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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…


Weight a minute! Perthshire’s Battling McLuskeys reclaim ‘heaviest twins’ title

November 18 2015

A pair of Perthshire-born pensioners have claimed back their heavyweight title from a set of Edinburgh challengers. Earlier this week, Alanna Merrie’s twin boys Kaius and Troy were reported to be Scotland’s heaviest new-borns, weighing a total of 16lb 13oz at birth. But local man Bernard McLuskey said he and his twin brother William were nearly 1lb heavier tipping the scales at a collective 17lb 8oz when they came into the world on June 17 1944. In their childhood the pair became known as the “Battling McLuskeys” and were well known on the Tayside boxing circuit. While the Edinburgh babies were born by caesarean section on November 4, the Perthshire twins were born naturally. Years before the advent of the NHS, their mother Catherine delivered them in a farm cottage at Dalcrue with just the help of her mother-in-law. The youngest of six children born to Catherine and her husband Ben, William weighed 8lb 8oz, while Bernard arrived at a hefty 9lb. Bernard, who now lives near Pitcairngreen, said his mother swelled to an enormous size during her pregnancy. The 71-year-old said: “According to my sisters she was hiding from everybody for months because she was wider than what she was high. She wasn’t very tall. “We were told when we were young that we could have been the heaviest kids in Scotland at birth but we never bothered to check if it was a record. “I saw the article in The Courier yesterday and then looked up our weight and we were heavier.’My mum was a wee solid woman’“I’m not saying we are the heaviest there could be some people heavier than us. I don’t know.” He said that sturdiness is a family trait. “All our family were all big people, strong people. We are not fat but strong-built. My dad was big and my mum was a wee solid woman. My siblings were all the normal 8lb or 9lb.” During their childhood Bernard and William, who now lives in London, and their brothers Jim and George were well known across Tayside and Fife for their sporting prowess. Bernard said: “We were called Bill and Ben at Methven school. We went there when we were five and cycled there every day for ten years. “We were all boxers and all sports champions, every one of us, at Methven. “We were boxing at five and a half years old and there was a big thing in The Courier in 1949 about me and my twin brother fighting each other.” According to Guinness World Records, the heaviest twins recorded were Billy Leon and Benny Loyd McCrary, alias McGuire, from the USA. They were normal in size until the age of six but in November 1978, Billy and Benny weighed 337kg (743lb or 53st 1lb) and 328kg (723lb or 51st 9lb) respectively. Professional tag wrestlers, they each had waists measuring 2.13m (84 in). Billy died at Niagara Falls after a fall from a mini bike, on January 13 1979 aged 32. Benny died of heart failure in 2001.More twin facts:Tallest, male 7ft 3in Identical twins Michael and James Lanier of Troy, Michigan. Tallest, female 6ft 7in Identical twins Ann and Claire Recht of Oregon, USA. Oldest 102 years – Pierre and Paul Langerock, Belgium. Most sets – 16 – The first wife of Feodor Vassilyev (1707c.1782), a peasant from Shuya, Russia. Her name is not recorded. Consecutive generations – 4 – Rollings family (UK); Taylor family (USA); Sims family (UK) Longest separated – 77 years, 289 days – Elizabeth Ann Hamel (ne Lamb, USA) and Ann Patricia Hunt (ne Wilson, UK) were born on February 28 1936 in Aldershot and separated for adoption. They were reunited in Fullerton, California, USA on May 1 2014. Longest interval between births 87 days Amy Elliot was born prematurely on June 1 2012 to Maria Jones-Elliot of Glenmore, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. Her sister Kate followed on August 27. Oldest person to give birth to twins 66 years and 358 days Maria del Carmen Bousada Larain Barcelona on December 29 2006.

Perth & Kinross

Breadalbane Academy teacher ‘struggled to interact with pupils’

April 27 2016

A former Perthshire teacher at the centre of a tribunal relating to alleged incompetency felt management were “out to get her”, a hearing has been told. Gillian Scott, who taught English at Breadalbane Academy, faces a string of charges at the General Teaching Council for Scotland. The former principal teacher of English David McLuskey, who now serves as depute head, told the hearing that he had several meetings with Miss Scott in a bid to help her “to be a better teacher”. He said he felt Miss Scott, who is now teaching English as a foreign language overseas, had an over-reliance on work sheets and that there was a high level of pupil dissatisfaction with her classes. He said Miss Scott had once produced a “very daunting” pile of work sheets in relation to the Robert Jenkins novel The Cone Gatherers, which he felt was unlikely to be completed by pupils. Mr McLuskey said: “Gillian’s position was that people could not say she hadn’t prepared (for lessons). “She was using them so she didn’t have to interact with pupils – I think Gillian struggled to interact with the children. I think it was a struggle for her to go into the classroom and the work sheets were a substitute for that.” Mr McLuskey said a number of meetings over the space of several months were held with Miss Scott but that she did not seem responsive to criticism. “One meeting in particular, a review meeting with the head teacher in her office, had to be adjourned as Gillian became aggressive and vocal,” he said. He added: “Gillian didn’t really believe me when I said I wanted to support her to be a better teacher and felt that we were out to get her. “If she had seen the light she would have been a better teacher.” Miss Scott was represented by her father, James Scott, who believes that his daughter is being victimised because of her role in a “shambolic” exams row from 2009, where pupils were left waiting for more than a month for their Higher Prelim marks. Miss Scott was one of four English teachers who signed a letter to the chief executive of Perth and Kinross Council, raising concerns about the department principal at the time. It is alleged that Miss Scott failed to maintain the council’s standard for full registration while working at Breadalbane between December 2010 and November 2013. The hearing continues in Edinburgh today.


High hopes for Dundee FC signing Jamie McCluskey

August 2 2011

Dundee boss Barry Smith insists the best has yet to come from his side’s new winger Jamie McCluskey. The former Hibs and St Johnstone player has made an instant impression with fans of the Dark Blues in their two cup wins over Arbroath and Dumbarton. Smith believes that once the player is fully fit, he will be an even more impressive performer for his side. “There’s much more to come from Jamie,” he said. “He hasn’t really done much of a pre-season so he’s still getting his match fitness and once he does, he will be even better. “Jamie was probably the best player on the park at the weekend against Dumbarton in the cup and he’s certainly something different the way he makes life difficult for defenders.” Dundee launch their latest first division title bid away to Partick Thistle at the weekend and Smith believes the two cup wins give them grounds for quiet optimism for the visit to Firhill. “The league is our top priority and I think these two cup games will stand us in good stead,” he added. “They have helped get the boys up to speed for what will be a very difficult league start at Firhill. “It’s good preparation because Thistle will be up for it and so will we.” Graham Bayne is Smith’s only injury concern as he continues his recovery from a calf problem which has ruled him out of the opening two matches.


UK Unite leader says independence vote is a choice for Scottish people alone

November 2 2013

The leader of the UK’s largest trade union has clarified his neutrality in the independence debate, stating the organisation’s eventual position will be a matter for its Scottish membership. Unite general secretary Len McCuskey said the union was focused on the social and economic issues that Scotland will face, whatever its relationship with the rest of the UK. His comments come after the SNP suggested Mr McCluskey was “warming to the case for a yes vote”. The trade unionist was quoted as saying: “There’s no doubt at the moment that there’s a perception in some people’s eye, and in many of our own members’, that the SNP are a more radical party than Labour.” In a statement from Unite, he said: “I have always been absolutely clear that the question of Scotland’s future is one for the Scottish people alone. I don’t have a vote and I don’t seek one. “Currently, the position of Unite Scotland and the wider Scottish trade union movement is to remain neutral on the referendum issue, but to focus debate on the pressing social and economic issues that Scotland will face, whatever its relationship with the rest of the UK.” Christina McKelvie MSP, convener of the SNP parliamentary trade union group, said: “Len McCluskey’s open-minded views on the forthcoming referendum are very welcome and will be of interest to many trade union members across Scotland as they decide how to vote next year.”

Scottish politics

Unite boss Len McCluskey launches vitriolic attack on Labour’s Kezia Dugdale

November 27 2016

Trade union baron Len McCluskey has again stoked tensions at the heart of Scottish Labour with an explosive outburst against Kezia Dugdale. Mr McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, accused the party’s leader north of the border of doing a “disservice” by supporting Owen Smith when he challenged Jeremy Corbyn for the top job. This is the second time in less than a year Mr McCluskey has launched a personal attack on Ms Dugdale and he received a stinging rebuke from Labour MSP Jackie Baillie, who accused him of doing “a disservice to his members.” Mr McCluskey told the Sunday Herald: “I thought Kezia was wrong and I thought it was inappropriate for her as leader of the Scottish Labour Party to make the points she made both before and during the election and indeed since the election. “I’d have thought it would have been much more statespersonlike if she’d adopted a position like Carwyn Jones, the Welsh First Minister, who despite the fact that Owen Smith was a Welsh MP, stayed neutral. That’s what Kezia should have done and I think she’s done both herself and Scottish Labour a disservice.” In comments which will likely cause further consternation between Ms Dugdale and her deputy  Alex Rowley, Mr McCluksey backed the Mid Scotland and Fife MSP’s calls for a more federal UK, adding: “Alex speaks a lot of sense”. Recriminations continue to rage over Mr Rowley stating: “I have never considered myself a Unionist” as Scottish Labour struggles to define itself in the aftermath of the independence referendum. Ms Dugdale has declared she was “proud to vote No” in September 2014. © PAScottish Labour’s top two, Alex Rowley and Kezia Dugdale. McCluskey said: “I think the whole question of independence is a question that has captured the minds of the Scottish people and therefore for any political party to be relevant it has to respond to that. “The question of the Union is something from an English point of view that doesn’t necessarily occupy your mind. “As a worker growing up in Liverpool it never occupied my mind. All that I know is that I have a strong affinity with the Scottish working class. “The issue with the Union, the UK, is not uppermost in my mind. What is though, is the solidarity with workers whether it’s in Glasgow or Grimsby.” In a final swipe, Mr McCluskey, who told Ms Dugdale she should apologise to Scots for her party “betraying” working people in January, appeared to back Mr Rowley as being the man to steer Labour’s policy path in Scotland. He said: “I think Alex speaks a lot of sense. It is extraordinary what’s happened in Scotland. Of course we were told as long ago as 2007 when the SNP was targeting seats in the East End of Glasgow that they were beginning to be perceived as a more radical social democratic party then Labour. “Unfortunately 2011 saw the SNP’s further advances and of course it’s been a steady move since. Last years’s [General] Election was like a tsunami. “So Scottish Labour does have to take a serious look at itself and effectively say to the Scottish people that it is Labour on their side that speaks their language and that language has to be one of opposing austerity and supporting a fairer, more just Scottish society where working people receive the fruits of their labour. So the idea that Alex posed in the context of a Socialist argument, I think that was the correct thing to do.” He added: “Whether you are for or against independence in Scotland, what you have to be for is a fair share of wealth for Scottish working people and at the moment Labour have lost their edge. So I think what Alex has been is saying, in fact I’ve been saying it myself, is that Labour has to recapture its radical traditions.” Mr McCluskey also suggested the SNP could help keep a minority Labour government in power and claimed asking whether or not Jeremy Corbyn can win a general election is “the wrong question”. Labour’s economy spokeswoman Ms Baillie said: “These comments from Len McCluskey are disappointing at a time when Scottish Labour under Kez’s leadership is successfully holding the SNP government to account on issues that really matter to people, such as our hospitals and public transport. “We had a leadership election in the summer and it is time for everyone to move on. Personal attacks like this do nothing to help communities suffering as a result of SNP and Tory austerity. “The SNP’s cuts are hurting working families, so any suggestion the Nationalists are a progressive force is just plain wrong, as Len should realise. “His comments do a disservice to his members. Everyone in the Labour movement should unite around Kez’s plan to stop the cuts and invest in public services.” A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “Labour are the only party in Scotland who stand for what the majority of Scots want – a strong Scottish Parliament in the UK with close links to Europe. Labour are the only major party in Scotland who are willing to use the tax powers of the Scottish Parliament to invest in our economy rather than carry on the cuts. “Kezia Dugdale and Jeremy Corbyn have been clear that there will be no Westminster deal with the SNP, whose obsession with independence would mean harder austerity in Scotland that would see the poorest lose the most.” A party source added: “Like the majority of members in Scotland, Kezia Dugdale backed Owen Smith to be leader of the Labour Party.”

Scottish League 1

Forfar agree short-term deal for Jamie McCluskey

November 1 2013

Forfar Athletic boss Dick Campbell has boosted his squad by signing Jamie McCluskey initially on a short-term deal. McCluskey has featured in the Loons’ last three games as a trialist, starting the fixtures against Airdrie and Stenhousemuir, and has agreed a deal until early January. His registration papers will be lodged with the SFA today to allow him to feature in the pool for the Scottish Cup tie with East Fife on Saturday. McCluskey, who celebrates his 26th birthday next week, was released by Dundee at the end of last season after injury problems had restricted his appearances for the Dark Blues. He began his career at Hibs and has also played for St Johnstone, Wrexham, St Mirren and Clyde.

Perth & Kinross

Murthly man weighs in on heaviest babies debate

November 23 2015

A Murthly man has told of his surprise at discovering he shares a record with his long-time friend. Last week The Courier reported that Bernard McLuskey had claimed that he and his brother William could possibly be the heaviest twins ever born in Scotland. However, his friend Henry Neil has revealed that the McLuskeys only equalled a record he and his twin Adam had set more than 10 years previously, when they were born in Ayr on July 12 1932. Like Bernard and William, one twin was 9lb while the other was 8lb 8oz. However, while Bernard was the heavier twin in his set, Mr Neil was the lighter of the two in his case. The former Perth Academy music teacher said: “I didn’t know Bernard and William were the same (as us) but he was the heavier twin and I was the lighter. “He was telling me it was quarter of an hour between him and his brother but for us it was only five minutes.” He said their conception had come as something as a surprise to his parents Adam and Carrie as there was a large age gap between the twins and their older sister Isa and they had resigned themselves to having a small family. The 83-year-old said: “We had a sister who was seven years older they thought they had finished having a family after so long but then they found my mother was expecting twins. “She must have been 31 or 32, which in those days was quite late to have a child. We were born by natural birth. My mother must have been enormous.” He attributed their high birth weight to their father’s profession. Mr Neil said: “He was a dairyman, so we must have been nourished with plenty of milk.” Their record was noted by the local newspaper, which awarded the family £10 in recognition. Mr Neil’s brother died at the age of 47. Mr Neil was made head of the music department of Perth Academy in 1975, having moved from Buckhaven High.

Dundee FC

Dundee boss John Brown wields axe to squad

May 22 2013

Dundee boss John Brown has wielded the axe to his playing squad as the club prepare for life in the First Division. The manager’s budget for next season is set to be slashed and he will not be offering new deals to goalkeeper Steve Simonsen, Mark Kerr, Andy Barrowman, Colin Nish, Graham Webster, Steven Milne, Jamie McCluskey, Mark Stewart or Neil McGregor. The big surprise is that Brian Easton has also not been given the chance to extend his stay although the former Hamilton and Burnley defender has been linked with a host of clubs including St Johnstone. Lewis Toshney’s loan spell at Dundee has ended and he has now returned to parent club Celtic. Brown has tabled offers to 14 players Gary Harkins, Jim McAlister, Nicky Riley, Iain Davidson, Matt Lockwood, Ryan Conroy, Kyle Benedictus, Carl Finnigan, Kevin McBride, John Baird and Gary Irvine as well as youngsters John Gibson, Jamie Reid and James Thomson and now awaits their answers on whether they wish to remain with the Dark Blues. Whoever does accept will return to Dens Park with those already on long-term deals Martin Boyle, Declan Gallagher, Leighton McIntosh and Stephen O’Donnell.


Musicians rally to support Dick Gaughan crowdfund

September 16 2016

A crowdfunding page has been set up to support Dick Gaughan, noted writer and performer of folk and social protest songs, as he prepares to undergo medical care. Since publicly remarking onstage that he wasn’t feeling up to his best during recent concerts, a new statement from Mr Gaughan reads: “In order to prevent rumours spreading, I think I have had a stroke.” Although his condition has not been fully diagnosed, his agent said: “Dick is acknowledging that ‘something’, as yet unconfirmed, is not right.” Mr Gaughan has declared that he will see a neurologist in early October when his health situation will hopefully be clarified. The likes of playwright, poet and actor Tam Dean Burn, Fence Collective founder James Yorkston and The Bluebells’ Ken McLuskey have contributed to a fund especially set up to support the musician as he takes a break from touring. A testament to the unifying power of his music, one anonymous contributor to the fund said: “We do not share the same political views on everything, but a more honest and intelligent, not to say talented, musician and commentator I have never known.” Another comment from Rod Mackenzie said: “Best wishes to Dick. So sorry to hear of his health issues. Dick has given us so much wonderful music for so long.” • Read more: Dick Gaughan, live at Dundee Rep