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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...

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

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

Montrose murder trial: Michelle Higgins denies hammer attack

December 20 2016

Murder accused Michelle Higgins told a policeman she attacked a woman with a hammer, a jury has heard. The 29-year-old who is on trial for the murder of Montrose woman Kimberley MacKenzie said she could not remember making the comment during a cigarette break at Dundee police station. Higgins and co-accused Steven Jackson, 40, deny murdering and dismembering Miss MacKenzie at Jackson's flat in Market Street, Montrose. The pair are further accused of disposing of her body parts in bins and bags around the town. On Monday, Higgins was questioned about her account of Miss MacKenzie's death. She told Glasgow High Court on Friday that Jackson had attacked her with a hammer, before repeatedly stabbing her with a skean dhu dagger. She accepted that she "didn't raise a finger" to help Miss MacKenzie and that she helped dispose of her body but she insisted she did nothing to harm her or dismember her. Donald Findlay QC, representing Jackson, asked Higgins if she remembered talking to Detective Constable Ian Ross at Dundee police station's custody suite. Mr Findlay said DC Ross, 56, made a statement, claiming that Higgins had told him: "I hit her on the legs." When he asked what she hit her with, Higgins replied: "With a hammer." However, Higgins told the court she had "no memory at all" of the exchange. She said she was in a "drugs induced psychosis" at the time. Higgins, who was diagnosed with a bipolar condition, said she was a "completely different person" at the time of Miss MacKenzie's death. She told the court that she had had a "large" heroin habit which cost her up to £80 a day. Mr Findlay accused her of giving jurors a "presentation" of evidence. "It was a performance, wasn't it?" he asked. Higgins replied: "A performance in a court room? Hardly." The court heard that Higgins and Jackson went out into Montrose town centre, hand in hand, while Miss MacKenzie's body lay in Jackson's living room. Higgins was also accused of showing no emotion as she told how her friend was killed. "When your mother gave evidence and looked at a photo of her granddaughter's rucksack, knowing it had been used by her daughter to hide body parts, she was distraught," said Mr Findlay. "You didn't show one hint of emotion when you gave your evidence," he told Higgins. She said: "Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a violent person. I've done plenty of bad things, but I wouldn't murder someone." Asked by advocate depute Ashley Edwards QC why she appeared to go out "shopping" with Jackson after Miss MacKenzie's murder, Higgins said: "I was just being like an obedient puppy and just doing as Steven wanted. It's stupid, I know." Higgins was quizzed about a text message exchange with Jackson on October 28, the day after Miss MacKenzie died. Jackson wrote: "I need help got some bits chopped offxx". Higgins replied: "Mink LOL". "LOL? This was someone who was meant to be your friend," said Ms Edwards. "Does this give an insight into you thinking at the time?" Higgins said: "I don't know, I was just going along with him." The trial continues.


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.

Readers' letters

April 8: Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers

April 8 2011

This morning's letters look at the River Tay beavers and wildlife management, taxation, fuel prices, and road safety in Fife. Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers Sir,-I read with interest your article 'Call for halt to beaver damage' (April 6) regarding the acceleration of beaver damage on the lower River Earn, reported to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) by an angler. As with other wildlife, most notably deer, whether the felled trees are viewed as damage or not is only really the concern of the landowner involved. SNH maintain that it is legal for landowners to kill or remove beavers if they deem it necessary so, officially, there is no problem here. If the landowner thinks he has a problem, SNH say he can do something about it. Others will dispute this and the legal position does require to be clarified. This is why the River Tay beavers are important. They will force us to address these issues much sooner than the official Scottish Government reintroduction of beavers into Argyll and everyone will benefit from that, whatever their views on beavers might be. There is little point in calling for a halt to the beaver damage as the Tay beavers do not read The Courier. What we need is a pragmatic approach from government to this issue which allows us to learn how these animals will interact with other land uses and provides landowners with a workable mechanism for dealing with problem situations. Ultimately, all our wildlife should be managed locally according to local circumstances and sensitivities, not by a centralised quango in Inverness. Scottish Natural Heritage are all over the place on this issue and do not have the answers. We will have to look elsewhere for those. Victor Clements.1 Crieff Road,Aberfeldy. Victorian species cull Sir,-I agree in part with Eric McVicar's letter (April 5) about culling non-indigenous species but he shows a severe lack of knowledge in some areas. For example, beavers are a native species, as are bears and wolves. The absence of these animals is solely down to Victorian bloodlust, which saw the eradication of a vast number of species worldwide simply to amuse bored aristocrats. This has left us with a red deer population held on estates causing genetic diversity issues and out of control numbers, due to the lack of natural predators. I believe he is referring to Japanese knotweed, not Japanese hogweed. If Mr McVicar is a teacher then I fear for his pupils as he seems to be giving out wrong information and failing to teach them to check their facts. (Mr) J. Phillip.3 Lyninghills,Forfar. March of indirect taxation Sir,-Your editorial (April 5) and related article on the launch of the Scottish Conservative election manifesto for Holyrood misses an important fact. The fees or graduate contribution to the sum of £4000 is for every year of study. Parents and students can do the maths. Common sense it may be for Conservatives but, for those affected, it will feel very much like indirect taxation much favoured, as many of your readers will recall, by the Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s. Iain Anderson.41 West End,St Monans. Motorists need fuel transparency Sir,-We were conned in the Budget last month. The petrol companies had predicted the one penny reduction and had already upped the price by three or four pence. So is it now possible for the UK Government to do two specific things to regain some credibility? First tell the fuel retailers to instantly removed the ridiculous 0.99 they tag on at the end of their main price and, second, make it a rule to give the displayed price per gallon and not per litre. After all, cars in particular are sold with predicted miles per gallon consumption (admittedly often optimistic) not miles per litre. And if motorists were to see immediately the true cost of fuel for their car, instead of ridiculously having to multiply the litre price by 4.546 to find out, they would most certainly be more cautious with their travels and work a lot harder at reducing petrol/diesel consumption. Having been conned a few weeks ago, vehicle owners are surely entitled to some honesty now. Ian Wheeler.Springfield,Cupar. Wind farm risk to road users Sir,-I feel compelled to reply to your article regarding Fife's fatal road crashes. With 10 out of 13 fatal crashes in 2010 happening on rural roads, the most common contributory factor given in your article was failure to observe the road properly. My concerns are related to the plans submitted to Fife Council for the giant wind turbines on Clatto Hill. The road that runs adjacent to the proposed site is the C30. This rural road demands your full attention and concentration while driving in either direction. With the road being narrow, it requires even medium-sized cars to slow down or pull in when passing. The road has several vertical crests and sharp vertical curvatures which would make the turbines appear suddenly then disappear just as quickly. As this road has seen many accidents over a number of years, this would surely add another driving distraction to an already dangerous road. Norman Moodie.Craigview,Clatto Farm,Cupar. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.

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


Angry spat over future of Fife base RAF Leuchars

April 11 2011

A furious war of words has broken out in North East Fife, after Liberal Democrat candidate Iain Smith was accused of "blatant double standards." His SNP rival Rod Campbell hit out as the emotive issue of RAF Leuchars' future began to dominate the local campaign trail. Mr Campbell insisted the Lib Dem candidate had been "less than straight" with voters in a new campaign leaflet. "The latest Lib Dem leaflet tries to take credit for changes in taxation by reminding voters that the UK Government is a Tory/Lib Dem coalition," Mr Campbell said. "The changes in question were introduced by George Osborne in his recent Budget and Iain Smith seems happy in this case to be associated with the Conservatives in London. "However, right next to the article on taxation is one about the threat to RAF Leuchars. It posts Mr Smith as champion of the campaign to save the airbase. "Nowhere does this article recognise that it is the Lib Dem/Tory coalition that threatens Scottish defence facilities, not least RAF Leuchars. "When Iain Smith likes the actions of the London coalition, he claims credit for his party. "When it comes to RAF Leuchars, he pretends that he has nothing to do with Nick Clegg and the actions of the London government. However, Mr Smith was happy to laugh off the SNP missive. "This is typically laughable bluster from the SNP," he said. "Yes, thanks to the Liberal Democrats thousands of Fifers will pay no tax from this month and around 180,000 will have a tax cut and, yes, Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Ialong with members of the local community and the RAF Leuchars task forceare campaigning vigorously to save the base. "I am a campaigner for my community and RAF Leuchars is vital to our social fabric, local economy and defence of the UK. "The MoD have repeatedly said that no decisions have been made on the future of RAF bases, but that does not stop us from making the case for its retention. "Sadly, the SNP candidate has yet again undermined the efforts of those fighting hard to save the base."


2018 Burgess Short Story Competition — read all the winning entries

March 22 2018

The winner of the fifth Dundee Burgess charity short story competition is St John’s RC High School pupil Lewis Neilson. Third-year pupil Lewis was picked unanimously by judges for his short story Gold Digger. Shortlisted competition entrants attended a special prizegiving ceremony in the City Chambers, hosted by the Lord Provost Ian Borthwick. Participants from all of the schools in the city boundaries were eligible to take part and had to write a short piece of prose, 650-800 words in length focused on a particular theme. This year the competition entries had to involve a character born into a close-knit family living in abject poverty. As part of the plot, a part of the family suddenly comes into a fortune, with the youngsters then having to explore how the fortune was acquired and whether the dynamic within the family changed. Competition judge Catriona MacInnes, acting editor of The Courier, said Lewis and his fellow contestants produced stories of a very high quality. She said: “This year’s competition was of an exceptional standard. The pupils really got to grips with the storyline and they are all to be congratulated. “It was so tight that my fellow judges and I had a tough time deciding the order of the top three – there was a great deal of debate and discussion, but in the end it was a unanimous decision. “The winning entry stood out because it really painted a vivid picture and the ending was perfect. Lewis should be really proud.” Lewis and runners-up Emily Crawford and Lucy Johnston will all enjoy a tour of The Courier offices at Meadowside, as well as having their stories published on our website (see below). Mr Borthwick, who handed over the prizes at Wednesday’s celebration, said the city should be proud to have so many talented youngsters. He said: “Congratulations to all the winners who have done such an impressive job. “Some of the stories were quite moving and you could tell they had all put a tremendous amount of effort into their work. “Thanks are due of course to their parents, carers and teachers who have supported them in their endeavours. “Each story was written to a very impressive standard and it was good to see they had such a good grasp of language and history.” The Burgess charity was established in 2011 by former Lord Provost John Letford and a number of business people from across the city.   The winning essays   First place — Gold Digger, by Lewis Neilson (St John’s RC High School) The bitter breeze whistled and hissed as it crept through the derelict cracks in our wall, awakening my two brothers and me from our uneasy slumber. Every morning was the same, battling against the sheer coldness. Helpless. Left to curl up next to each other under our rough jackets as the wind jabbed away at our numb skin like a thousand needles at once. Yet, although money was certainly an issue for us, it seemed to bring us closer together as a family. We’d spend our evenings together, cosying up around our only source of light, a dim candle. Nothing could separate us; at least that’s what I thought… I remember it perfectly… every detail, the turning point in my life. We were congregated on the damp floor, telling our stories of the day’s harsh struggles, unable to feel much of our bodies as we nibbled on the remaining rations of bread. My mother and I spoke of our day at the local jute mill, Verdant Works. Each day was the same for us: a prolonged depressing walk to the factory, the towering chimneys towering high above the surrounding buildings as thick black smoke coughed from them, choking the air. Inside, everything seemed so vast. The machines groaned and whined from years of use; nothing ever fell still. Each day we tackled the deafening cacophony that shattered our ears and the thick dust which clogged our airways. Our coughing became relentless. I was a small, scrawny child, perfect for crawling under the working machines to recover any bits of jute which had fallen through. Sweat would pore like rivers down my forehead as I’d anxiously try to keep all my limbs attached to my body and all for a ‘generous’ few shillings a week. My father and two brothers didn’t have it any easier. They slaved away at the grimy coalmines over the Tay in Fife. They would work ridiculous hours in ridiculous conditions under ridiculous circumstances, all for a very ridiculous pay. Nevertheless, my father would never complain. He was a caring, considerate and commendable man always putting others first no matter what. His smile was infectious. He was our hero, a role model whom we were so very proud of, bringing light to our faces on the darkest of days and his inviting, gentle voice always warmed up the room in the coldest of hours. He deserved so much more than this. He told us about the claustrophobic tunnels he’d be trapped in for eight hours at a time and we listened in awe. He’d emerge from the hell hole unrecognisable, covered from top to toe in thick black soot and although seeing him stumble through the door from work brought me relief, I could never contain a chuckle. Just when we all seemed to be dozing off and the light was slowly dying as the candle flickered vulnerably from the passing breeze, I could tell my father had news. His face was beaming and masked with excitement when he finally told us, “Th'day wis different, ah fun something doon th' coal mines, tis worth a lot 'n' wull dae this fowk a hail load o' guid.” Our eyes widened and we all eagerly leaned forward in anticipation as good news was certainly not a common occurrence in our household. He reached for his ripped jacket and revealed a handkerchief. Resting it in the palm of his hand, he delicately unfolded it, corner by corner revealing the contents inside. I couldn’t make out what I was faced with, but my brother broke the silence, stuttering as he spoke, “Na wey is that whit ah thinks it is?” “Tis gold, real gold, we're aff tae be th' richest fowk in Dundee,” my father replied frantically. We all slept like babies that night knowing it could quite possibly be the last night in this derelict, dehumanising space. We woke like we always did, although the bitter breeze seemed to be gentler on us this morning and the wind’s needles seemed to be nonexistent. The three of us bolted into the room where mother and father had slept, expecting to join an enthusiastic conversation of what we planned to do with our newly found fortune. We were stopped in our tracks. Instead, we were faced with mother helplessly bawling her eyes out as she held a letter in her withered, shaking hands. The letter read: “I’m sorry bit i’ve gaen, gaen wi' th' fortuin in search fur a freish oncom, a freish life… tis whit ah wantit”. All of a sudden, the needles were back, worse than ever. My heart sunk. Crushed, I faced reality. Bitter betrayal.  My beloved father had broken us; left us stranded and hung us out to dry. I learned a very important lesson that day, “All that glitters is not gold…..”   Second place — Cardboard Tables, by Emily Mary Crawford (Grove Academy) Joshua lay wide-awake with his baby brother beside him. His stomach was rumbling like thunder. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten a hot meal. He lay staring at the bare, depressing room that surrounded them with its single stained-mattress, an upside down cardboard box they used as a table, and a bin bag overflowing with rusty pots and torn clothing. The wallpaper was peeling off, mouldy spots dotted the ceiling, and the carpet was too revolting for bare feet. Joshua turned onto his side. When his foot exited the cocoon of warmth beneath the patched-up blanket, it made contact with the unrelenting cold. His foot jerked sideways. For a minute he panicked and spun around to check behind him. Thankfully George was still in a deep sleep. He let out a sigh of relief. His mother hadn’t paid the gas bills yet. He hadn’t seen her in days. This was unfortunately a common occurrence. Suddenly, the noise of the front door lock caused Joshua to bolt upright. George was still sleeping soundly. He could sleep through Armageddon, he thought to himself. He turned his attention to the bedroom door creaking open, only to be greeted by the sight of his mother carrying a white polybag. The strong scent of fish and chips wafted around the room. Does she have a chipper? His stomach roared at the thought. 'Joshua,' his mother whispered cheerily, ‘Wake George. I've got food.' This was odd. They couldn’t afford takeaways. Joshua was about to ask her how, when the growling of his stomach interrupted him. It would be better to eat first, then ask questions later. The three of them sat crouched over the cardboard box with the polystyrene container ceremoniously placed in the centre. Joshua was salivating at the sensational smell of malt vinegar fish and chips. ‘Mum, how’d you ge-’ ‘Joshua,’ his mother interrupted in a threatening tone. He stopped talking, not asking her again.  Despite the awkward atmosphere, and eating in silence, the taste was breath taking. The secrecy of this new supply of money continued for weeks. In that time, they were given new clothes, regular meals, new furniture and a television even appeared! But the question still lingered. Where was the money coming from? One night after dinner, George had been sent to bed early, his mother wanted to speak with him. ‘We’re moving to the ferry.’ ‘What, how?!’ ‘Shh, you’ll wake George.’ ‘Are you borrowing money again?!” Joshua asked, indignantly. “Joshua!” his mother gasped. She was embarrassed, she hated it when he mentioned loans. But he wanted answers. The arguing continued for several more minutes until she blurted, ‘Fine!’ she snapped, ‘It's from your father.’ Joshua paused. His mother never talked their father who hadn’t visited them in years. They had almost forgotten about him. His mother noticed his hesitation, and her scowl softened, ‘Your father passed away a couple of weeks ago. He left his money to us, along with a small company he owned. But there’s one condition: that you two must go to boarding school.’ It wasn’t what he’d expected. The inheritance was one thing but he had to go to a boarding school. Eventually, George would have to go too. Their mother would be alone. He was at a loss of words. He nodded and went to bed, struggling to absorb all this information. Joshua lay wide-awake staring at the now-cosy room that surrounded him. The cardboard box was gone, replaced with a birchwood table. Cupboards filled with clothes and toys lined the walls, and instead of one shared mattress, bunk beds took its place. He couldn’t picture going to boarding school. He couldn't picture being separated from his mother or George. But eventually, he would have to go. How could he refuse this condition? If he didn’t follow the will word for word, they would lose everything. If he stayed, the will would be null and void. He would never allow that to happen. He would go. With his decision made, he surrendered to a restless sleep. Three months passed and Joshua was about to board a flight for boarding school in London. Nervously, he approached security. His knees turned to mush, and his hands were clammy. He felt extremely anxious. He wouldn’t fit in; he accepted that. What worried him was George. When he looked back at George, he looked so small and appeared as if he was about to burst into tears. Joshua felt a jab at his chest. He wanted to run back and tell him that he’d stay there with him. But instead, he waved goodbye to them both and proceeded through security.     Third place — A Catastrophic Fortune, by Lucy Johnston (St Paul’s Academy) The wind was bitter and crisp. Each surface, more glacial than the last. The rain, battering against the roof, producing a sound that can only be described as the rolling, rumble of waves against the sea shore. The air forced it’s way through the cracks in the windows, through the slit in the base of the door, surrounding each room with a blanket of wintery frost. The wooden floorboards were damp from a leak in the ceiling and the stench had made it’s way into every single piece of furniture they owned. The accommodation had a sombre feel; the presence of nothingness would even unease the dangerous beings of the dark. A snarl radiated from a dingy corner, reverberating throughout the house. A mess of a man emerged from a heap of torn rags (of which he called ‘a bed’) on the splintering boards. “Shut up Bert, you old mutt!” The mongrel stared at it’s owner. “It’s only rain!” A feeble figure of a twenty-four-year-old looked at the beast. His hair, dishevelled and dense, blanketed his head and his once-fitting clothes now baggier than the eyes of an insomniac. His bones as visible as a solitary lantern in a dark forest. He shuffled towards a cracked window pane, behind his so-called bed, and peered out to the almost deserted street, to see the horse and cart of the rag and bone man, then he noticed his brother, Samuel, delivering newspapers. Samuel was a young, healthy teen, small for his age, but with a heart too big for his chest. He had always been the tidiest of his brothers, caring about his looks more than his physical health. The spectator shakily lifted a bottle of cheap gin to his pale, cracked lips. The door swung open. “Edward! Are you drinking again!?” Samuel bellowed. “Why would it matter to you?” Edward grunted. Samuel looked down in disappointment. “Is there any money for dinner?” “No, we used it to sole your shoes, remember?” Edward replied. “But we had some left...” “And I was tired of being sober.” Samuel stormed out in disbelief, slamming the door so forcefully that the entire house shook. Edward sighed, “More for me, I guess.” He took another swig of the alcoholic beverage. Edward had always admired his brother, Samuel, so hardworking, so determined, so caring but sometimes his temper would get the best of him. Victor, on the other hand, had always been led by his aspirations: singing in the local church choir. Victor would regularly participate in singing competitions. In fact, he was doing one right now, in which the grand prize was a bursary placement in London Royal National Theatre. Edward gulped down another mouthful of the burning liquid. After their father, William, died of the drink, their mother, Margaret, took her own life, unable to bear the agonising grief. Although Samuel and Victor were coping as best as they could, Edward was suffering from low mood and his nerves. He too had now taken to the drink. Edward looked at the calendar,  ’28 December 1879.’ He had almost forgotten that Christmas had been three days ago, not that he would have celebrated anyway. He took another shot of gin. Edward remembered the last time he felt any sort of happiness. He took a train across the Tay Bridge to Fife, with his brothers, to have a nice family day out. It was a lovely summer’s afternoon, if he tried hard enough he could almost feel that gentle sun on his face. They visited Balmerino and the Abbey ruins. But, since then, everything had gone downhill. He had just stopped caring about life and started to wish death upon himself. Edward looked at the almost empty bottle of gin. He laughed, as he had even impressed himself by the amount of alcohol he had consumed. Edward crawled over to his ‘bed’, covering himself in the rags, he heard a familiar monotone voice. “You’ve disappointed me, Edward. You’ve disappointed your entire family. Just given up, already!” “Dad! You’re not real!” Edward screamed, as he realised he was hallucinating. Edward opened one last bottle of the intoxicating solvent, and downed it entirely. He stared at the clock, which read ‘7:15pm.’ He closed his eyes, as his life slowly began to ebb away. ****** Samuel burst through the door, almost snapping the hinges “THE TAY BRIDGE COLLA…” Samuel stared at Edward’s inanimate body. “Edward…? Edward…EDWARD!” Samuel was standing over Edward’s body, deprived of all life. His skin was blue and colder than ice. His eyes, no longer a window to the soul, but rather a window to nothingness. This was the only time that Edward had seemed so…’alive.’ Bert lay still in the corner, unaware of all the events that had just unfolded. Victor barged through the doorway. “I’VE WON!” Click here for more on the Burgess Short Story Competition

Dundee FC

Dundee 0 Partick Thistle 1: Shine comes off Dark Blues as they slide out of top six

March 1 2017

The fabulous form that saw them beat Rangers and Motherwell deserted Dundee at Dens as they slipped out of the top six. It was their opponents, a well-organised and energetic Partick Thistle side, that took their place in the Premiership's upper half. This was a meeting of two of the division's in-form sides but it was Alan Archibald's men who kept the momentum going after their successive victories over St Johnstone, Hamilton and Hearts. Dundee's last home defeat in the league had been at the hands of Thistle back on October 26 and the Jags repeated the feat thanks to an own goal from Dark Blues defender Julen Etxabeguren on 29 minutes. The hosts never recovered from that setback and even six minutes of stoppage time - allocated due to a serious-looking injury to Etxabeguren - didn't help them and some supporters vented their frustration at full-time. It wasn’t exactly a shock that the Dens men had gone with the same starting line-up for the third match in a row. It was a significant show of faith in his men by manager Paul Hartley but an understandable one given those performances against the Light Blues and Steelmen. The Jags made only one change, with Christie Elliott coming in for Mustapha Dumbuya. The match was slow in catching fire and the first serious attack was from Thistle on 12 minutes, when Callum Booth’s cutback was fired at goal by Chris Erskine but comfortably saved by keeper Scott Bain. Dundee were almost gifted a chance on 15 minutes when Partick goalie Tomas Cerny, the victim of a hospital pass from Booth, blasted his attempted clearance off Marcus Haber but the loose ball ricocheted to safety. Just a minute later, the lively Ryan Edwards steered a shot wide of the Dundee goal. The game was warming up nicely now and Jags defender Liam Lindsay gave his own side a scare when he sliced Craig Wighton’s cross over his own crossbar. Dundee were pressing and Kevin Holt watched his cross from the left flank clip the Partick post on 21 minutes before Henrik Ojamaa raced towards the Thistle box but shot weakly wide. A couple of minutes later it was the Maryhill men who were on the front foot, with Kris Doolan firing just wide after being played in by Erskine. On 29 minutes, Thistle edged ahead thanks to an own goal by Etxabeguren. Doolan and home skipper Darren O’Dea raced for the ball inside the Dundee box and the big defender fell to the floor looking as if he had been shoved. With no whistle sounding, Doolan kept going and cut the ball back at the near post trying to find Edwards. It struck the unfortunate Spaniard before it reached the Jags player, though, and deflected into the net. It was a sore one for the home team but, to be honest, the Jags probably deserved it for their more enterprising play. There was an injury scare for both teams five minutes before the break when O’Dea and Edwards suffered head knocks after challenging for a cross but they both played on after treatment. The Dark Blues came out for the second half looking to shake off their lethargy and, on 52 minutes, a strike from the edge of the box by James Vincent stung the hands of Thistle keeper Cerny. Ojamaa and Haber both had goes at the Thistle goal but Bain had to come to Dundee's rescue at the other end on the hour when he scooped up the ball after Elliott's cross from the right had struck Cammy Kerr and headed goalwards. The home fans were getting restless now and, as if in recognition of that, Dundee made a change on 65 minutes by bringing on Faissal El Bakhtaoui for Ojamaa. There was real concern for the home team a couple of minutes later when Etxabeguren fell to the floor with what looked like a bad injury. As a hush went around the stadium as the medical staff raced onto the park. He was carried off on a stretcher and replaced by Kosta Gadzhalov, while Danny Williams also came on for Wighton. Former Dundee United man Erskine, who had run hismelf into the ground for the Jags, was then replaced by Steven Lawless on 77 minutes. Thistle kept going forward and they had the ball in the Dundee net a couple of minutes later, only for "scorer" Doolan to be flagged offside as he converted Osman's cross. Up at the other end, a period of home pressure ended with O'Dea heading just past the back post from close range following Paul McGowan's cross. The Dark Blues pushed hard in stoppage time but the Jags held on to leapfrog their hosts into that much-desired sixth spot. Attendance: 5,328. Dundee: Bain, Holt, Vincent, O’Dea, O’Hara, Etxabeguren (Gadzhalov 69), McGowan, Haber, Ojamaa (El Bakhtaoui 65), Kerr, Wighton (Williams 69). Subs not used: Gourlay, Hateley, Ross, Gomis. Partick Thistle: Cerny, Booth, Lindsay, Osman, Doolan (Azeez 86), Erskine (Lawless 77), Barton, Elliott, Devine, Keown, Edwards. Subs not used: Ridgers, Amoo, Nisbet, McCarthy. Referee: John Beaton.