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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...

Football

Scotland 1 Republic of Ireland 0: McCall masterminds Maloney magic

November 14 2014

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan revealed coach Stuart McCall was the mastermind behind the move that led to Shaun Maloney’s wonderful winner at Celtic Park. Maloney’s curling shot on 74 minutes gave the home team a deserved 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland and boosted their chances of qualifying for France 2016, the result tying them in joint-second spot in qualifying Group D along with Germany and the Irish on seven points three behind leaders Poland. It was a magical moment for Maloney, himself a former Hoops man, and he soaked up the adulation as he raced to the Tartan Army after scoring his glorious goal. He had played a short corner to captain Scott Brown, who flicked the ball back to him. The Wigan midfielder then curled an exquisite shot just inside the far post. Those in the home dugout jumped for joy, no one more so than ex-Motherwell boss McCall, who had devised the idea. Strachan said: “We are just fortunate that Stuart McCall came away with that setplay. It was a Stuart McCall goal, a variation on one of Stuart’s setplays. “You can put on a setplay but for him (Maloney) to finish like that was terrific. “I had said before that most of the games in our group outwith Gibraltar would be settled by one goal and that’s what happened. “I also said setplays would be crucial and that’s what happened. “As far as a spectacle of pure football it wasn’t that great but as a spectacle involving two groups of players not wanting to give an inch it was mesmerising. “It was like one of those big heavyweight boxing matches.” Irish boss Martin O’Neill, one of several men returning to the home of former club Celtic, bemoaned the timing of Maloney’s winner. “I know they had forced a corner but at a stage when we were reasonably comfortable in the game we conceded a goal from a setpiece,” he said. “I thought it was a frenetic match, stop-start a lot of times. “There were a lot of fouls. It was like a derby game but I still thought we could have gotten something out of it.” For full match coverage, see Saturday’s Courier.

Dundee United

Shaun Maloney showing his true potential says Dundee United boss

September 12 2013

Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara believes Scotland match-winner and former team-mate Shaun Maloney has developed into one of the country’s best performers. The Wigan player’s stunning 88th minute free-kick earned the national team a 2-1 win over Macedonia in Skopje on Tuesday night and McNamara, who played with the winger at Celtic for more than five seasons suggests Maloney’s performances are making it difficult for Gordon Strachan to leave him out. Indeed, McNamara believes Maloney could well be on his way to becoming one of the first names on Strachan’s team sheet. “It was a brilliant goal by Shaun,” he said. “He played well and he’s always been capable of that. I’ve known him a long time and he’s always been a very good technical player with his set-pieces and deliveries. “As soon as he lined it up yesterday I knew he was scoring. He’s been doing it in the Premier League in England and that’s been great for him. “It’s his second goal for his country, his last was against the Faroes a few years ago now, and he will be delighted to get that late winner. “You could see by the look on his face how much it meant to him. It’s obviously a good feeling for him. He can be a really big player for Scotland now. “He’s had injury problems over the years but he’s shown the last couple of years that especially at Wigan he’s on top form, he’s settled and he’s playing some really good football in a good side. “I’m delighted for Shaun and he really suits the role he was given in Macedonia. “He wasn’t stuck out too wide, he was given a bit of freedom and he’s an intelligent enough footballer to make the most of that kind of role. I think he was excellent but I thought the whole team was excellent.” McNamara, who earned 33 caps for Scotland in his career, also believes recent performances are proof of the country’s progression under Strachan. “There’s the England game and the Croatia game and there’s been a massive improvement,” he added. “We passed the ball really well and we looked a real threat going forward which is important. Gordon had lost a few players since the England game and changed a few things around, bringing the likes of Ikechi Anya in. “I though Anya was really good down the left hand side, so there’s some good problems for Gordon. I’d seen him playing for Watfordbut I’d never seen him playing in that role before but he was good to watch. “Confidence will be high after that and let’s hope it augurs well for Scotland.”

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

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.

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.

Theatre

Edinburgh Fringe: Wonderland

August 15 2010

Charles Dodgson, known to the world as Lewis Carroll, the creator of Alice In Wonderland, was 55 years old when he struck up a friendship with Isa Bowman, the child actress who played Alice in the stage version of the book that made its author famous and wealthy. Over the next eight years she would become an important part of Carroll's life, and her memoir is a rich source on the magical influence Carroll had upon young girls. Wonderland is an imagining of how one of the final encounters between the two may have played out. Produced by Gyles Brandreth, the musical play stars veteran stage and screen actor Michael Maloney as the Victorian author and Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Bowman. Aside from a brief prologue and an epilogue which shows their very last meeting a year before Carroll died and when Isa announced her impending marriage the action takes place over the course of a single afternoon during the pair's holiday in Eastbourne. The two act out scenes from Alice In Wonderland, with Isa playing Alice and Carroll playing with relish the weird and wonderful characters she discovers down the rabbit hole. Although Brandreth has strived to keep the piece historically accurate, he has allowed his imagination to paint in the details. One particularly charming scene is when Carroll tries to teach Isa to play his word logic game, Doublets: "Turn sleep into dream. Sleep, bleep, bleed, breed, bread, dread, dream." Both Maloney and Spencer-Longhurst are accomplished singers and the play is punctuated by a total of 16 songs. Much has been made of Carroll's apparent obsession with young girls, although in recent years scholars have sprung to his defence, arguing that child nudes were seen as a symbol of innocence in Victorian times, making it wrong to judge him through 21st-century eyes. Wonderland leaves such judgments to the audience's imagination. While there is obvious affection between the two protagonists (and bear in mind that it's the late teenage version of Isa we're getting) there are no overtly sexual overtones, yet both actors' performances are just inscrutable enough to leave you wondering. With the recent success of the Sherlock Holmes mini-series, it seems there is an emerging fascination for all things Victorian. Wonderland taps into that nicely, and deserves to be a success. Wonderland is on at Assembly @ George Street at 1.45pm until August 29 (not August 17).

Football

Macedonia 1 Scotland 2: Scots show quality so lacking at start of campaign

September 11 2013

Scotland match-winner Shaun Maloney feels there has been slow but sure improvement from the team in recent games, but refused to get too carried away with Tuesday night’s 2-1 victory in Macedonia. Maloney’s prevalent emotion was relief after he curled home a wonderful 89th-minute free-kick to get Scotland off the bottom of Europe’s World Cup qualifying Group A, where they had fallen before Friday’s 2-0 loss to Belgium. The Wigan playmaker had lost possession five minutes earlier before Goran Pandev set up Ivan Kostovski to stab home an equaliser so his goal had more than a touch of atonement about it. That might explain why he was so cautiously optimistic when discussing Scotland’s progress following their second consecutive away win. Scotland cannot finish third in the group unless there is a nine-goal swing on Serbia in the final game, when Gordon Strachan’s men host Croatia. But he acknowledged that they had not played well in the first half of the campaign, during which they drew with Macedonia and lost 2-1 to Wales at Hampden. The 30-year-old said: “It’s difficult, because we started the group so poorly. We played Macedonia at Hampden and they were probably the better side so to come here and reverse the trend is pleasing. “The last three or four games have been a bit of improvement. Friday was very difficult against Belgium. I think there is a fair gulf there. But there is slight improvements. “The Wales game was a pretty bad performance at Hampden. It was probably as bad as I have been involved in. There was definite improvement needed and I think slowly we have done that.” Maloney had only scored once in 30 previous internationals, also a free-kick, in a 2-0 European Championship qualifying win over the Faroe Islands in June 2007. And he had vowed to improve that record in the past week. “It’s definitely something I have thought of,” the former Celtic player said. “I should have scored another one a bit earlier on when I cut back on my left foot. “But it’s a nice start and I would like to try to continue that.” Scotland boss Gordon Strachan admitted their position in the table had given them something to prove. "I would imagine most of the players would think that, whether it was an individual thinking 'I must prove myself' or as a group,” he said. "To come away with a performance like that is terrific. It's just another part of the jigsaw. "We are not a great side by any manner of means but we can do terrific things at times." Watford wide-man Anya was the star of the show with an extremely positive full international debut on the left wing capped by a well-taken goal on the hour mark. And Strachan also praised Steven Naismith, who came in for Leigh Griffiths in the lone striker's role. "I thought Naismith made a big difference to the team and gave us a focal point and allowed other players to play, and that was very important," Strachan said. The Scotland boss confirmed he had taken off goalkeeper David Marshall at half-time with a hip strain while full-back Steven Whittaker went off with a groin problem in the 80th minute.

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

Dundee

Line of Duty brings in Dundee director for new series

March 24 2016

More than four million viewers tuned in to the last instalment of the BBC Two programme Line of Duty but fans old and new can look forward to the direction of Broughty Ferry-born film-maker Michael Keillor in the new series’ first three episodes. The acclaimed police corruption drama is returning to screens tonight after a two-year break. Called in to investigate an armed response unit mission gone wrong, series three sees higher stakes than ever for members of the fictional anti-corruption unit AC-12. Already a fan of the series when he joined the project, Michael promised that viewers will be shocked and excited by the action in the season premiere. “It’s the most exciting domestic cop show on British TV,” he said. “There aren’t many contemporary police thrillers which have a political element to them.” The stakes have been raised by the introduction of an armed police unit. If a corrupt policeman is a danger to society, says Michael, a policeman with a gun is all the more risky. Now based in London, Michael’s success is happening at a time when local talent is making waves in film and TV. Fans of Jericho or River City may be familiar with the directorial work of Broughty Ferry native Robert McKillop and the Fife-born Andrew Cummings. McKillop, who hails from the same street as Michael in Broughty Ferry, recently directed three episodes for the new ITV drama Jericho. Cummings recently directed Kai, a short about a contemporary dancer struggling to reach the expectations of her choreographer. Michael is keen to encourage the next generation of film-makers to pick up a camera. With Dundee Contemporary Arts having celebrated its 15th anniversary this week and the waterfront regeneration well under way, he says now is a better time than ever for new talent. Compared to 20 years ago when his career began, Dundee is far more nurturing of the arts. Michael references two cultural landmarks as major turning points in his life the release of Trainspotting and the now closed Steps Cinema. “Steps was the only place for people like me to learn about different cinema,” he said. “Trainspotting showed that Scottish cinema could be the same as North American or European cinema.” Now aspiring film-makers can create films with just a mobile phone and a computer. Being from Dundee, in fact, can actually work to your advantage despite of any naysayers. Compared to Shoreditch, in which there are five film-makers in Michael’s building alone, directors in Dundee have the chance to stand out. “Don’t think you can’t be a film-maker just because you’re not from or London or Hollywood,” said Michael. “Film-makers come from everywhere. It’s about picking up a camera, having a go and not letting anyone tell you you can’t do it.” How can we see a better reflection of Scottish stories and people in the arts? With his work in high-quality television like Line of Duty, Michael’s focus is to create a bigger pool of talent in Scottish filmmaking. After all, creating shows like Line of Duty is part of his path to creating feature films primarily in Scotland. His current project is writing a homecoming tale set in the Highlands. “I hope articles like this will help guys like me who are sitting at home thinking ‘I could do that’.”

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