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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…

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.

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

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

Scottish politics

Labour figures eyeing up independence are ‘living in fairyland’, says party veteran

August 23 2016

Labour grandee Tam Dalyell has said those in the party warming to Scottish independence on the back of the Brexit vote are “living in fairyland”. Former First Minister Henry McLeish and David Martin, who is Labour’s longest-serving MEP, are among the senior Labour figures who have said they could be converted to the independence cause. Official Scottish Labour policy is to oppose a second referendum on secession until at least 2021, but leader Kezia Dugdale has been accused by some quarters of softening her pro-Union stance. Delivering his assessment of those in the party shifting towards independence, Sir Tam told The Courier: “They are living in fairyland. I think they are wrong. “McLeish and others had better realise that there is no chance of an independent Scotland being admitted into the European Union. “No prime minister of Spain would allow it and nor would the Germans.” Mr McLeish, who led a Scottish Labour government in 2000/01, said earlier this year the party must abandon its strategy of “just saying no to independence” and advocated a “new alternative of real home rule”. Mr Martin, who is on Ms Sturgeon’s Standing Council on Europe, has said independence is “worth considering” if Scotland cannot retain access to the single market. Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley revealed last month that he would not oppose a second independence referendum, saying the Brexit vote had shifted the debate. His boss Ms Dugdale reprimanded on live radio yesterday saying it was “wrong” for Mr Rowley to take that stance against party policy. Sir Tam, who was an MP in Scotland for 43 years and a fervent Unionist, called on MPs from all parties to block Brexit. “I believe it is up to every member of Parliament to do the right thing and to vote against the triggering of Article 50,” he said. “I would hope the House of Commons blocks Brexit and I have very strong views on this.” He said the referendum result does not have to be enacted because “people were lied to and misled by (Boris) Johnson and others”. “You look at what Brexit would mean for places like Dundee, and the damage it could do to universities like Dundee, and I am very angry about it,” he added. Article 50 is the legal mechanism through which member states leave the EU. Political and constitutional experts disagree on whether Parliament has to vote on whether it is triggered.

Dundee

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.

Students take to London streets in tuition fees protest

November 15 2017

Students have flooded the streets of central London demanding the end of tuition fees, in a protest backed by Jeremy Corbyn. Hundreds of young activists marched on Whitehall bearing placards calling for the rich to be taxed to fund higher education. Organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the demo received the endorsement of the Labour leader and his supporting grassroots movement Momentum. It was great to see you all at #FreeEdNOW! What next? Organise on your campus, boycott the NSS and come to our conference in December! https://t.co/7xKfyNHDl4 pic.twitter.com/SXCBX1g5Ff— Against Fees & Cuts (@NCAFC_UK) November 15, 2017 Simultaneous events were taking place across the country, including at university campuses. Red flares were let off by several protesters as they gathered in the shadow of Parliament, with the crowd chanting: “What do we want? Free education. When do we want it? Now.” Huddled around a makeshift stage in Parliament Square, many brandished placards reading “Free education now” and “Tax the rich”, while listening to student speakers. Students protest in the capital (John Stillwell/PA) It follows a decision by the Government to freeze, rather than reduce, university tuition fees at a maximum of £9,250. The event organisers wrote online: “There is no shortage of wealth in our society: enormous riches lie hoarded in the pockets of a few. “Let’s tax that wealth and put it to better use by investing in an education run by and for students, workers and communities. “Instead of a decimated adult education sector and ongoing job cuts on many university campuses, we’re fighting to reverse cuts to further and higher education, to invest, to create decent jobs, and to support students.” The rally follows a Government decision to freeze tuition fees (John Stillwell/PA) Natasha Ryan, 20, a student at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, was among those in attendance. She told the Press Association: “I’m from a working class background in Liverpool and my family can’t really support me as other families could so I’ve had to get many jobs to find, and save to come up to uni.” Joel Douglas, 22, who is studying sound art design at the London College of Communication, said he wanted to see student fees and existing student debt abolished in its entirety. “For me, I think there is a lot of fear around education,” he said. “It’s certainly quite a scary thing, the fact that you are kind of expected to go into education, but you also have the prospect of paying off this debt for a long time – for the rest of your life.” Protesters gather in central London (John Stillwell/PA) Last week, Mr Corbyn issued a message of solidarity and urged people to join the event. He said: “Since 2014, the Tories have made unprecedented cuts to further education – they’ve taken away bursaries for nurses and they’ve abolished maintenance for the poorest students. “Now the Tories think that capping university fees at £9,250 a year will be some sort of remedy to all this – what an insult. “Everyone should have access to quality education from the cradle to the grave, without being forced into debt and anxiety. “No-one should be shut out. That’s why I’m supporting the demonstration.” (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 PA Reporters'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', 'd25b3e1a-5345-49d6-9fae-ba06340b096c'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); 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': 'Students take to London streets in tuition fees protest'});

Theatre

Review: Bus Stop, at Pitlochry Festival Theatre

July 29 2010

It’s probably the film of William Inge’s play that is best known to most people with Marilyn Monroe playing the showgirl who gets swept off to Montana by a hormonal young cowboy. Their journey is interrupted by a snowstorm which strands the pair and the other bus travellers overnight at Grace’s Restaurant in a small Kansas town. The 1955 play is a different matter from its celluloid incarnation. Deceptively simple, it’s not only the turbulent tale of cowboy and singer, although they are mainly centre stage, but of a range of relationships embodied in the characters, from young and innocent to old and sleazy. It’s the kind of bittersweet tale at which director Ken Alexander excels. The characters are slowly introduced as Grace (Jacqueline Dutoit) who runs the diner and schoolgirl Elma (Jennifer Rhodes) prepare for the next bus in the early hours. In comes sheriff and preacher Will Masters (PFT stalwart Dougal Lee looking about 10 feet tall with a beard only just shorter), a man who likes to gently lay down the law. Cherie the night club singer runs in away from the grasp of the cowboy, who has abducted her. Amanda Gordon has just the right mix of sauciness and ingenuousness as her feelings towards Bo change. He bursts into the diner, hyperactive, obnoxious and grabbing at his quarry. Sandy Batchelor, looking every inch the big cowboy, touchingly reveals the inner man, who has so little knowledge of life and love. Bo’s mentor is Virgil Blessing (Greg Powrie) who heads off, he knows not where, as he realises he’s no longer needed. The woman in the diner won’t let him stay in the warmth for the bus. It’s all a poignant reminder of real life. The wordless scene where Virgil is silhouetted against the rising sun is beautifully created in Simon Wilkinson’s lighting. The final relationship is Dr Lyman, the old professor with a taste for young girls and booze. His target is Elma, tellingly conveyed by Jennifer Rhodes, a mixture of wide-eyed innocence and book-learning. The use of two intervals is mistaken, just as the audience is getting to know the characters and the tension is building up, the lights go down on the first act. It’s the theatrical equivalent of opening the oven door before the souffle has risen. Photo courtesy of Douglas McBride/Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

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.

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