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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...


Award-winning US actress Jean Stapleton dies at 90

June 25 2013

Jean Stapleton, the character actress who played Archie Bunker’s better half, Edith, in TV’s groundbreaking 1970s comedy All In The Family, has died. She was 90. She died of natural causes at her New York City home surrounded by friends and family, her children said. “It is with great love and heavy hearts that we say farewell to our collective Mother, with a capital M,” said her son and daughter, John Putch and Pamela Putch, in a statement. “Her devotion to her craft and her family taught us all great life lessons.” Little known to the public before All In The Family, she co-starred with Carroll O’Connor in the top-rated CBS comedy about an unrepentant bigot, the wife he churlishly but fondly called Dingbat, their daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers) and liberal son-in-law Mike, also known as Meathead (Rob Reiner). Stapleton received eight Emmy nominations and won three times during her eight years in the show. Produced by Norman Lear, the series broke through the timidity of US TV with social and political jabs and ranked as the No. 1-rated programme for an unprecedented five years in a row. She also earned Emmy nominations for playing Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1982 film Eleanor, First Lady of the World and for a guest appearance in 1995 on Grace Under Fire. Her big-screen films included a pair directed by Nora Ephron: the 1998 Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan romance You’ve Got Mail and 1996’s Michael starring John Travolta. She also turned down the chance to star in Murder, She Wrote. The theatre was Stapleton’s first love and she compiled a rich resume, starting in 1941 in New England and moving to Broadway in the 1950s and 60s. In 1964, she originated the role of Mrs Strakosh in Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand. She proved her toughness when her husband of 26 years, William Putch, suffered a fatal heart attack in 1983 aged 60 while the couple was touring with a play directed by him. Stapleton went on stage in Syracuse that night and continued on with the tour.

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

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

Drug addict raped and murdered woman, 80, before pawning her wedding ring

April 10 2018

A drug addict burglar raped and murdered an 80-year-old devout churchgoer before he pawned her jewellery, including her wedding ring, for £110.Charles Stapleton, 52, targeted his neighbour, widow Teresa Wishart, who he befriended months earlier and did paid odd jobs for in her home in Kirkby, Merseyside.The grandmother-of-11 was bludgeoned to death with one or more heavy objects before Stapleton raped her – when she was probably unconscious – and pulled free the wedding ring that she had worn for 60 years.Sentencing him to life with a minimum term of 31 years, the Honorary Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone QC, told Stapleton that he and his victim came from”opposite ends of the spectrum of character, responsibility and behaviour in every-day life”.On Tuesday, Liverpool Crown Court heard Stapleton was a habitual user of cocaine, heroin, crack cocaine, cannabis and Spice, who had 108 previous convictions including numerous burglaries, dishonesty offences and drug possession.Mrs Wishart had lived at her home in Changford Road since 1967 and was a popular member of the community who was described by one neighbour as  “very lovely, like the mother of the street”.The mother-of-four, whose husband Christopher died in 1996, regularly attended St Mary’s RC Church in Northwood where she also spent time as a volunteer cleaner.Nigel Power QC, prosecuting, said a neighbour saw the defendant stumbling about in his garden between 10.30pm and 11pm on October 18 last year.He said: “She saw the figure in the garden pull himself up on to the fence and put his legs over and drop into Mrs Wishart’s garden.“She thought that it was just the defendant acting strangely and didn’t really see it as suspicious.”Later the neighbour spotted lights going on and off in Mrs Wishart’s house and a silhouette of a person moving from room to room.Mrs Wishart’s body was found on her living room floor by her youngest daughter the following morning when she dropped by to take her shopping.On the same morning, Stapleton visited a pawnbrokers in Kirkby town centre and sold Mrs Wishart’s wedding ring, a second ring, a watch and a pair of earrings for £110.Following house-to-house inquiries the defendant, of Watts Close, was arrested on suspicion of burglary and later for murder and rape.When cautioned he replied: “Murder and rape, that’s not what I’m about, check my record.”But in January he pleaded guilty to murder and burglary and on Tuesday he admitted rape on the first day of his scheduled trial.In a victim personal statement, Mrs Wishart’s youngest daughter, Julie, said that her mother was “so proud” of her home where she felt “safe and content”.She said: “Her ultimate goal was to leave her home to her children as her legacy on how to keep a home.”One of her wishes was to be cremated and sent off from her own home, the court was told.Her eldest daughter, Lesley, said a “monster” had denied her mother a dignified death, the funeral arrangements she had made and the chance for her family to kiss her goodbye.Simon Christie, defending, said his client could not recall what made him burgle the home and commit “these dreadful acts which appals and disgusts him” but he had  taken a “potentially toxic” combination of drugs.During the investigation it emerged that in the early hours of October 18 – before the killing – Stapleton posted on his Facebook status “I could quite easily kill again and do another 30yrs”.Judge Goldstone rejected any assertion that Stapleton’s “drug-crazed state” had blocked out any memory of the “sheer wickedness and inhumanity” of his actions.He went on: “Her (Mrs Wishart) character was as immaculate as her appearance.“She was as generous in spirit as she was materially.“I am quite satisfied in the months preceding her death you realised she was an easy target and no doubt believed she had property that was well worth stealing.”He added that as well as violently attacking her, it was “beyond belief of any right-thinking human being” that he went on to rape her.In a statement, Mrs Wishart’s family said: “Our family will never forgive Stapleton for his brutal and despicable acts last October, a day in which he destroyed a life, broke a family and continues to affect a whole community.“For our mum to be attacked in what should be the safe haven of her home is something that we still struggle to comprehend, nearly six months later. “For someone to prey on an innocent, vulnerable woman in this way is beyond belief and has stunned everyone who knew and loved her.“Mum was an innocent pensioner who was living out the latter years of her life in the peace and comfort of her home, which she worked so hard on and was so proud of.“Our mum had a heart of gold and had given that man odd jobs to do days before he chose to enter our mum’s home and savagely attack her, then ransack her beautiful home. “

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.

UK & World

Ex-police adviser vows to fight racially aggravated offence charge

April 22 2018

A former race relations adviser to the police has vowed to fight a prosecution in court after being charged with a racially aggravated offence.Judah Adunbi, also known as Ras, was arrested at his Bristol home on April 18 and will appear in court next month. Adunbi, of Easton, Bristol, was charged with a racially aggravated public order offence following an alleged incident at a betting shop on the city’s Stapleton Road on March 29.The 64-year-old, who is a former member of the Independent Advisory Group to Avon and Somerset Police, has been released on conditional bail to appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on May 22.Tony Murphy, of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, issued a statement on behalf of his client.“Ras Judah has a long history of challenging racism in all its forms and he shall be resisting this prosecution,” Mr Murphy said.Last year, Adunbi was allegedly hit in the face by a police officer using a Taser in Colston Road, Easton.A video of the alleged incident was widely shared on social media.Pc Claire Boddie, of Avon and Somerset Police, is due in court on Monday for a pre-trial hearing in relation to that case.She denies a charge of common assault.In a statement, the Justice 4 Judah campaign called on the public to support Adunbi at court.“We encourage campaign supporters to gather outside Bristol Magistrates’ Court this coming Monday at 1.30pm to show some solidarity,” the statement added.Avon and Somerset Police said in a statement: “A 64-year-old man has been charged with a racially aggravated public order offence following an incident at a betting shop in Stapleton Road, Bristol on March 29.“Ras Adunbi, of Easton in Bristol, was arrested on April 18 and subsequently charged with a racially aggravated public order offence.“He has been released on conditional bail to appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on May 22.”


Squadron Leader Gerald ‘Stapme’ Stapleton

April 26 2010

Members of Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre have been saddened to learn of the death of Squadron Leader Gerald 'Stapme' Stapleton. Stapme, a veteran of the Battle of Britain, shot down his first German aircraft while stationed at Montrose with 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron prior to being posted south and joining the battle proper. Montrose was primarily a training station but the north-east needed protection, as did the training units, so there was always a front-line squadron at Montrose. Tall, blond and sporting a splendid handlebar moustache, Stapme was to many the quintessential Battle of Britain fighter pilot and he returned to Montrose on a number of occasions to support the trust. In 1940, while stationed at Montrose, he shared in the destruction of two German bombers before he moved with his squadron to Hornchurch. Within a few days he had engaged the fighter force escorting the Luftwaffe bombers and was credited with probably destroying two Messerschmitt 109s. By the beginning of September 1940, 603 Squadron was one of the most heavily involved and during that summer of 1940 he shared in or was credited with shooting down at least 14 enemy aircraft. When reflecting on the battle Stapleton said, "Despite the casualties, when I look back, I recall we had great fun.Exciting time"It was an exciting time and we made the most of our opportunities to live it up. We tended to treat each occasion as if it were our last." He was born in South Africa in 1920 and educated at King Edward VI School in Totnes, Devon. He entered the RAF on a short service commission in January 1939 and after a brief spell flying Blenheim night fighters, joined 603 Squadron. In 1944 he was put in command of No 247 Squadron operating from advanced landing grounds in Normandy then abandoned German airfields as the Allies advanced. Stapleton and his pilots attacked enemy transport and armour. In September they supported the airborne operations at Nijmegen and Arnhem. While attacking a train at low level with rockets during the German counter attack in the Ardennes in December, flying debris from the exploding train punctured his aircraft and forced him to crash land behind enemy lines where he was taken prisoner. He remained a prisoner of war until his camp was liberated by the Russians. He left the RAF in 1946 to join BOAC, before he returned to South Africa. He returned to Britain in 1994. He died earlier this month and is survived by his wife, son and his elder brother. A second son predeceased him.


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.