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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

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

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.

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

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

7 delightful ways people are coming together to help the homeless at Christmas

December 21 2017

People across the UK are using time-off over Christmas to help homeless people also enjoy the festivities. From opening gyms and theatres, to giving people a place to stay and offering those without a home somewhere to enjoy a meal for free, the Christmas spirit is well and truly on show all over the country. Here’s a selection of how people are coming together to make December 25 a day for everyone to remember. 1. Network Rail is opening London Euston to 200 homeless people for Christmas dinner To help spread Christmas cheer, we will be providng hot meals to 200 invited homeless guests on Xmas day with volunteers from @networkrail , @StMungos & @Streetkitchen https://t.co/RLvwqg8ITg pic.twitter.com/z2iHrB99lc— London Euston (@NetworkRailEUS) December 13, 2017 The concourse of Euston Station will be transformed with decorations and tables set out for 200 homeless guests to enjoy dinner. The invited diners will arrive from 11am on Christmas Day. The event is a partnership between Network Rail and the St Mungo’s and Street Kitchen charities. 2. A church in Sunderland is opening its doors for a Christmas lunch All welcome this Christmas Day in #Sunderland… pic.twitter.com/9PZDPGJLfo— Sts Mary's & Cecilia (@St_MarysRC) December 12, 2017Don’t be alone on Christmas Day. All welcome in #Sunderland. pic.twitter.com/NTOQ1MSNWe— Fr. Marc Lyden-Smith (@frlydensmith) November 28, 2017 St Mary’s has been backed by fundraising efforts across the city, including at Sunderland AFC, where supporters were encouraged to “bring a tin” to a recent match. The items have been donated to St Mary’s and other homeless support charities. The lunch is being served from midday until 1.30pm. 3. A burger van in Liverpool has been feeding homeless people for free all month Steak House food van in Liverpool has been offering hot food to homeless people for free between 10am and 11am this December. It will open on Christmas day too, reported the Liverpool Echo. Local traders have backed the van, owned and run by Tommy Ager, by bringing fresh fruit and other items to add to the hot food he has served. 4. Caribbean eatery Cummin Up offers free lunch on Christmas Day Please spead the wprd..freemeal to all 02086909167..389 Lewisham High street SE13 6NZ pic.twitter.com/5dDtDHxDbw— #cumminup, #carib (@cumminupcaribbe) December 18, 2017 The Lewisham restaurant shared its plans for a free Christmas meal on Twitter, creating a buzz about the restaurant. It is not just for people who are homeless. A banner outside the restaurant reads: “Open Christmas Day. All welcome to our Christmas meal. Money too tight, or lonely?” It is serving from 1pm to 7pm. 5. A theatre opens its doors to offer homeless people a place to stay (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.11'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));DONT YOU JUST HATE WALKING PAST THESE POOR HOMELESS PEOPLE IN PLYMOUTH, WOULDN'T YOU LIKE TO HELP , WELL NOW YOU CAN…Posted by Help the homeless in Plymouth on Friday, December 15, 2017 In Plymouth, the owner of the Palace Theatre is opening the doors of the venue to homeless people, allowing them to sleep in the foyer. The efforts have been led by a Facebook group called “Help the homeless in Plymouth” where locals have offered everything from Christmas decorations to make the theatre’s foyer more festive to practical items like coats, shoes, blankets and jumpers to keep homeless people warm at winter. 6. Fish and chips are available for free (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.11'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));Posted by Westlode Fisheries on Friday, December 15, 2017 Westlode Fisheries in Spalding, Lincolnshire, is also opening on Christmas Day. It is offering a free hot meal for the “homeless, elderly or people who are struggling this Christmas” when it opens between 1pm and 3pm. In addition, on Christmas Eve, 10% of takings will be going to charity. 7. A gym is offering shelter, food and haircuts (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.11'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));***IMPORTANT. PLEASE READ, SHARE AND SPREAD THE WORD***Christmas Time is a special day for many. A lot of our closest…Posted by Muscle Factory Burnley on Friday, December 8, 2017 In Burnley, businesses have come together in a scheme spearheaded by Muscle Factory gym. It will open between 1pm and 3pm on Christmas Day so that “no one should feel alone on Christmas Day”. As well as food from Oasis Grillaz, Blades Professional Barbers and Second Impressions Barbers will be offering free haircuts and shaves. In a Facebook post, the gym added: “We can’t take away everyone’s troubles but we can try make life a little bit easier, lift morale, fill some bellies and hopefully have them leave with a smile.” (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Nicola Irwin, Press Association'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '21115cb7-2322-4533-b845-7e523c98e379'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:viral,paservice:viral:news'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story-enriched'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': '7 delightful ways people are coming together to help the homeless at Christmas'});

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show – now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) – a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.


PREVIEW: Simple Minds, at the Caird Hall, Dundee

May 17 2017

Simple Minds live on stage, anywhere in the world, is a phenomenal experience. The sheer power of their songs, the chest-thumping bass, ice-shard guitar licks and Jim Kerr’s unique voice can brighten any venue. Tonight (May 17) they’ll be doing just that as the band comes to the Caird Hall to open their latest tour – but it’s one that will be just that little bit different for all their Scottish and UK fans. There’s a clue in the title of their album Simple Minds Acoustic, which was released in November. To celebrate, the special six-piece live line-up of Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Dundonian Ged Grimes, backing vocalist Sarah Brown, acoustic guitarist Gordy Goudie and percussionist Cherisse Osei, will be performing a career-spanning collection of songs acoustically for the very first time. In an exclusive interview with The Courier, Ged explained the reasoning behind the acoustic shows. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); AS IT WAS IN FLORENCE – IT WILL BE IN DUNDEEYvonne Bird posts.." One thing is noticeable. There is just great sound… Posted by Simple Minds Official on Tuesday, 16 May 2017 “We were asked to play an acoustic show in Switzerland last year and the success of the show led to the idea of recording some of the classic Simple Minds songs in an acoustic style,” he says. “I think the secret to any band’s longevity is to always be open to change and reinvention. The acoustic album and tour are a perfect example of this. Simple Minds will celebrate 40 years of making music this year and this acoustic show is likely to highlight a side to the band’s sound that fans may not have heard before. © GettyGed Grimes playing with Simple Minds. “We are well known for a huge sound but in the acoustic form we have created more space in the arrangements and a focus on the song lyrics. It allows the audience to emotionally connect with the band in a different way,” adds Ged. Always a champion for Dundee wherever he is in the world Ged is immensely proud to be able to come back to the city to kick off the UK leg of the tour. “We’re doing almost 50 shows and have already played Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal and France so it will be very special for me to have the first UK show as Dundee,” he said. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Nick Heys‎ posts on Simple Minds Official Wife and I are ready for Dundee tonight 😀 Posted by Simple Minds Official on Wednesday, 17 May 2017 “The changes and development within the city since we last played in 2013 have been significant, so I’m really looking forward to the band witnessing first hand the city’s transformation.” Ged’s involvement with the band began in 2008 when he was a member of Deacon Blue, who opened for Simple Minds that year. This rekindled a friendship with Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill which dated back to the 80s. After a time spent working with Jim on a solo project Lostboy, he was then asked to join the band full time. Simple Minds Acoustic continues the band’s artistic quest with a one-off album release of stripped down and re-imagined songs, spanning their eclectic and illustrious career. Their usual “big sound” may be temporarily reduced but the overall experience won’t be diminished in any way, the band promise. A dozen Simple Minds songs loved by millions now sound more organic and even more likely to leave a lasting imprint. The synths are no more – but the Celtic soul remains. Jim Kerr says: “The concert stage is where Simple Minds do their best work – it is where we forged our distinctive live reputation. For that reason we look forward immensely to taking Simple Minds Acoustic out on tour. Don’t be fooled by the acoustic tag, however as these shows will be as energetic and passionate as ever.” With a great live line-up and a set list full of iconic Minds songs, it is bound to be a unique and memorable experience. Simple Minds will be joined by special guest The Anchoress.

UK & World

PM’s former Oxford college launches inquiry into sexual harassment claims

April 12 2018

An independent inquiry is being launched into allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment at the Prime Minister’s former Oxford college.St Hugh’s has confirmed that its governing body commissioned the investigation following claims about the behaviour of a now-deceased Fellow.It is understood the Fellow is Professor David Robertson, who died in August last year.The inquiry was set up after author Mel McGrath wrote an article on the website The Pool, accusing Professor Robertson of “doing a Weinstein on me” – a reference to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein – when she was an undergraduate in the 1980s.The inquiry will be chaired by Alison Levitt QC, who carried out a review into the crimes of the late Jimmy Savile and who has been tipped to become the new director of public prosecutions.Ms McGrath wrote: “David, who was my tutor, held tutorials in his flat on college grounds and had an uncanny knack for scheduling a shower, at whatever time of day, just before I arrived.“He’d open the door – as if innocently – dressed in his bathrobe and, one time, in a tiny towel.“For the next hour I would have to undergo the humiliating experience of reading my essay, on which I had laboured hard and with serious intent, while David sat opposite, half-naked and man spreading, often smelling of alcohol and sipping from a mug of what was never tea or coffee.”Ms McGrath was also critical of St Hugh’s, saying that if the authorities at the time had not heard the rumours about Prof Robertson’s alleged behaviour “they couldn’t have been listening very hard”.The college confirmed that an investigation had been launched and released its terms of reference, but a spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment until the investigation was complete.The terms of reference given to Ms Levitt read: “The College has recently received allegations of historic misconduct and sexual harassment about a now deceased Fellow from two former students.“The College requests you to carry out an independent investigation about these allegations and whether the circumstances of these or of similar allegations were known to the members of governing body or management staff of the College.“If so, to report on the adequacy and appropriateness of the College’s responses and any action taken in respect of such allegations or circumstances, with any recommendations for action.”St Hugh’s was founded in 1886 “to open up the opportunities of an Oxford education to poorer women”. It accepted its first male students in 1987.Former students include the Prime Minister Theresa May, Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi, Amal Clooney and suffragette Emily Davison.


Grove Academy pupil Amy MacLeod is third winner of Burgess Short Story Competition

March 12 2016

Dundee’s next generation of writing talent was honoured at Dundee City Chambers. Grove Academy pupil Amy MacLeod, 15, won the third annual Burgess Short Story Competition for her story Solemn Silence with a Stranger. The competition is open to third year pupils across Dundee and this year’s event received 63 entries. Pupils were asked to create a story with the theme “Ambition, Aspiration and Achievement, Dundee – A City to Discover”. Rose Porteous from Menzieshill High School came second, and Holly Dunbar from Craigie High School took third place. Elena Munoz from Menzieshill High School and Cara Kidd from Grove Academy were given honorary mentions. Each of the three prize winners were presented with a book token and a copy of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’sA Scots Quair by depute Lord Provost Christina Roberts. Amy said she was surprised to have won the competition. “I was just nervous about reading my story,” she said. “I really like writing and I’d like to do something to do with writing when I grow up.”The winning entriesFirst: Solemn Silence with a Stranger, by Amy MacLeod Dundee isn’t a well-known city. When you think of Dundee, you don’t think of spiralling skyscrapers reaching endlessly towards the sky, glinting in the sunlight. You don’t think of new opportunities, or second chances. You don’t think of “all the things you could do” in a brilliant place like Dundee. Because, quite frankly, and despite the protests of its council, Dundee is a simple place. It’s a simple town, with simple everyday people, and simple everyday shops. I’m not saying that being simple is a bad thing. In fact, it makes what I do all the more fun. All the more important. I’m an artist, you see. It may seem strange I know, and I understand why you would think it is. If anything, an artist should have a complex city as their muse, right? A city like New York or London, a place with never-ending back alleys, countless sceneries to gawk at and bright city lights to blot out the unimportance of people lying on the streets without a home, of people just getting by. I’m one of those people by the way. A person who wakes up every morning with the dull mind set of I’m just getting by I’m living, but I don’t feel alive. It can be very daunting sometimes, to have that thought constantly constantly at the back of your mind, interfering with day to day activities, reminding you that this was not how you planned to live your life, this was not your dream, this was not how things were supposed to be. It lets life pass by like a timeless blur, and eventually, you lose a sense of yourself, of those past ambitions you used to have. However, l am human after all, and humans survive by any means necessary. When things get tough, every individual person on the planet earth has their own method, their own way of coping with things And this is mine. Standing in solemn silence on a deserted pier in the middle of the night, with nothing but an old, abandoned ship creaking against the waves to keep me company. And the old man wearing a tweed jacket. But mainly the ship. I run a hand through my hair, brown and greasy, and allow myself to be curious about this stranger, with his old fashioned clothes, thinly framed spectacles and hair whiter than snow. We’ve been standing together in silence for well over half an hour, now. It would be futile to try and spark up a conversation. “A’richt” He speaks for the first time, startling me with a thick Scottish accent. “Whit’s eating awa’ at ye, lad?” I tuck my hands in my pockets. Never talk to strangers, I hear my mum’s voice echo in my mind, and maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t slept in three days, or the silence of the world at this hour that urges me to speak out, or the thrilling idea of taking risks for once in my life but I reply, and I reply honestly. “Nothing’s going right, sir.” I say with an exasperated sigh. The man chuckles. “A’ve bin thare, laddie. Ah ken tis nae easy.” He pauses. “Bit it gets better. It steals a while whiles, ‘n’ loads o’ solid wirk, bit it gets better.” I look up to see the man standing in front of me with an outstretched hand and a boyish grin on his face. “Th’ name’s Patrick. James Macintosh Patrick.” “James Cooper.” I reply, taking his hand and smiling slightly: we have the same name. “Och! ye jammy fellow. Ye git tae be cried efter th’ maist braw jimmy ah ken… Me!” He laughs heartily. I stuff my hand in my pockets again, turning to look at the ship. The Discovery was painted on the side in white letters. It’s a nice name. I glance at James, blinking in shock when I see how pale he is his skin is almost translucent. “Ah dinnae hae muckle time, laddie. Time isnae kind fur a soul lik’ me.” He says. “Bit ah dinnae git mony visitors, let alone at this time o’ nicht, sae a’m waantin’ tae hulp. A dinnae ken whit ye’r gaun thro’, ‘n’ ah ken it micht be solid, bit ah promise it’ll git better. Tis nae th’ maist helpful thing tae say, bit tis a guid thing tae keep thinking aboot. It’ll git better. Ye keep workin’ solid, ‘n’ ye’ll mak’ it.” I can’t stop the grin from slipping onto my face. It was nice to hear these words from someone; it was nice to hear that somebody believed in me. “Thank you, sir.” And I meant it, really. I’m not sure if I imagined it all. When I turned back, he was gone without a trace. But I thank him. Second: Ambition, Aspiration and Achievement. Dundee a City to Discover, by Rose Porteous I wake up. I rub a bar of olive oil, water, coconut oil, palm oil, sodium hydroxide and shea butter round me and drown my hair in shampoo. Then I suit up in work clothes. I sit down to some breakfast of toast and coffee and burn my mouth as I try to down the coffee when it is still lava. I am running late. I just make it to the site (with the time to watch Usain Bolt to spare), saying ‘good morning’ to people I see along the way; a guy on the corner smoking (why? It stinks.) with a name tag embroidery saying Mickey, a woman named Charlie and her dog (which was disposing of waste fluids at the time) and someone in a Boots uniform. I work as a construction plant operator on the renovation of Dundee’s Waterfront. I know, what a mouthful. My job is on the brand spankingly newly named Slessor Garden where I’m installing cables and pipes for utilities. Fun. I wake up. I wash then suit up. I plonk my but downwards to the same toast and coffee and set alight my mouth as I try to consume lava. I’m always rushing for everything. I just make it to the site in time, saying ‘good morning’ to the people I see along the way Mickey (still mitting fumes), Charlie and her dog (who I’ve noticed urinates a LOT) and the person in the Boots uniform. For 49386 years I put in the cables and pipes but, finally, it is finished and now I’m laying the trails the shoppers and walkers and workers will follow. My fellow rocketeer Fiona is working on the roads next to us and we exchange words sometimes when her roller rolls past. I wake up. I dispose of dirt and then put on my work designated body cloths. I sit down to toast and lava. I’m still one Usain from late. I make it to the launch pad, saying ‘good morning’ to the usual’s; Mickey the crane driver (again releasing gases), Charlie and The Colonel (peeing) and the guy in the Boots uniform. The trails are still ongoing but I am inserting overgrown broccoli around the area and you’ll never guess who christened (or fertilised) about seven of them (thou trees named Ed, Jeff, Bill, Ted, John, Phil and Zoe) as him and his mistress walked by. I wake up. I Scrub up. I dress up. Toast and lava finished, I speed to the site imparting a ‘good morning’ to the predictable; Mickey (what was he doing? Yes, you’re right) Charlie and The Colonel (christening/fertilising yet more broccoli) and the Boots uniform dude. On this day the salient nature carpet arrived in a convoy of council trucks. They were royally rolled out, what a splendid sight when we completed it. I had a scone and tea in my lunch break and my bus was late going home/ what a terribly British day. I wake up. I shower and then put on my suit. I sit down to Rice Krispies and orange juice and enjoy the lighting of day. I look at the time, time to go, and slip on my shoes then leave It is the opening day for the renewal of Dundee’s Waterfront. As I walk down Fiona’s road on the corner there is no crane but I smell smoke. I pass Ed, Jeff, Bill, Ted, John, Phil and Zoe and see they’re growing well. I feel weirdly patriotic as I stroll along the grass to the stunning V&A. Third: Knee Deep, by Holly Dunbar Stuck. She was stuck, entangled, ensnared. Trapped. The noise and dust clogging her senses, trapping her in her own mind. The aimless never-ending work dragging on and on through the day, even nights when necessary. Luckily for her employers, she was a women who ‘deserved’ very little pay, unfortunately for them, she was a women who refused to be treated this way. A pawn in the money making empire of Dundee, ruled by kings, queens, knights and bishops, dispensable and weak. If only the other women would stand with her, they outnumbered the men, they could rise up and take charge, be given more pay, better working conditions, anything. A woman wandered past her, shuffling through the Stour. Caught in a bubble even worse than some of the rest, deaf to the world. She wouldn’t stand for this! Men with their pompous arrogance and pride, as if they could be outsmarted and overcome by the brainless, clueless slaves that so cheaply worked to the grave. Her fingers were aching and she could no longer stand watching the horrors before her and the small bony hand reaching once again into the nearest machine to clean its inner workings, he’d already lost one finger. Flinging down her work she crept around the station to the back door. Her storming form travelled the road without her even thinking about it, the Tay glistened even with the heavy grey clouds from above, Fife lay across the water, dots of houses covered the green and squatted peacefully awaiting the return of their occupants. The small cottage near the river was silently beckoning her in with curling waves of smoke which sluggishly oozed from its crooked chimney. The door creaked familiarly and swung shut behind her as she approached the women swaddled in blankets in a chair by the fire which was reflected fiercely in a frail old face. ‘I have no pity for those who wallow in their own.’ Her tone was sharp and like a cold slap in the face, Grandma was not a patient women and had standards to uphold, even in her Granddaughter. ‘Penelope, you should be at work, I didn’t lose a hand just for you to slack when it was your turn!’ Her face softened, she patted her leg and Penny curled up at her Grandma’s feet and placed her head in her lap. Grandma was the only one who understood her silent communications, always had. Penny’s own Mother had barely managed before she died. She was a mute, a freak, but that didn’t stop her trying to prove herself. She knew her job had been given out of pity and knew there wasn’t much she could do to help the cause she cared for, at least not with words. Her anger drained as she realised with devastating clarity, she was powerless to do anything. ‘Don’t lose hope Penny-wren, you’ll get your chance, all women will. These men won’t always get what they want, one day this line they’ve drawn will be erased and there won’t be anything they can do about it. Just keep your chin up and make me proud. Come along now, get going, the ‘she-town’ needs you.’ The twinkle in Grandma’s eyes told Penny all she needed to know, grinning at her Grandmother she swept from the room with a kiss to the cheek and a slammed door. Penny sped down the streets dodging bicycles and people, glancing back at the Law and its solid presence, the Tay drew nearer and Penny ran down towards it. She took in a deep breath of the salty water which gleamed with a new light, she gazed up to the sky. Sunlight began to shine through the rain clouds, holding her to the silent promise, she was determined to keep.