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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…

Dundee

90 years on — How the General Strike changed British life

May 4 2016

Ninety years after the General Strike almost brought Britain to a standstill, Michael Alexander looks at its impact on Fife and Dundee. It was a watershed moment for labour relations that bitterly divided opinion and still resonates in many former mining communities to this day. Just seven years after the end of the slaughter of the First World War trenches, millions of workers across the country downed tools to take part in the biggest walkout in British history, taking a stand against savage austerity cuts imposed by a Liberal-Conservative government. Britain’s first and only General Strike began at midnight on May 4 1926, and ended nine days later. It was called by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in support of one million coal miners – including thousands in Fife – who had been locked out of their mines after a dispute with the owners who wanted them to work longer hours for less money. It was the latest in a long series of industrial disputes that had dogged the coal industry since the end of the First World War and created real hardship for mining families. Across the UK, vast numbers of workers from other industries downed tools in solidarity including bus, rail and dock workers, as well as people with printing, gas, electricity, building, iron, steel and chemical jobs. The industrial action, which resulted in fights between police and strikers in some communities, came against a backdrop of tough economic times following the First World War and the establishment’s growing fear of communism. Yet nine days after it began, the TUC, which had been holding secret talks with the mine owners, called off the strike without a single concession made to the miners’ case. The miners battled on alone. But by the November they too drifted back to work. The following year the government passed the 1927 Trades Disputes Act, which banned sympathy strikes and mass picketing. It was repealed in 1946 but the ban on secondary strike action was reintroduced by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1980, and continues to this day. Independent Fife councillor Willie Clarke, the only self-described communist holding elected office anywhere in the UK, started representing the former mining town of Ballingry 43 years ago this week. © SuppliedWillie Clarke. And the former miner, now aged 80, revealed that when he started working down the Glencraig pit at the age of 14, the General Strike “lived on” in the memory of Fife’s mining communities and still does. “My uncle, also called Willie, was involved in the 1926 General Strike, “recalled Willie, who joined the Communist Party as a teenager at a time when it was integral to life in the Cowdenbeath area. “I remember my mother telling me about the battles between the police and miners. Around 12 of the miners were jailed at Dunfermline Sheriff Court for between 10 months and a year. What happened then was that the Communist Party, which was huge in the mining communities at that time, struck a medal for each of them. “When they got released from Saughton Prison and then got the train back over to Fife, the pipe band went up to meet them off the train at Lochgelly station. It then played them through the town and the Communist Party presented them with medals at the Institute. The whole community turned out. These were working class heroes!” © PAMounted police at Orgreave Colliery, Yorkshire, during the 1984 miners’ strike Willie, who was elected to the council just days before the deaths of five miners in the Seafield Colliery Disaster of May 10, 1973, said that many of the veterans from 1926 were still around during the miners’ strikes of 1972, 1974 and 1984, and there was still a strong sense of pride in their forefathers. However, there also remained considerable bitterness. And some who had broken the strikes had still been ostracised by their communities. He said the role of women in supporting the miners during the 1926 strike was often forgotten. And it was a point he was keen to stress when he offered support and advice to the makers of the 2013-released film The Happy Lands, an acclaimed big-screen account of the General Strike which investigated the human side of how the Fife mining villages and the working-class heroes who fought for better conditions were made to suffer. © SuppliedThe Happy Lands film poster from 2013 However, not everyone supported the 1926 strike. In many areas middle-class volunteers got some buses and trains and the electricity working. A joint issue of The Dundee Advertiser and The Courier on May 11 1926 reported the strike’s “complete failure”. With Dundee print workers involved in the strike, it also led to the directors of Courier publishers DC Thomson & Co Ltd making their businesses at that time “non-union”. They also decided to merge The Courier with The Advertiser, creating the single newspaper that still exists today. © DC ThomsonThe front page of the Dundee Advertiser and The Courier on May 13 1926. Dr Billy Kenefick, senior lecturer in history at Dundee University said that for workers in Fife who were miners, the General Strike was a “nightmare and a complete disaster for the mining communities as a whole.” He added: “I do not know the Scottish figures but across the UK as a whole there were a third less miners by the late 1930’s than before the General Strike was declared when there were around 1.2 million. “As for Dundee workers, many returned to work on the May 13 with few if any problems. “But that was not the case for the print workers and the printing trades. “Outram Press in Glasgow and DC Thomson in Dundee would only employ non-union labour after the strike which led to a boycott called by the Scottish TUC Strike Committee  ‘not to purchase’ any of the title produces by either publisher (The Glasgow Herald, Evening Times, The Bulletin, Glasgow Weekly Herald and the Glasgow Evening Citizen: for Dundee the Weekly News, People’s Friend, People’s Journal, Topical Times and the Sunday Post). “Those who were not re-employed formed the backbone of the Dundee Free Press which managed through to 1933 before finally shutting down.” Ian Waddell, 63, is chairman of Fife Trades Union Council. His grandfather William Munro was involved as a striking miner in the 1926 strike in the Buckhaven/Methil area and was blacklisted by the Fife Coal Company as a result.  William remained bitter for the rest of his life. But Ian said that despite the passage of time, lessons from the General Strike remained relevant in 2016. © DC ThomsonFife miners join Dundee trade unionists for their traditional May Day march and rally from Baxter Park to City Square in 1984 He said: “One of the things the STUC is trying to combat at the moment is Zero Hours contracts. They are the modern manifestation of what was happening in 1926. I think the role of getting people unionised is important, and the STUC is doing well getting younger people involved – young people who are furious about the way Zero Hours contracts operate. “But it’s interesting that the ban on secondary strike action still stands. If not then I’m pretty sure we could have had nurses walking out in support of the striking junior doctors in England by now.”

Fife

Holyrood play casts spotlight on Fife’s mining heritage

August 18 2014

Holyrood’s Presiding Officer delivered an emotional tribute to her family’s sacrifices in Fife’s mines as the first play to be performed in the parliament’s debating chamber focused on the kingdom. Joe Corrie’s play about a Fife mining community during the general strike of 1926 was a heartstring-tugging experience for the Mid Fife and Glenrothes MSP, not least because of her mother’s additional thespian connection to the writer. Tricia Marwick said: “My mum, Mary Lee, performed in Joe Corrie’s plays in the 1940s in the Tivoli in Cowdenbeath. “Her dad was killed in a pit accident when she was in her teens, forcing that clever, well-read girl to leave school and start work. “Later, her husband, my dad, had an accident and was invalided out of the pits and then her son, my brother who is here today, was one of the sacked miners during the last miners’ strike. “My mum spoke of Joe Corrie often. So I have known of and been an admirer of his work all my life.” The National Theatre of Scotland are staging a “showcase” production of In Time o’ Strife which had been adapted, designed and directed by Graham McLaren in the debating chamber at Holyrood. Written by Corrie in the 1920s, the play stirringly explores the brutal lives of a family staring hunger and defeat in the face. The performance was followed by a Q&A session with Mr McLaren and Ms Marwick, on the theme of “community and identity”. She said: “This is a tribute to my mum and to all of the women of the mining communities. “A play about their lives, their struggles, their poverty and their determination, being performed by Scotland’s National Theatre Company in Scotland’s Parliament. “As the first woman Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament I am proud that those voices are speaking for themselves and speaking to us all.” She added Corrie had been “neglected” by history but welcomed the public performance, which was part of the parliament’s Festival of Politics.

News

Once Upon a Time in Fife film project digs into mining past

January 15 2011

In 1926, thousands of miners in Fife went on strike against plans to reduce their already meagre wages and worsen their already grim working conditions. Though doomed from the outset, their inspirational fortitude was tapped into during the miners’ strike that followed a generation later, when Margaret Thatcher ultimately crushed the unions. Now residents of former mining towns are being invited to take part in a community-led film about the 1926 strike. The Labour Party has been beaten out of power by the Conservatives and Liberals. It is a time of deep economic hardship. The Prime Minister is telling the country everyone must tighten their belts. As is usually the case, the belts of the poor seem to have several more notches than those of the rich. Is this the UK in 2011? It could be. But we’re actually looking at the country in 1926. “The circumstances then were remarkably similar to those today,” says Theatre Workshop Scotland’s artistic director Robert Rae. “We had a Lib-Tory alliance, under Baldwin, and were coming off the back of a financial crisis as a result of the gold standard. Just like now, you had a government saying ‘you’ve all got to tighten your belt’. At the top of the list of people who had to tighten their belts were miners.” Already badly paid and with harsh working conditions, Britain’s miners were ordered to work longer hours for less pay. They rebelled, going on strike for six months. The odds were hugely stacked against them. Their pay was already low, and the mining companies had the government of the day in their pocket. The miners found themselves portrayed not as hard-working men trying to secure fair pay, but as revolutionaries intent on destroying the country. They had allies, though, and achieved the occasional small victory, such as when printers refused to print copies of the Daily Mail because of an editorial that thundered, “A general strike is not an industrial dispute. It is a revolutionary move which can only succeed by destroying the government and subverting the rights and liberties of the people.” Now an Edinburgh-based charity that helps get those on the margins of society involved in the arts, Theatre Workshop Scotland is delving into this fascinating dispute. Robert has been commissioned to make a film about the Fife mining communities’ experience of the strike. The award-winning director is looking to track down relatives of the strikers, former miners, and involve the Fife community in general. “It’s going to be set in a fictional town Cardengelly, a name most Fife residents shouldn’t find too hard to unravel but we want to make it as authentic as we can,” he explains. Robert has been pulling the project together for the last two years, but its roots go back much further than that. “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” he continues. “I’ve always been a big fan of (coal miner and poet) Joe Corrie. Years ago I read his play about the miners’ strike, In Time o’ Strife, and was strongly affected by it. “I worked for a production company called 7:84, so-called because at that point seven per cent of the population owned 84% of the wealth. We made two plays about the 1984/85 miners’ strike. One of them, Six Men of Dorset, was premiered at the Sheffield Crucible to an audience of striking miners. Newsnight were there to cover the event, and it caused quite a stir.”For more information and to take part in the project call producer Helen Trew or community co-ordinator Fiona Jackson on 01592 826 313, email talkto.tws@hotmail.co.uk or visit www.theatre-workshop.comNow Robert is putting together a film about Fife’s experience of the 1926 strike, one that will have the Kingdom’s community at its heart. His first move was to approach Fife historian Lillian King and Ballingry councillor Willie Clarke, who gave their backing to the project. Speaking in Kirkcaldy Library where, along with Lillian, he’s poring over boxes of original documents from the time of the strike, he outlines the bones of the project. “Really, we’re doing it inside out compared to how you would normally put a film together. We’re organising our actors before we’ve got the script written. We want the community to drive this project.” Robert’s promise is that everyone who wants a role in the film whether behind or in front of the camera will get a chance to be involved. He’s set up two writing groups, one to work on the script and the other to work on background literature and poetry for the Joe Corrie character and groups to look at costumes and artefacts, locations, photography, and music. The groups will write scenes around the people who come forward and the resources they have. So far, items at their disposal include everything from a train to a pit pony. The project has been financed by Creative Scotland. “They’re providing two lots of funding,” he explains. “The first part is until the end of March and will enable us to get the project up and running. In order to get the second part, we have to demonstrate that we’ve successfully engaged the community.” It doesn’t sound like that’s going to be a problem. “At the last count we had 256 people signed up. We’ve been holding weekly get-togethers on Sundays at Bowhill. “Our first one was just after all the snow had fallen, when stories about the bad weather were all that was on the news. We thought we might get a dozen or so people along, but 85 made their way through the snow to get there. The next week we had 110 people.” The miners’ strike began as part of the UK-wide General Strike in May 1926. Mine bosses wanted to make the same returns every year, and during times when the coal industry was not performing well they tried to achieve this by taking from their employees. “In addition to reducing their wages and increasing their working hours, they wanted to take away their right to national negotiations,” explains Lillian. “This meant that each local area’s mining company would be able to set their own wages. Fife was already among the most low-paid areas and had a lack of industrial muscle which meant they couldn’t fight changes in the way other areas could.” The mining industry attempted their raid on their employees’ earnings in 1925. The Miners’ Federation of Great Britain responded with the combative “not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day” and the stage was set for confrontation. Stanley Baldwin’s government waded into the fray, promising a nine-month subsidy to maintain the miners’ wages. “They used the age-old tactic of setting up a committee to look into ‘fair pay’ and kick the issue into the long grass for a while,” Robert explains. The announcement of the subsidy was announced on “Red Friday” and was seen as a victory for working class solidarity and socialism. In reality it was anything but. The Samuel Commission’s report in 1926 recommended that the government subsidy be withdrawn and miners’ wages reduced by 13.5% to protect the industry’s profits. “So the miners went on strike,” Robert continues. “But the nine-month delay had allowed the government to stockpile coal and money to see them through the strike and they were able to wait the miners out. It’s the same tactic Thatcher used in 1984 and ’85.” The General Strike began with railwaymen, engineers, steelworkers, transport workers and others. Thanks to the Government’s careful planning, the Trades Union Congress had a weak hand, and after a mere nine days they called the whole thing off having wrung virtually nothing in the way of concessions from the Government. The miners pressed on alone for six more months but the odds were stacked against them and in November they accepted the longer hours, lower wages and district wage agreements, and returned to work. “It’s difficult to overstate how serious it was for the miners,” Lillian says. “Their wages were already extremely low. Most of them were tied to the mining company. Their houses were provided by the company, so by striking they weren’t just risking their jobs, they were risking losing the roofs over their family’s heads.” So far people from Crosshill, Windygates, Oakley, Valleyfield, Windygates, Glenrothes, Methil and Cowdenbeath are among those who have signed up to be part of the film. “We’ve got people from five months to 92 years old involved,” says Robert. “The film is going to follow the fortunes of three families throughout the strike. Although each of the families are fictional, their stories are drawn from real events.” One of the people involved in the strike who Robert is determined will make it into the film is known only as the Grey Seal. “No- one will tell us what his real name was, but he seems to have been quite a character. He became known for sneaking up to the houses of scabs (picket line crossers) at night and taking out their windows with small amounts of explosives.” Another episode saw thousands of women march to Lochgelly poor house and demand to be let in. “They were led by a Dixieland jazz band,” Robert says. “A Dixieland jazz band. In Fife. During a strike! It seems quite amazing. They were going through terribly hard times but they still found ways to have fun and bring a bit of lightness into their lives. I don’t want to underplay how hard their ordeal was, but at the same time I’m determined to get some of these moments of humour into the film.” Currently in pre-production, Robert aims to shoot over the summer, with post-production taking them through to next year. “We’re aiming at a date of May 2012 for the premiere,” he says. “BBC2 screened the last film I did (the BAFTA-winning Trouble Sleeping) and they’ve sounded positive about this one. It would also be great to have the film screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. “I’d love it if all of the people who’ve taken part got to go to the premiere and got to take a bow for their efforts.” All photos courtesy of www.theatre-workshop.comFor more information and to take part in the project call producer Helen Trew or community co-ordinator Fiona Jackson on 01592 826 313, email talkto.tws@hotmail.co.uk or visit www.theatre-workshop.comThe miners’ strike began as part of the UK-wide General Strike in May 1926. Mine bosses wanted to make the same returns every year, and during times when the coal industry was not performing well they tried to achieve this by taking from their employees. “In addition to reducing their wages and increasing their working hours, they wanted to take away their right to national negotiations,” explains Lillian. “This meant that each local area’s mining company would be able to set their own wages. Fife was already among the most low-paid areas and had a lack of industrial muscle which meant they couldn’t fight changes in the way other areas could.” The mining industry attempted their raid on their employees’ earnings in 1925. The Miners’ Federation of Great Britain responded with the combative “not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day” and the stage was set for confrontation. Stanley Baldwin’s government waded into the fray, promising a nine-month subsidy to maintain the miners’ wages. “They used the age-old tactic of setting up a committee to look into ‘fair pay’ and kick the issue into the long grass for a while,” Robert explains. The announcement of the subsidy was announced on “Red Friday” and was seen as a victory for working class solidarity and socialism. In reality it was anything but. The Samuel Commission’s report in 1926 recommended that the government subsidy be withdrawn and miners’ wages reduced by 13.5% to protect the industry’s profits. “So the miners went on strike,” Robert continues. “But the nine-month delay had allowed the government to stockpile coal and money to see them through the strike and they were able to wait the miners out. It’s the same tactic Thatcher used in 1984 and ’85.” The General Strike began with railwaymen, engineers, steelworkers, transport workers and others. Thanks to the Government’s careful planning, the Trades Union Congress had a weak hand, and after a mere nine days they called the whole thing off having wrung virtually nothing in the way of concessions from the Government. The miners pressed on alone for six more months but the odds were stacked against them and in November they accepted the longer hours, lower wages and district wage agreements, and returned to work. “It’s difficult to overstate how serious it was for the miners,” Lillian says. “Their wages were already extremely low. Most of them were tied to the mining company. Their houses were provided by the company, so by striking they weren’t just risking their jobs, they were risking losing the roofs over their family’s heads.” So far people from Crosshill, Windygates, Oakley, Valleyfield, Windygates, Glenrothes, Methil and Cowdenbeath are among those who have signed up to be part of the film. “We’ve got people from five months to 92 years old involved,” says Robert. “The film is going to follow the fortunes of three families throughout the strike. Although each of the families are fictional, their stories are drawn from real events.” One of the people involved in the strike who Robert is determined will make it into the film is known only as the Grey Seal. “No- one will tell us what his real name was, but he seems to have been quite a character. He became known for sneaking up to the houses of scabs (picket line crossers) at night and taking out their windows with small amounts of explosives.” Another episode saw thousands of women march to Lochgelly poor house and demand to be let in. “They were led by a Dixieland jazz band,” Robert says. “A Dixieland jazz band. In Fife. During a strike! It seems quite amazing. They were going through terribly hard times but they still found ways to have fun and bring a bit of lightness into their lives. I don’t want to underplay how hard their ordeal was, but at the same time I’m determined to get some of these moments of humour into the film.” Currently in pre-production, Robert aims to shoot over the summer, with post-production taking them through to next year. “We’re aiming at a date of May 2012 for the premiere,” he says. “BBC2 screened the last film I did (the BAFTA-winning Trouble Sleeping) and they’ve sounded positive about this one. It would also be great to have the film screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. “I’d love it if all of the people who’ve taken part got to go to the premiere and got to take a bow for their efforts.” All photos courtesy of www.theatre-workshop.comFor more information and to take part in the project call producer Helen Trew or community co-ordinator Fiona Jackson on 01592 826 313, email talkto.tws@hotmail.co.uk or visit www.theatre-workshop.comThe miners’ strike began as part of the UK-wide General Strike in May 1926. Mine bosses wanted to make the same returns every year, and during times when the coal industry was not performing well they tried to achieve this by taking from their employees. “In addition to reducing their wages and increasing their working hours, they wanted to take away their right to national negotiations,” explains Lillian. “This meant that each local area’s mining company would be able to set their own wages. Fife was already among the most low-paid areas and had a lack of industrial muscle which meant they couldn’t fight changes in the way other areas could.” The mining industry attempted their raid on their employees’ earnings in 1925. The Miners’ Federation of Great Britain responded with the combative “not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day” and the stage was set for confrontation. Stanley Baldwin’s government waded into the fray, promising a nine-month subsidy to maintain the miners’ wages. “They used the age-old tactic of setting up a committee to look into ‘fair pay’ and kick the issue into the long grass for a while,” Robert explains. The announcement of the subsidy was announced on “Red Friday” and was seen as a victory for working class solidarity and socialism. In reality it was anything but. The Samuel Commission’s report in 1926 recommended that the government subsidy be withdrawn and miners’ wages reduced by 13.5% to protect the industry’s profits. “So the miners went on strike,” Robert continues. “But the nine-month delay had allowed the government to stockpile coal and money to see them through the strike and they were able to wait the miners out. It’s the same tactic Thatcher used in 1984 and ’85.” The General Strike began with railwaymen, engineers, steelworkers, transport workers and others. Thanks to the Government’s careful planning, the Trades Union Congress had a weak hand, and after a mere nine days they called the whole thing off having wrung virtually nothing in the way of concessions from the Government. The miners pressed on alone for six more months but the odds were stacked against them and in November they accepted the longer hours, lower wages and district wage agreements, and returned to work. “It’s difficult to overstate how serious it was for the miners,” Lillian says. “Their wages were already extremely low. Most of them were tied to the mining company. Their houses were provided by the company, so by striking they weren’t just risking their jobs, they were risking losing the roofs over their family’s heads.” So far people from Crosshill, Windygates, Oakley, Valleyfield, Windygates, Glenrothes, Methil and Cowdenbeath are among those who have signed up to be part of the film. “We’ve got people from five months to 92 years old involved,” says Robert. “The film is going to follow the fortunes of three families throughout the strike. Although each of the families are fictional, their stories are drawn from real events.” One of the people involved in the strike who Robert is determined will make it into the film is known only as the Grey Seal. “No- one will tell us what his real name was, but he seems to have been quite a character. He became known for sneaking up to the houses of scabs (picket line crossers) at night and taking out their windows with small amounts of explosives.” Another episode saw thousands of women march to Lochgelly poor house and demand to be let in. “They were led by a Dixieland jazz band,” Robert says. “A Dixieland jazz band. In Fife. During a strike! It seems quite amazing. They were going through terribly hard times but they still found ways to have fun and bring a bit of lightness into their lives. I don’t want to underplay how hard their ordeal was, but at the same time I’m determined to get some of these moments of humour into the film.” Currently in pre-production, Robert aims to shoot over the summer, with post-production taking them through to next year. “We’re aiming at a date of May 2012 for the premiere,” he says. “BBC2 screened the last film I did (the BAFTA-winning Trouble Sleeping) and they’ve sounded positive about this one. It would also be great to have the film screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. “I’d love it if all of the people who’ve taken part got to go to the premiere and got to take a bow for their efforts.” All photos courtesy of www.theatre-workshop.comFor more information and to take part in the project call producer Helen Trew or community co-ordinator Fiona Jackson on 01592 826 313, email talkto.tws@hotmail.co.uk or visit www.theatre-workshop.com

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

Fife

Gordon Brown and Jim Leishman visit set of film that taps into community’s rich seam

July 27 2011

Under blazing summer skies on Tuesday former Prime Minister Gordon Brown stood in the middle of a Fife landscape once farmed by his ancestors. However, this was no cosy trip down memory lane for the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP. Instead, it was a brutal encounter with the harsh realities of abject poverty and strife caused by unemployment and strikes, reduced wages, longer working hours and the withdrawal of benefits. Britain 2011? No, 1926. Which is all being painstakingly recreated in the former mining heartlands of Fife in a major film project by well-established company Theatre Workshop Scotland. The Happy Lands, its second feature film, recounts the extreme hardship of typical Fife mining families but also reflects their community spirit, solidarity, compassion and humour. Visiting one of the sets of miners’ rows built at Bowhill restoration and recycling centre Mr Brown praised the commitment of all involved in recreating the important piece of Scotland’s seam of rich mining history. “This is great for Fife, to have them tell of what happened here and the story of the miners’ strike and the hardships and pressures people were under,” he said. “It is a great artistic endeavour but also a great piece of local history which ought to be recounted and remembered. “I lived through the miners’ strike in the 80s when people were having to use soup kitchens just think about the conditions in the 20s and the pressures they faced,” he said. The politician was pleased the production is being filmed on Brighills, where his great-grandfather had worked on the local farm which later went on to become a colliery employing over 1000 people at one time.ResonanceHaving seen scenes of a boxing bout and of families worried about the future of the pit, Mr Brown said this was a “really interesting story of Fife but one which will also have a resonance across Scotland.” And, of course, even though set almost a century ago in an area which still bears the mental and physical scars of its highs and lows with king coal, it has a curious resonance. “Unemployment is a huge problem,” the MP added. “It was in the 20s, it was in the 80s and is now. But it also spoke volumes of the unchanging spirit of community. “We pride ourselves in Fife on being strong on community and when people are in trouble and facing difficulties our communities come to support people in need and those who are suffering.” Mr Brown was joined by another who is no stranger to the area or its mining heritage Pars legend Jim Leishman, who grew up near Brighills and remembers the real Happyland in Lochgelly. He was amazed at the work put in to make the filming authentic, saying, “My grandfather and gran stayed in the Happyland and some of the family did work in Brighills and the Wee Mary and Jennie Gray pits. When I came down the brow of the hill I used to do my running here and saw the set I thought, ‘Wow!’.” He too recalled the hardships faced by the miners in the 80s and also spoke of the hardship of their predecessors in the 1926 strike. “That is when the community spirit comes out in Fife, the community pulling together, when you could get a jeelie piece at anyone’s door.”

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.

Fife

A cut above – ‘The manager of the pit used to say there’s mair coal stripped in Jimmy Nevay’s shop than in the Glencraig Colliery!’

December 17 2015

For most of his 95 years, Arthur Nevay has lived at only two addresses remarkably just a few yards apart, in the west Fife former mining village of Glencraig. Yet despite his down-to-earth nature, former internationally-renowned hairdresser Arthur is a cut above when it comes to his in-depth knowledge and passion for social history. Arthur has recently published an anthology of poems by Cowdenbeath miner poet Robert MacLeod (1876-1958), who turned to entertaining after being injured in a mining accident. And when The Courier visited Arthur at his home, it quickly emerged it’s just one aspect of his passionate research with stacks of bound volumes he has produced on local mining history carefully filed in his living room. “MacLeod was a remarkable character, and I was always impressed by the quality of his work,” Arthur said. “When a horrific accident hospitalised him for a year, MacLeod became an entertainer, and in the hey-day of the music-hall, performed at the Tivoli in Cowdenbeath as well as in pubs and clubs. “He sold broadsheets to earn a few coppers, and in times of strife to help soup kitchens, disaster funds, war wounded and other needy causes. “MacLeod lived through two world wars, the 1926 Strike, the Great Depression, eight decades of colliery disasters, and he wrote ‘lest we forget’. “He also raised the moral and spirits of the community, with his droll, witty, ‘one-liners’ that made folk laugh. “His work inspired the late John Watt, whose songs, such as ‘Fife’s Got Everything’ and ‘The Kelty Clippie’ share MacLeod’s irreverent wit.” Among Arthur’s papers, collected from local sources including MacLeod’s relatives, is a letter from MacLeod stating that “lines like these should not be forgotten”. And thanks to Arthur, folk can now enjoy this legacy. The book ‘Robert MacLeod: An Anthology by Arthur Nevay’ was recently published by Grace Note Publications after Arthur’s work came to the attention of Margaret Bennett, an honorary research fellow at St Andrews University and part-time lecturer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She was working on an oral history project, ‘The End of the Shift’, about Fife’s industrial past, when she first met Arthur. They embarked upon a shared personal goal to get the work published as a proper book. Born in Kinross in July 1920, Arthur moved to Glencraig at the age of five months when his Dundonian father bought a hairdressing business there in 1921, purchased from a Raith Rovers footballer named Dawson. Arthur had a twinkle in his eye when he revealed his stonemason grandfather helped build the foundations of the Tay Rail Bridge. As a teenager, Arthur wanted to be a compositor in the printing trade, but after being told there were no vacancies at the Lochgelly Times, he devoted his time to the family business. He attended hairdressing classes at Dunfermline’s former Lauder College and after serving with the RAF Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War, he took over the family firm following the death of his father just weeks after returning from the war. With a lifelong association to the Scouting movement, Arthur built up a business of five salons, 75 hairdressers and established a factory in Dalgety Bay producing bulk products for hairdressing salons, and an aerosol plant. He then became a director of a group of 17 companies but decided to move on to a more “suitable occupation”. “I came back to what I had known and became involved in organisation through the National Hairdressers Association, becoming president in the early 1970s,” he added. He was then appointed chairman of the Hairdressing Training Board of Great Britain. “I was the person who signed the NVQ Levels one, two and three certificates,” he laughed. “That was the first time structured hairdresser courses were introduced into Britain. I also sat on the European Union Hairdressers Federation board in Brussels.” Growing up among mining families, Arthur recalled hundreds of miners who relied upon his father for a haircut: “The manager of the pit used to say there’s mair coal stripped in Jimmy Nevay’s shop than in the Glencraig Colliery!” * Robert MacLeod: Cowdenbeath Miner Poet – An anthology by Arthur Nevay, is published by Grace Note Publications.

Fife

Fife councillor issues rallying call to mark 30th anniversary of miners’ strike

March 3 2014

A Fife councillor has issued a rallying call to former colliery workers ahead of the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike. Councillor Tom Adams, a former pit worker and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) official, plans to commemorate the event later this month. He is encouraging other former miners to join him for a mock picket to mark the anniversary of the bitter dispute. The event is scheduled to take place at the entrance of the old Frances Colliery in Dysart at 11am on Saturday March 15. Mr Adams said: “I’ve been doing this for a while, but it’s usually just me and another guy. This time, because it’s the 30th anniversary, I’m hoping to turn it into something else. “I’m trying to get as many banners there as possible. I’ve spoken to members in Lothian and they want to come through. I would love to see as many as possible turn up. We had upwards of 1,000 pickets during the strike, but I would be delighted if 20 or 30 turned up for the anniversary.” Mr Adams worked at Frances Colliery for 16 years and was also employed at the Longannet complex. He was formerly on the executive of the NUM and during the strike of 1984-85 was a picket coordinator. Last year, a report revealed that Scotland had the largest concentration of coalfield deprivation three decades after the industrial dispute came to an end. In the paper, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust uncovered a “stark gap” in deprivation levels between Scotland’s coalfield and non-coalfields areas. The collapse of Scottish Coal and the loss of 600 jobs including the demise of St Ninian’s and Blair House in Fife was described as a “body blow” to those already suffering higher levels of deprivation than the rest of the country. At its peak the Scottish coal mining industry employed 150,000 in 500 pits. In 1914 Fife had 30,000 men a tenth of the region’s population working in mines. By the late 1950s, 85,000 miners were employed in more than 150 Scottish pits but the industry stuttered in the 1960s and 1970s and was reduced to a rump by the time of the miners’ strike in 1984. Picture by George McLuskie

Business news

Scotgold Resources extending search across Scotland

March 16 2013

The company pursuing Scotland’s only commercial gold mine has extended its search for the precious metal across the country. Scotgold Resources said its main focus remained on developing the Cononish seam near Tyndrum in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. However, it said it is also carrying out hundreds of sample tests for signs of gold and silver at sites across 4,200km of Scottish countryside which it has under Crown option. In a half-yearly update to the market yesterday, the firm said: “The company continues to actively pursue exploration activities on its substantial land position. “It is noted that 85% of the area currently under Crown option to Scotgold is located outside the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National park,” the firm said. “Regional fieldwork including ongoing stream sediment sampling continued over the Inverliever, Cononish-Glen Orchy, Glen Lyon, Knapdale and Ochils option areas. “A total of 915 samples have been taken to date, and analysis of results received will be interpreted on completion of the program. “Further follow-up field visits have been concluded on prospective areas in the Knapdale and Glen Lyon licence areas.” The firm also revealed the results of its revised mineral resource estimate for Cononish, a scoping project carried out by Dr Simon Dominy of Snowden Mining Industry Consultants. The total amount of gold identified in the area including measured, inferred and indicated (MII) resource was found to be 169,200oz, worth £178.1 million at yesterday’s prices. The actual measured resource is 24,000oz, which is worth around £25.2m. The MII silver resource is estimated at 631,300oz, the equivalent of £12.04m. The actual measured part of the seam extends to 104,500oz, which would be worth around £2m at current silver prices. Scotgold has drilled and evaluated 18 holes at Cononish since January last year in an attempt to gauge the overall precious metals resource, and the company is awaiting the results of a further five boreholes drilled on the eastern portion of the seam. It said it is progressing with a production plan for the mine. “The updated mineral resource estimate will form the basis for the revised mining plan and updated Cononish Project Development Study to be completed under the auspices of Australian Mining Consultants UK Ltd,” Scotgold said. “The company will then be in a position to determine the debt capacity of the project. “The study commenced in December 2012 and is due for completion shortly,” it added.

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