more than five minutes after he’d instructed his team to play simple rugby in the difficult windy conditions in Saturday’s BT National One match at Mayfield. High were 12-0 ahead against Peebles, so the situation was far from parlous, and the perception that the wind would help whichever team had it at their backs was only to be disproved as the second half went on. But the plaintive plea from their coach was the signal for High to start executing the basics, and five more tries to add to the two in the first half resulted in a 41-10 bonus point victory that keeps High in the thick of the promotion hunt. “It was a bit disjointed in the first half, but we had 10 players out and perhaps there were a few unfamiliar combinations,” said the coach at the end. “But when we played simple rugby and did the basics well, the scores started to come.” For all the experience peppered throughout the team Ross Lemon was making a rare appearance on the wing, Alan Brown and Andy Dymock at their usual stations it’s a young team that Sangster is nurturing. Although he was already minded to blood 18-year-old Euan Fox, the school’s first XV stand-off who made his debut off the bench last week, he was eventually forced to because of injuries and unavailability. “He’s an Academy player so we were originally told he could play no more than 40 minutes, but I was on the phone for a long time and convinced them to make it an hour,” said the coach. “I thought he did well and was coming on to a game when we had to take him off.” Duncan Leese, stand-off for much of this season and just a couple of years out of his school XV jersey himself, played at centre and scored two tries, showing how well High were able to plug the gaps left by the missing 10 players. Gav Hughan, moved to eight for the absent Dan Levison, also grabbed a brace, his first coming with the first “basics” try, via a series of strong pick-and-gos finally piercing the heart of the Peebles defence after a scorelsss first half-hour. The score that really broke open the game was the one just after Sangster’s plea, when Nick Alston booted a penalty down the line, the Dundee pack with captain Alan Brown controlling operations mauled with real authority, and Dymock was at his skipper’s shoulder for the off-load and score. Brown scored his usual try rumbling over from close range while full-back Mike Brown got the other after a peach of a long pass given the conditions from Alston. High remain third still five points behind Marr who also got their bonus. But with a festive season to patch up the wounded, and a pretty good mix of youth and experience at their disposal they’ve got themselves into great position to make a run in the New Year.

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


Parliamentarians plan appeal as they seek European court ruling on Brexit

February 9 2018

A group of parliamentarians plans to lodge a legal appeal in an attempt to secure a European court ruling on Brexit.The politicians believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally stop the UK leaving the EU if the final Brexit deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons.They want a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 can be halted by the UK on its own, without prior consent of the other 27 EU member states.The group took its fight to the Court of Session in Edinburgh but on Tuesday Judge Lord Doherty turned down a bid to have a full hearing on whether to refer the question to the Luxembourg Court, ruling the issue is  “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”.Now campaigners have announced plans to appeal against his ruling to the Inner House of the Court of Session.Two of the original group of seven have withdrawn – the SNP’s Joanna Cherry QC and Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine – while director of the Good Law Project, Jo Maugham QC, which has backed the crowdfunded legal action, has been added.The remaining five members are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, SNP MEP Alyn Smith and Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler.In a statement, Mr Maugham said they believe the judge’s decision was “flawed”.He added: “Establishing that, alongside the political route to revocability there is a legal route, is vital in the national interest.“If Parliament chooses not to withdraw the Article 50 notice then no harm is done by asking now the question whether it has that right.“But if Parliament does come to want to withdraw the notice, knowing it has the right to do so serves the national interest.“It improves the bargaining position of the UK, it ensures we retain the opt-outs and rebates that we presently enjoy, and it places the decision entirely in the hands of the UK’s Parliament and – if it chooses – its people.”Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve.David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address.The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said.Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic.“In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”

UK & World

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.


A Play, A Peh and A Pint at Dundee Rep

April 5 2011

It's surprising the phenomenon of a play, a pie and a pint didn't originate in Dundee given the city's historic association with the crusty delicacy. Nevertheless, Glasgow's Oran Mor cultural centre got there first in 2004, to be precise and the premise is simple: you get a short play, a pie and a drink all for the price of a theatre ticket. In a two-week collaboration with Oran Mor, Dundee Rep is presenting A Play, A Peh and A Pint, the first of which ran its course last week. What Love Is is a newly-commissioned work by Scottish playwright Linda McLean, focusing on the relationship between two ageing parents and their daughter. It is directed by Dundee Rep's graduate trainee Emma Faulkner. Inspired by an article in the news about euthanasia, McLean's short play sees Gene and Jean (Peter Kelly and Rep Ensemble member Irene Macdougall) attempting to make sense of the world inside their own four walls. After a playful beginning, when the pair appear to be enjoying themselves and staying young, a more serious and sinister plot involving ill-health begins to develop. Both Kelly and Macdougall portray the confused, paranoid and slightly maniacal characters with convincing ease, but the surprise arrival of their daughter (Lesley Hart) breaks their reminiscence and reverie. It is unclear how old, or mature, their daughter is, as she marches into the house in a bit of a tantrum wearing high wedge shoes. Hart presents the character as stressed and huffy, but her back story isn't certain is she a young woman struggling to cope with this harrowing situation, or is she older, her life on hold as her parents' mental health deteriorates? A powerful and thought-provoking piece, What Love Is transfers to Oran Mor in Glasgow's Byres Road this week. The production swaps places with St Catherine's Day, a delicate and humorous work written and narrated by Dundee's Michael Marra, which runs from tonight through until Saturday.Visit www.dundeereptheatre.co.uk for more information.

UK & World

Cross-party group loses bid to secure legal ruling on Brexit

February 6 2018

A cross-party group of parliamentarians has lost an early-stage bid to secure a European court ruling on Brexit.Seven politicians from four parties, not including the Conservatives, believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally halt the Brexit process if the final deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons.They claim this offers a third option instead of Britain having to choose between a bad deal on the UK’s future relationship with Europe or crashing out of the EU with no deal.The group is ultimately seeking a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union can be revoked by the UK on its own, without first securing the consent of the other 27 EU member states.Their legal team went to the Court of Session in Edinburgh last week to ask a judge to refer the question to the Luxembourg court.On Tuesday, judge Lord Doherty refused to move the case to a full hearing at Scotland’s highest civil court, saying the issue is “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”.The politicians have a right to appeal against the decision to the Inner House of the Court of Session.The seven elected representatives who launched the case are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, MEP Alyn Smith and Joanna Cherry QC MP of the SNP, Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler and Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine. None were present in court as the judge issued his decision.Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve.David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address.The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said.Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “I am mindful that demonstrating a real prospect of success is a low hurdle for an applicant to overcome.“However, I am satisfied that that hurdle has not been surmounted. Indeed, in my opinion, the application’s prospect of success falls very far short of being a real prospect.“In my view, the Government’s stated policy is very clear. It is that the notification under Article 50(2) will not be withdrawn.”He went on: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic.“In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”The judge concluded: “I am not satisfied that the application has a real prospect of success … Permission to proceed is refused.”The legal action was launched following a crowdfunding campaign and is backed by the Good Law Project.Project director Jo Maugham QC tweeted after the hearing: “It’s plainly in the national interest that MPs, MEPs and MSPs, who face a choice whether to approve Theresa May’s deal, know what options are open to them if they don’t.“I will support an appeal against this decision – to the Supreme Court if necessary.”


High still disappointed with fifth win in a row

October 25 2015

A fifth win in a row, bonus point comfortably secured, and the opposition restricted to one foray into their 22, so what was the message from head coach Colin Sangster in the Dundee High huddle at no-side at Mayfield on Saturday? “Disappointment”, and it was agreed unanimously by the players, which shows what kind of standard High are aspiring to as they climbed to third in BT National One after an ultimately comfortable 24-7 win over Stewarts Melville. The frustration stemmed from too many points left on the pitch, certainly enough to have passed the 40-point marker for the fourth week in succession if they’d been a touch more accurate. Too often flowing moves involving multiple handling, very much in the style Sangster is seeking to promote, ended in a pass a mite forward or balled spilled. “You’ll take the five points anytime, obviously,” said the coach. “But we’re aware that sort of performance won’t be good enough against the better sides in this league. We could have been over 40 points again easily today if we’d taken our opportunities.” Two interlinked factors were probably crucial in the missed chances, the loss of playmaker Duncan Leese to injury just after High scored their first try, causing a number of shuffles at half-back, and the team’s over-enthusiasm to play an open game in his absence. “Duncan’s the tactician and there would have been times when he’d just take territory or put the kick in behind,” said Sangster. “But fair enough, we have to have a better plan for when we lose key players like him.” The team do seem to be buying into Sangster’s plan for the club, which started in uncertain fashion with two home defeats and a draw at Kelso in their first three games, but has now brought four successive league wins, including the thriller last week against Watsonians at Myreside when Blair Cochrane scored the winning try with the last play of the game. The 37 points conceded in that match last week account for a third of the total so far, and it was just one missed open-field tackle on the stroke of half-time that produced Stewart Melville’s sole score on Saturday. The Inverleith side, in what seems like a major rebuild after narrowly missing promotion the last two years, barely threatened in the rest of the game. High took time to make their superiority count but when Andy Dymock’s pace caused mayhem in midfield, Ronan Joy, a late replacement for the injured Cochrane, went in for the opening score. Neil Herron, forming an incinsive partnership with Matt O’Sullivan in the centre, stepped and dodged for the second, and in the second half Nick Alston and skipper Alan Brown - with surely the easiest try he’ll score all year - went over for the other two. While the team’s much changed over the last couple of seasons, the spine remains the same with Brown anchoring the scrummage, and gaining his usual ascendancy there as the match went on, and the return of Danny Levison after a year at Heriot’s has re-ignited his partnership with Dymock, who is always a threat even when subbing at stand-off as he did for a time on Saturday. Levison remains a class act, athletic, pacy and brilliant at re-starts, and excellently complimented by the underrated Hamish Livingston at open side. They look like a team that can thrive in perfect conditions like Saturday and perhaps when the pitches start to get heavier from now on as well. In a tight league which has had some surprises so far - Marr leading, promoted Howe and Mussleburgh in the top five - that could be a great combination.

Readers' letters

Staying out of Madras tiresome onslaught

December 9 2014

Sir, I write in response to the recent letter by Mr Bill Sangster, headlined “More questions than answers”. I have become quite amused on occassions at the constant name-checking by opponents of the new Madras at Pipeland but have resisted the temptation to get involved in their, frankly, tiresome onslaught. But I cannot recall any letter that plummeted to the depths which Mr Sangster has sunk in his most recent correspondence. Mr Sangster’s comment: “ . . . explaining their relationship with Muir Hermiston is the least the public should expect”, is clearly a deliberate attempt to imply something improper involving Councillor Thomson, myself and Muir Hermiston. Given the public role I currently fulfil, the way in which I conduct myself is important and is particularly important with regard to planning applications. I view Mr Sangster’s letter as a deliberate attempt to defame myself (and Councillor Thomson and Muir Hermiston). That is also the opinion I have had, informally, from a legal source. Let me be absolutely clear, for the record: I have absolutely no relationship with Muir Hermiston; I have never met or been at any meeting with Muir Hermiston; and I wouldn’t recognise anyone from Muir Hermiston if they turned up on my doorstep. I am willing at this stage to accept that Mr Sangster has let his apparent personal animosity towards me and all things to do with Pipeland lead to his misjudgment. I trust and hope Mr Sangster has the decency and humility to publicly acknowledge that he has overstepped the mark on this occasion and withdraw his remarks. An apology wouldn’t go amiss. I await his response with interest. Bryan Poole, Independent councillor, Fife Council. Concerns over school changes Sir, I write to raise my concerns over Fife council’s proposal to reduce the length of the primary school week. I was unable to attend the council open evening on the proposed school changes but I have read the presentation published on the council website. This presentation suggests that annual school teaching hours do not influence student attainment. This is misleading. The 2012 OECD PISA report found that the more time students spend learning in school, on average, the higher their grades. What alternative evidence does the council have that the proposed cut to the primary school week will lead to educational benefits as claimed? Nicola Allison. Meadowside Road, Cupar. Irresponsible birth advice Sir, Improved maternal and perinatal survival was one of the 20th Century’s great public health achievements and to the chagrin of midwives, it resulted from improved medical technology. Midwives fought back by pretending the massive decreases in maternal and perinatal mortality had not occurred and childbirth was always as safe as it is today. This bitter turf war between obstetricians and midwives is a century old but now the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence claims home births are the safest option. While this advice has (small-print) provisos, encouraging women to think they will always be safe at home, miles from a hospital, is absolutely idiotic and criminally irresponsible. John Cameron. Howard Place, St Andrews. Council failing to meet needs Sir, Once again, St Andrews Community Council seem to be out of step with the needs of the majority in St Andrews, with regard to their “great concern” at the prospect of housing on the former New Park School playing fields, as reported in Saturday’s Courier. Instead of asking to have the plans thrown out, they should be asking for meaningful talks to be held with the developers and concerned others, to discuss ways of including the crying need for affordable new-build housing for the town. This would make best use of the land, if available. May I point out that this overgrown field is no wild flower meadow and is not and has never been part of the Lade Braes Walk. It is, therefore, seldom ever visited by anyone other than dog walkers. Although the loss of open space is usually undesirable, in this case, the prospect of affordable housing for St Andrians is the greater need. Joseph A Peterson. Kilrymont Road, St Andrews. Plasticine not just for children Sir, I write as a spirograph graduate (Lorraine Wilson, Courier, December 5), who recently rediscovered plasticine. This was at a “Messy Church” event at Hope Park and Martyrs in St Andrews, where adults and children were invited to make the sort of cups that might have contained the wine miraculously produced by Jesus at the wedding in Cana. What fun it was! So, some months later, I encouraged the adult-only congregation to take up their plasticine and create. You should have seen the results! Rev Caroline Taylor. Forthill Road, Broughty Ferry.


How do you pronounce Quinoa? Watch these Dundee shoppers struggle to say food names correctly

January 16 2016

Shoppers are having trouble pronouncing some of the names of the growing stock of international food and drink in UK stores, according to research. The Co-op has published a list of the biggest taste-bud tongue twisters, headed by tzatziki, bouillabaise, ceviche, Parmigiano Reggiano and edamame. Over half of 2,000 adults surveyed admitted they mis-pronounced prosciutto, Rioja and the superfood quinoa. The Co-op is launching a pronunciation training guide to its stores' staff and information shelf tickets to help customers. Dr Catherine Sangster, head of pronunciation at the Oxford English Dictionary, said: "These pronunciations can be unexpected or controversial. Some speakers will want to say the name in a completely authentic manner, matching the original language, and other speakers will be influenced by the spelling or prefer to anglicise the sounds."