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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...


Fish supper fan putting wheels in motion for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance

May 12 2015

An avid cyclist and self-confessed “fat lad at the back” hopes to raise more than £5,000 for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance this month. James Aitken from Bridge of Earn began cycling eight years ago following concerns his weight had crept up over the years from 16 to 25 stone. Since then the former Howe of Fife rugby player has been a frequent contributor to charity by cycling. Mr Aitken says he “loves his fish suppers too much to see the benefit” but has vowed to help a charity that supports “vulnerable” cyclists who go out over arduous terrain. On May 30 the 57-year-old undertakes the Cairn o’ Mount Challenge with Moira Walls, cycling to the famous viewpoint from Edzell, towards Banchory, down to Stonehaven, Inverbervie and then over the hills back to Edzell. There is a collection bucket on the counter of his favourite chippy The Fish and Chip Company in Craigie cross, Perth, and Mr Aitken has a fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/Jim-Aitken6. “It’s a local charity and the money doesn’t go into a black hole,” he said of SCAA. “As cyclists we are very vulnerable and any one of us may require their assistance one day to save our lives. “I appealed through the Masonic network in Fife, Perthshire east and Angus and so far I’ve had £2600 returned in cheques.” Mr Aitken is an active Lodge member and is well known as a Burns scholar and performer. He plays fiddle and compres at Newburgh Accordion and Fiddle Club. He has previously taken on the Kinross Sportive raising £5,000 for CHAS, and wants to cycle to John o’ Groats for Cancer Research with friends from Lomond Ceilidh Band next year. He raised £1,700 for Marie Curie during his second Etape Caledonia last year and £1,800 for Prostate Scotland with fellow Abdie Cycling Club member Moira Walls. See @jimaitkenabdie on Twitter to follow Mr Aitken’s progress.


Hibernian 5 Stranraer 3: Liam Craig fires hat-trick to ease Hibs fears

September 25 2013

Liam Craig completed his first ever hat-trick as Hibernian clinched a Scottish League Cup quarter-final slot with a 5-3 win over Stranraer. The former St Johnstone midfielder kept a clear head to net a fine treble while his team-mates did their best to let the League One upstarts back into the game after they had eased into a 4-1 lead. Hibs entered the competition a round later than the majority of their Scottish Premiership counterparts on account of their participation in what turned out to be a wretched European campaign. Thankfully for manager Pat Fenlon, five games without defeat going in to the third-round meeting with the Blues eased the pressure on his position and helped fade memories of that infamous 7-0 Europa League drubbing by Malmo. But Stephen Aitken’s Blues had pulled off the shock of the previous round by knocking out top-flight Ross County and they looked set to repeat the act in Edinburgh as Jamie Longworth’s header gave them a fourth-minute lead. Hibs did not panic at that point and were level within moments as Craig nodded home his third of the campaign before Abdellah Zoubir’s deflected strike and a Scott Rumsby own goal had them clear at the break. Craig added a fourth within two minutes of the restart but Fenlon’s side were soon teetering again. Chris Aitken’s 20-yard curler and a quick-fire third for Stranraer another OG, this time by Hibs defender Michael Nelson was enough to have the Edinburgh men fearing yet another mortifying defeat. But Craig’s third from the penalty spot on 61 minutes calmed fraying nerves and Hibs held out to secure a place in the last eight.


Dunfermline paedophile ‘likely to reoffend’ gets four years off sentence

November 20 2015

A man who subjected two girls to months of sexual abuse has had his jail sentenced slashed by four years. William Aitken, 42, of Dunfermline, raped and sexually assaulted the girls from the ages of 13 and 14. When he was jailed in April for 16 years at the High Court in Edinburgh, Police Scotland said the two vulnerable teenagers had suffered horrendous abuse. Jurors heard how Aitken would give his victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, money and cigarettes before preying on them. Law Lords reduced the sentence to 12 years on appeal. Aitken’s victims suffered repeatedly at his hands, one over the course of two years and the other over 10 months. The sentence imposed on Aitken, of Keir Hardie Terrace, included concurrent periods of five and 10 years for the two charges in relation to the younger girl. He was also sentenced to five and six years concurrently for his offences against the other girl, but with these terms consecutive to the first two. Aitken was considered likely to reoffend and trial judge Lady Wolffe said the initial sentence reflected the fact Aitken was a “calculating and predatory” individual. Following Aitken’s appeal Lord Bracadale said Lady Wolffe had not taken sufficient account of the “significant and unexplained” delay in bringing Aitken to trial after he was charged in September 2010. He also said: “We consider that in this case, in addition to the issue of delay, the cumulative effect of the consecutive sentences has produced an overall sentence which is excessive, particularly in the case of a first offender.” Jailing Aitken, Lady Wolffe had told him he was guilty of “calculated and predatory sexual abuse for your own sexual gratification of two vulnerable girls in their early teens in respect of whom you were in a position of trust”. She said: “Sexual crimes involving children are particularly odious. “Such abuse is not acceptable in a modern society and it is the responsibility of the court to reflect that understanding.”

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


Dundee University academics defend marking boycott

April 2 2014

Dundee University academics have defended their threat to boycott marking the work of students. The industrial action, due to be implemented nationally from April 28 as part of a pay dispute, has been criticised by student representatives, who are worried about its impact on those sitting exams or submitting coursework. Janice Aitken, branch president of the University and College Union (UCU), said: “As with all industrial action, it is not taken lightly and we hope sincerely that the marking boycott does not have to go ahead.” The union appreciated student association members who signed an open letter believed they were acting with the interests of students in mind. However, their approach was “short-sighted and naive” and was out of step with the National Union of Students, whose Scottish president had expressed support for the UCU’s action. “Despite this unfortunate statement by a vocal minority, we hope that the majority of students in the university agree with students across the country and support us in our fight for their future and the future of education,” Ms Aitken said.

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.


Dunfermline man facing jail for rape and sexual assault of girls

March 24 2015

A man who sexually abused two young girls over a four-year period is facing a lengthy prison sentence. William Aitken, 42, from Dunfermline, raped and sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl on various occasions between February 2008 and March 2012. His victim cannot be identified for legal reasons. The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Aitken also repeatedly sexually assaulted another girl between September 2009 and June 2010. The court heard how the child, who also cannot be named for legal reasons, was aged 14 when Aitken started targeting her. Police eventually learned of Aitken’s offending behaviour and officers arrested and took him into custody. A jury convicted Aitken, of Keir Hardie Terrace, Dunfermline, of rape and sexual assault charges. Following conviction, defence solicitor advocate Gordon Martin told judge Lady Wolffe that his client knew he would be sent to prison. Lady Wolffe placed Aitken on the sex offenders register and deferred sentence to the High Court in Edinburgh on April 10.


Calling all artists to p-p-paint a Penguin

October 16 2017

Now that Maggie’s Penguin Parade has officially waddled into Dundee, it’s time for local artists across Courier Country to get creative and bring the Penguins to life. Local artist and illustrator Suzanne Scott of WhimSicAL LusH is encouraging people to submit their designs by the closing date of December 11. Once a design is chosen it will be immortalised on one of artist Janice Aitken’s original penguins and go ‘on tour’ for three months before being auctioned to raise funds for Maggie’s Centre Dundee. “Janice’s sculpture design is perfect for us artists,” smiles Suzanne. “It’s a gorgeous big canvas, with so much scope for designs. The penguin has a lovely personality already too, with such an inquisitive and interested expression. It looks like it wants to be part of and join in with any conversation that is happening around it.” Suzanne enjoyed last year’s Oor Wullie Bucket Trail, watching it bring Dundee families and the wider community together as people explore their city and enjoyed the art. “It also brought the art community together too, as we had a common goal and the perfect platform to showcase what amazing talent we have in our creative city,” she says. The judging panel will include Janice, Suzanne, her colleague Joanne MacFadyen, and Philip Long, director, V&A Dundee, along with representatives from Maggie’s Centres and Wild in Art. “I can’t wait to get all the artists involved. Professional or amateur, big names or not... it doesn’t matter," says Suzanne. "What matters is that they have a stomper of an idea that they want to bring to life. I want to see as many local artists as possible get involved again too. “We will be painting them fancy new feathers, giving them their own stories to tell, turning them into the most incredible characters and coming up with the most eye catching designs possible. There is no limit to the imagination,” she continues. “I’m looking forward to seeing all the designs coming in. If it’s anything like last time, it’s going to be tough to choose which ones to turn into reality. “Maggie’s is a wonderful charity making such a huge difference to people’s lives when they need the support the most. So to all you artists out there: this is such a fantastic opportunity to showcase your artwork to the people of Dundee and beyond. It is also an amazing chance for us to show the rest of the world what an incredibly creative city we have and how talented we all are. It’s time to start shouting via our paintbrushes... so get involved.” Excited about seeing her ‘babies’ come to life, Janice Aitken adds: “I’m very excited to see how people will interpret the penguin. It was specifically designed to be a blank canvas, to give the artists a large area to decorate with just enough character to allow for a range of expressions, costumes and surface decoration. “I personally would like to see some designs that reflect Dundee’s place in the creative world, perhaps themed around textiles, design and weaving. I love colour, so I suspect my favourite designs will incorporate lots of colour too. “There’s also a lot of scope for designs to look at the environment, given that penguin habitats are under threat from climate change. Designs that celebrate Dundee’s innovation and the fantastic scientific discoveries that have been made here would be wonderful. “As well as asking everyone in the community to get creative, I’ll be asking all of my artist and designer colleagues to take part and I hope to be able to attract some designs from well-known people too. One of the joys of this kind of project is that people will always surprise you and I know that the creative community in Dundee will rise to the occasion as they always do!” Maggie’s Centre Dundee was designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry and Annie Long, chief of fundraising at Maggie’s, is proud of the centre’s role in Dundee’s creative past, present and future. “Maggie’s feels very much a part of that world and we’re really excited to have Suzanne and her team working tirelessly to make the artists’ launch happen,” she says. “We can’t wait to see the Penguin Parade come to life.” It couldn’t be easier to submit your ideas. Just visit www.maggiespenguinparade.com to download all the information and the blank penguin design sheets.      

Other sports

Montrose squash player Lisa Aitken puts career break to good use

April 5 2018

As career breaks go, Lisa Aitken’s was as far removed from run-of-the-mill as they come. But the Montrose squash player believes that catching the mosquito-borne tropical disease dengue fever, and being forced to lie in bed and pick apart what was going right and wrong for her as a professional athlete, will give her the chance to break her glass ceiling. And it might just help her win a Commonwealth Games medal. “Unfortunately it took its time,” said Aitken. “To be honest I’d rather it was that than a normal sporting injury. “I had a lot of time to reflect. I always say that I don’t wish that it didn’t happen. “I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and I definitely stand by that. “It came at a point in my squash career that I had reached a world ranking of 38 but I wasn’t making the next step. It felt like a bit of glass ceiling and I was getting frustrated at not knowing what the next step for me was. Things needed to change. “Having that time where you’re forced to think about what you’re happy with and what you’d change has definitely been a benefit. I’ve asked myself questions, my friend questions, my family questions and my coach questions. “I got everything on the table. Over the two-and-a-half years I was off, I matured. “I came back to training and then tour as a whole new person with fresh ideas. I’ve got a more intelligent focus. “The only bad thing was I wasn’t making any money! It was a case of get out that flat, sell that car and move back in with mum and dad.” Aitken has been rising up the world rankings in recent months and also has World Tour successes to her name. “I’m playing a lot better, with a lot more to my tool belt,” she said. “I’ve been forced to do that because everybody had improved. “I’ve only been back a year and I’m playing a lot better – and I’m a lot fitter – than I was when I got to 38 in the world. “Yes, there is that number in my head but I’m thinking way beyond it. In a way it’s irrelevant. The game is different and I’m different. “It’s not a case of clicking your fingers and you’re back to where you were. You have to immerse yourself in the tour again. “Before I got ill I’d never won a tour title. Now that I’ve come back, I’ve won two.” Aitken’s last Commonwealth Games appearance was eight years ago, meaning the build-up to Australia has been “fresh and exciting.” “This definitely feels like my first Games again,” she said. “Because I’ve had all that time out my body feels great. Unless I want to have kids anytime soon then I’m going to play for as long as my body allows me. “I do see myself as a late bloomer and squash is a mature person’s game. A lot of people describe it as mental chess because of the strategy you need, always planning a few steps ahead.” Aitken will compete in the women’s singles and doubles but the mixed, with Kevin Moran, is her most realistic medal shot. “It’s pretty clear cut for me,” she admitted. “The mixed doubles is a massive one for me. “In mixed the female tends to get picked on a lot and that’s why I quite like it. It’s almost a bit of a battle of the women. “It’s dynamic, fast and exciting. “With me being a left-hander I get to take my forehand and Kevin gets to take his, which is an unusual combination. “We’ve had some good results in the build-up. We beat the silver medallists at the last Commonwealth Games. I’m really excited about it. “I wouldn’t go as far as to say there’s an expectation that we get a medal because we’ve only been together for a matter of weeks. It’s very early days. “But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have an expectation on myself because I know that it’s do-able. “We could be a joker in the pack because we’re underdogs and we’re relatively unknown as a partnership. “We could certainly medal if we play to our best. Get to the quarter-finals and semi-finals and it’s all about what happens on the day. Aitken’s love of squash was ignited at Montrose Sports Club. “My mum brought me to lessons there,” she recalled. “I was a bit of a jack of all trades. I tried everything and went to every club. I did football, a bit of cricket and badminton. In the end squash gave me the biggest adrenaline rush. “The combat between you and somebody else in such a confined space suited me. I’ve never looked back or regretted choosing squash.”