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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...

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

Scottish politics

Scottish Labour deputy leader backs Dugdale after Corbyn ally calls for her sacking

October 18 2016

Alex Rowley has backed Kezia Dugdale after a key Jeremy Corbyn ally called for Scottish Labour to dump her and take on his independence strategy. The deputy leader’s angling for home rule was praised this week by one of Mr Corbyn’s unofficial advisors, Paul Mason, who suggested getting rid of Ms Dugdale to help fix Labour’s woes in Scotland. Mr Rowley, who said he had not read the New Statesman article, told The Courier that all Labour MSPs were behind Ms Dugdale. But the Fife MSP, who has previously said he would not oppose a second independence referendum, will host a series of public meetings championing a federal solution that has not been advocated by the Scottish Labour leadership. Ms Dugdale says her party will oppose a second independence referendum until at least 2021, with secession only compounding austerity. In the article for the New Statesman, Mr Mason said Labour must “get real” about the crisis in Scotland. “The interim solution is for Scottish Labour to adopt the position argued by their deputy leader, Alex Rowley, ‘Embrace home rule’, and support a second independence referendum,” he said. “Then throw open the doors to radical left-wing supporters of independence. "If, for that to happen, there has to be a change of leadership (replacing Kezia Dugdale), then it’s better to do it before losing your last bastion in local government.” Mr Rowley has called for a “new settlement more akin to home rule within the UK, more like a federal union that is part of a revised UK constitutional settlement”. “That is the approach I’m continuing to argue for. What I’m keen to do is promote discussion and debate because this is one of the biggest issues of our generation,” he told The Courier. Mr Rowley added: “What I’m absolutely clear on is that Kezia Dugdale is the Labour leader in Scotland and will continue to lead the Labour party in Scotland with the full confidence of all MSPs.” In the immediate aftermath of Brexit he said he would “not oppose” indyref2 given the SNP manifesto for Holyrood 2016 had pointed to a Leave vote as a material change of circumstances. Mr Rowley will kick off a series of public meetings on Brexit on Thursday night at the Fire Station Creative arts centre in Dunfermline. Responding to Mr Mason’s comments, a source close to Ms Dugdale said: “Independence would lead to further austerity, as even some senior SNP figures have finally admitted,” the source added. “That is why there will be no support for a second independence referendum from Scottish Labour.”

Fife

Fife nurse who ‘panicked’ after drug error cleared to carry on working

March 26 2016

A hard-pushed Fife duty charge nurse who “panicked” and tried to cover up an error has been cleared to continue practising by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Shyvonne Mason admitted incorrectly administering a patient with phenobarbitone instead of morphine sulphate at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital on October 25 2014, before incorrectly filling out drugs records in a bid to hide what she had done. However, an NMC panel has ruled that Ms Mason’s fitness to practise has not been impaired despite what was described as a “serious departure of the standards expected of a registered nurse”. Evidence presented to the panel showed that Ms Mason was a “good and caring nurse” who had been experiencing some health issues at the time of the incident. Ms Mason “panicked” after learning of her mistake, the panel heard, resulting in her “impulsively” amending records and destroying two vials of morphine sulphate. The panel also heard how Ms Mason was responsible for the whole hospital site, which included 40 wards and more than 300 staff. Many wards were short-staffed and the hospital had exceeded full capacity, while Ms Mason had also been constantly interrupted when administering the drugs. The panel concluded that, in light of Ms Mason’s full cooperation and “multiple positive testimonials”, a finding of impairment was not necessary. “Indeed, the panel finds that the public interest is best served by returning a capable, competent and caring nurse to unrestricted practise,” the NMC concluded.

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.

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

Rocktalk

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.

Fife

Nurse accused of attempt to cover up drug error

March 19 2016

A Fife nurse is to face allegations of dishonesty and covering up a mistake later. Shyvonne Jessica Mason is due to appear before the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) charged with failing to properly check drugs transferred between two wards, and incorrectly administering Phenobarbitone instead of Morphine Sulphate to a patient on October 25 2014. She is also accused of trying to conceal her error by incorrectly destroying two vials of Morphine Sulphate, incorrectly amending records and incorrectly entering a colleague’s signature in the controlled drugs book. Ms Mason’s case is due to be heard before the end of March.

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

Perth & Kinross

Benefit fraudster tried to pass-off live-in partner as son

April 3 2017

A Perthshire woman who claimed to be single to scam thousands of pounds in benefits attempted to convince investigators her live-in partner was actually her son. Irene Mason’s desperate gambit was doomed to failure, however, as “an anonymous tip-off” had given a detailed description of the man who had shared her home for eight years. The man, in his fifties, was sitting on the 62-year-old’s sofa at her home in Forgandenny when council officers made an unannounced visit last year. By the time they were on her trail, she had obtained more than £6,400 in benefits she would not have been entitled to had she informed the authorities she was sharing her life with Michael Devlin. Inquiries with banks, insurance companies and others inextricably linked Mason to Mr Devlin, who was in full time employment. Perth Sheriff Court heard the paper trail included a joint motor insurance policy registered to her address, with him as the first named driver. There were also credit agreements on various items and goods in her partner’s name. Depute Fiscal Bill Kermode told the court: “The department of work and pensions received anonymous information that the accused was living with a partner who was in full time employment. “After extensive inquiries were undertaken, Perth and Kinross Council officers made an unannounced visit to her home. “They received a written and signed claim from Ms Mason that she lived alone. “There was a gentleman present who she claimed was her son. However, he matched the description given of the accused’s partner. He was around 50 years’ old.” Mason later stated that the pair were just friends, though she accepted they had previously been in a relationship and subsequently admitted all his mail came to her address. She continued to claim that he did not live with her – and instead stayed with his brother – though she accepted he did visit to put her bins out and occasionally to stay overnight. The accused told investigators he stayed on the couch during those visits. She subsequently admitted obtaining housing benefit and council tax benefit to the value of £6,423.98 to which she was not entitled between August 17, 2008 and May 8, 2016 by stating that she was single when in fact she was living with her partner, who was in receipt of earnings. The court heard that as of August last year she had failed to pay back any of the money. Mason, of County Place in Forgandenny, was sentenced to 180 hours of unpaid work as part of a community payback order as a direct alternative to a prison sentence.

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