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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...

Angus & The Mearns

Argentine family ‘deeply grateful’ after Arbroath marine sends Battle of Two Sisters relic back where it belongs

October 30 2015

The identity tag of a fallen Argentine soldier that lay in a former Angus Marine’s drawer for 33 years has been returned to his family. Graham Ellis, from Kirkton of Auchterhouse, removed the tag from the body of Assistant Sergeant Ramon Gumersindo Acosta on the battlefield in the Falkland Islands in 1982. Acosta was killed by a mortar blast following the Battle of Two Sisters, which took place over two days in June as British forces advanced toward Port Stanley. A 20-year-old member of Arbroath-based 45 Commando at the time, Mr Ellis and his unit were ordered to remove the tags from the dead bodies for identification by the Red Cross. Mr Ellis placed the tag in his pocket and only discovered it on his return to Britain. It remained in a drawer until a comrade of Mr Acosta’s saw an article on this website about Mr Ellis’s attempts to return it to the fallen soldier’s family. It was sent back to Argentina and is now with his daughter, with plans for a formal presentation by the Argentine government to take place in the near future. Mr Ellis said he was “very pleased”, while a former comrade of Mr Acosta said the family were “deeply grateful” to Mr Ellis and The Courier. Acosta was a national hero and a street bears his name in his native town of Jess Mara. He had written a letter to his five-year-old son, Diego, eight days before he died. It read: “I write from my position to tell you that two days ago we were in a helicopter which was bombed, the helicopter fell and caught fire, killing several colleagues of mine but I was saved and am now awaiting the final attack. “I saved three comrades from the flames. I tell you so you know you have a father you can be proud of and want you to keep this letter as a document if I do not return: and if I go back tomorrow, when we’re together I will read it at home.”

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

News

Meandering moggy makes 23 mile trip from Fife to Angus

December 8 2016

A pet cat has been reunited with its owner after making an epic trip from Fife to Angus. The puss, named Bella, covered 23 miles from a farm in Collessie to the hamlet of Kellas. Having gone missing on Friday December 2, Bella was on the run for four days. But she eventually started missing her home comforts and looked for shelter at the home of a local resident, who took her to the Wallace Veterinary Centre in Broughty Ferry. Practice manager Graham Duff said: "On Tuesday evening we received a call from one of our clients who lives in Kellas, Angus, regarding a cat who had been trying to get into her house throughout the day." Because Bella was microchipped, the practice was able to search a database and locate her owner in Collessie. "Amazingly, Bella still belonged to her registered owners and had been missing since the Friday before," said Mr Duff. "Her owners, worried about Bella’s disappearance, had been searching all around the fields where she lives, posting on local social media pages and asking around the local neighbourhood of any sightings for her." Mr Duff added: "There was no way they could ever have imagined that Bella had somehow made the 23 mile journey from Collessie in Fife, over the Tay Bridge and onto Kellas in Angus. "After a short stay at our Broughty Ferry practice and some well deserved attention from all our nursing staff, Bella was today reunited with her owners for her trip back over the water. "We did try to quiz her on how she managed to get all the way across here, but she was keeping her lips tightly sealed." Mr Duff said the tale highlighted the importance of having pets microchipped. "Bella’s owners had feared the worst, and we’re really pleased we managed to help reunite this family by the help of a tiny chip," he said.

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.

UK & World

Treasure trove of books to go under the hammer

May 14 2013

A FIRST edition of the classic novel The Great Gatsby is among a treasure trove of books being auctioned in Edinburgh this week. The collection of the late Stirling-born English teacher Bruce Ritchie has an estimated value of up to £230,000. His remarkable library includes first editions of Dickens’ Christmas Carol (1843), children’s classic the Wind in the Willows (1908) and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited (1945), complete with a note signed by the author. Among the most valuable works is a first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), which has an estimated sale price of up to £3,000. F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is expected to fetch around £700. Passionate collector Mr Ritchie attended Dollar Academy in Clackmannanshire and studied English and German at St Andrews University before taking up a post at Merchant Taylors’ School in London. He retired to Stirling and died in October last year. His library will be sold by Lyon and Turnbull on Wednesday. John Sibbald, book specialist at the auctioneers, said: “It is astonishing that a private collector could assemble this kind of collection, particularly relying chiefly on a school teacher’s salary.”

Dundee

VIDEO: Breeks’ 12 days of Christmas countdown bonus track

December 25 2014

Grouchos legend Alastair ‘Breeks’ Brodie has been taking us through his 12 musical days of Christmas. The vinyl connoisseur has been playing us 12 classic festive tracks on twelve record players from his vast collection. But since it is the season for giving he has decided to give us an extra bonus track for Christmas Day. Alastair is finishing off his festive countdown with Ella Fitzgerald and ‘The Christmas Song’ from 1959 played on his Ferguson radiogram from 1957. Breeks said: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, what could be nicer?” Alastair picked up the record player from a charity shop near the Wellgate. “The poor thing was just lying there unwanted and unloved needing looked after. “But now it sits pride of place in our living room and gets played regularly.” To hear all of the songs so far, click here.

UK & World

Venables case raises issue of anonymity in community

February 7 2018

The Jon Venables case raises the issue of whether notorious criminals should be given the chance to rebuild their lives beneath a cloak of anonymity.Since his release on licence, the child killer has now twice been convicted and sent back to jail over indecent images of children.According to a probation report, he remains at serious risk of re-offending as his interest in children is a “profound and lifelong” issue.Denise Fergus, mother of his victim James Bulger, accused authorities of hushing up his behaviour by way of a police caution when he tried to access the internet in 2015.But Edward Fitzgerald QC, representing Venables, said he still had the “capacity for good and the capacity for change”.He urged society not to give up on the defendant as he argued against a “crushing sentence” for his latest “relapse”.Venables remains in “constant fear of reprisals”, the Old Bailey was told.And despite his disturbing past, he had lived in the community for nine years before his recall.Mr Fitzgerald told the court: “He lived a relatively normal life where he worked hard for a living.”In that time, he never attempted to come into contact with any children and worked hard on his rehabilitation, he said.The lawyer said his “relapse” had been swiftly detected and acted upon by authorities.Mr Fitzgerald said Venables had acknowledged he had “urges” to access indecent material and needed help to understand why.And he admitted to his parole officer that he had a “serious problem”, the lawyer said.As he was led away by police last November, Venables said: “This is my own fault. I have let people down again.“I have had stupid urges, inquisitive. I’m not going to be seeing this for a lot of years.“It’s not going to be a slap on the wrist for me.”

Entertainment

Preview: Fife Jazz Festival, February 3 to March 18

February 3 2017

Fife gets a swing in its step as the 11th Fife Jazz Festival comes to venues, big and small, across the Kingdom. The impressive line-up includes something for all tastes, from jazz enthusiasts to those looking to dip into jazz for the first time. International jazz stars and top artists from the Scottish jazz scene will present a combination of world-premieres, Scottish debuts, and new collaborations; and there will be plenty of Festival favourites too. This first weekend (February 3-5) features three concerts in St Andrews, with the acclaimed Rose Room; one of the last ever peformances from Blues N Trouble; and Dave Batchelor presenting The Story of Swing, complete with visuals and swing dancers. Singer Seonaid Aitken debuts a new homage to Ella Fitzgerald in her centenary year at the Rothes Halls, Glenrothes. One of the great figures in British jazz, trombonist Chris Barber, leads his Big Band through a programme of traditional jazz and Duke Ellington standards at Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline. Red Stripe Band return for a rollicking night of boogie woogie, blues, jump jive and swing at Adama Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy. For the first time, the festival includes Upper Largo in its schedule, with a performance from Strangeness and Charm in the Simpson Institute. Roger Spence, Festival director, explains what makes Fife Jazz Festival different: “Every significant festival in Fife takes place in the East Neuk but this one is Fife-wide. The majority of the audiences are local and that makes it quite distictive,” he says. “It’s the high spot in the year for jazz aficianados and the last 10 years have also proved that we have attracted a lot of people who are new to jazz.” Blues fans should take note as four blues bands play over The Blues Afternoon at Carnegie Hall. The new star of European blues Ina Forsman makes her Scottish debut; Dunfermline bassist Chris Agnew appears with The Troublemakers, Fife band Lights Out By Nine reunite with Al Hughes for a special Festival appearance; and Gerry Jablonski Electric Band close out the show with their stunning blues-rock. The Festival is thrilled to present Jazz at Carnegie. Using the main house, Tiffanys and The Library, six bands play over three hours on multiple stages, for a single ticket price. “Everything in the festival is a highlight,” says Roger, “ but there is a sense of firsts and lasts. Blues N Trouble have been the foremost blues band in Scotland for 30 years, while the legendary Chris Barber is 85 – it’s unlikely Fife audiences will have the chance to hear these peeps ever again. “Sensational young blues singer Ina Forsman, the rising star of the European Blues scene, will be playing in Cupar and Dunfermline for the first time,” he continues. “And of course we are celebrating the centenary year of jazz – 1917 saw the first ever recording of jazz in New Orleans, and it was the fisrt time the word ‘jazz’ was used to describe the music. In addition, it’s the centenray year of Ella Fitzgerald and Seonaid Aitken’s homage will include all the great tunes from Broadway and the big band numbers that made Ella Fitzgerald famous.” The bands featured include a rare appearance from American saxophonist Scott Hamilton, playing with superstar Scottish pianist, Brian Kellock; the atmospheric folkloric jazz of pianist, Dave Milligan; Brass Gumbo’s funky New Orleans style brass band; the brilliant young pianist, Fergus McCreadie; Ken Mathieson Classic Jazz Orchestra with their vintage repertoire beautifully played; and Colin Steele’s stirring and unique distillation of New York Jazz and Scottish folk melody. There is a buzz around Fife musicians right now and Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra and Inverkeithing Community Big Band are showcased as part of the Festival. This year, the festival has been extended to include stellar American vocalist Curtis Stigers, who will play at Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline on March 18 with a show that features the iconic songs of Frank Sinatra. His show, One More For The Road,sees him fronting the amazing Ryan Quigley Big Band, recreating the classic 1960s combination of Sinatra and The Count Basie Orchestra. A rare opportunity to hear one of the greatest international jazz and swing singers singing the classic Sinatra repertoire with a top class Orchestra: Come Fly With Me, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, My Kind Of Town and You Make Me Feel So Young. www.fifejazzfestival.com

Jim Crumley

Return of the wreckords is music to my ears

January 10 2017

A certain gentle mockery used to come my way from within the ranks of the Crumley tribe for using the word “record” when I meant a CD. “It may be a CD”, I would say, “but it’s still a record”. The problem is the sound of the word. The verb is re-cord with the accent on the “re” part of the word and one makes a re-cording. But it comes out on a wreckord not a re-cord. Cue sundry smart-ass plays on words from within the tribe. I shouldn’t rise to the bait. But it’s gone quiet on that front recently, because look what happened: wreckords are back, actual wreckords, made of actual vinyl, played on an actual wreckord player and spelled records. There are those, of course, those slaves in the court of the style guru, who will point out that the word is vinyl, that you collect vinyl, not records, that you shop in a vinyl store not a record shop. At which point I tell them that no, vinyl is simply what the record is made from and it makes no more sense to call a record a vinyl than it does to call the sleeve a cardboard. Ah, they tell me but you don’t use the indefinite article with vinyl. It’s not “a vinyl” it’s just “vinyl”. Like Foo Fighters, I tell them, not The Foo Fighters. Their shiny little faces light up, delighted that I have heard of Foo Fighters and eager to sell me a selection of Foo Fighters’ vinyl. I really shouldn’t rise to the bait. They think they’ve invented vinyl – I mean records. They refer me to websites. I refer them to the cupboard in the lobby where I kept all the records I didn’t want to part with when records changed into CDs, patiently awaiting the return of civilisation. And lo! It came to pass. And suddenly, they are interested in records. They want to know what I have. When I tell them original LPs of the Shadows, the Beatles, Roy Orbison, Duane Eddy, Archie Fisher, Runrig (the first album – signed!), Benny Goodman, Oscar Peterson, Frank Sinatra, Ella Ftizgerald (the songbooks, gold dust!), a bunch of jazz musicians they have never heard of, Beethoven piano concertos and a boxed set of the symphonies, Pablo Casals... They snap out of the glassy-eyed stare when I pause for breath. You know, they tell me, that a lot of that is collectable. I know, I tell them. I collected them. And now that it’s easy to get record players again and hook them up to the hi-fi, I’m playing them again and oh, the joy, The trouble with CDs and all the other manifestations of recorded music which grace our lives in 2017, is twofold: one is that they don’t sound the way the music should and the other is that they lack style, presentation, sophistication. They lack the package. Here, for example, is Frank Sinatra’s September of My Years, recorded in 1965, in mono if you please. First of all, look at that sleeve. It is an original portrait of Sinatra. They painted his picture, just to go on the sleeve. Just to hold the sleeve in your hands is to hold a work of art. Then there are the sleeve notes on the back, written by Stan Cornyn. I have no idea who Stan Cornyn is but I know he can write. Here, in about 350 words, he has sketched the moment, in prose which is three-quarters of the way to poetry, as befits the greatest singer’s greatest album. A small sample: “Tonight will not swing. Tonight is for serious. “Inside, the musicians, led by coatless, posture-free Gordon Jenkins, rehearse their voice-empty arrangements. Waiting for his arrival. “Outside, in the hall, the uniformed guards wait and wonder what to do with their hands. “Unruly fiddle players, who love recording like they love traffic jams, tonight they bring along the wives, who wait to one side in black beaded sweaters. “And these wives and these fiddle players all of these are different tonight. For in a few minutes a poet will begin to speak of years ago...” You haven’t even taken the record out of the inner sleeve yet, nor yet dropped the needle on to its groove, nor yet heard the first familiar bars of the title song and the voice – the one with the definite article in front of it: “One day you turn around and it’s summer, “Next day you turn around and it’s fall...” And Stan Cornyn ended his notes thus: “September can be an attitude or an age or a wistful reality. For this man, it is a time of love. A time to sing. “A thousand days hath September.” Now that’s what I call a record.

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