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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

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.


“Upset and angry” pensioner hopes sharing her story of bank card theft will help others avoid becoming victims

March 17 2018

A disabled Dundee pensioner has spoken out after being preyed on by a callous thief who followed her around a supermarket and stole her bank card. Muriel Ettle, 71, was approached by a woman outside the Tesco store at Kingsway West retail park and was asked for change of a £1 coin. While she was looking for the coins, the woman swiped a bundle of cards from her purse, including a debit card. Muriel now wants to raise awareness of what happened and warn others. Her warning comes after police issued a similar caution to the public following a spate of distraction thefts at car parks in Ninewells Hospital, Aldi and Tesco in Dundee and Angus on March 8 and 9. She said: "I was one of the people targeted. "Last Friday my husband and I were in the Tesco Extra at around 1pm. I paid with card at the till and there was a girl more or less at my back as I was paying. "We then went out to the car park. I have arthritis and use a walking stick, so we were parked in a disabled bay and I was waiting for the driver next to us to leave as I need a lot of space to open the door. "Just as I'd got in the girl who had been behind me at the till approached me. She must have followed us out and waited while we were getting into the car. "She asked if I had change of £1 and I said I would have a look. "At this point I was sitting down in the car and she was above me, looking into my purse. She even put her hand in there at one point to see what coins I had. "Eventually I did find enough change and she thanked me, before going away. "I didn't get a good look at her face but she had long, dark hair and was wearing a mustard-yellow coat. She had a foreign accent." Meanwhile, Muriel's husband John, who had been putting the trolley back, noticed another female waiting a short distance away for the woman who had asked for change. He had a hunch that something wasn't right and, upon checking her purse, Muriel noticed her bank car, along with some shop loyalty cards, were gone. The couple had to call the police and cancel Muriel's card, which had fortunately not had any money stolen from it. Muriel added: "I felt so upset and angry. "I also felt foolish that my card had been taken out of my purse when I had it in my own hand. In future I won't be so obliging. "I dread to think how awful this would be for someone older and more frail than me. That kind of thing can really shake people up." A Police Scotland spokesman said inquiries continue. The suspect was described as being an eastern European woman, but police cannot confirm if it was the same person on each occasion.


New Chinese publication of classic Muriel Spark novel announced

April 12 2018

A new edition of Muriel Spark’s classic novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is being published in China with a foreword penned by Scotland’s First Minister.Nicola Sturgeon announced the publication of the new Chinese edition of the novel – saying it “highlights the global appeal” of the author.Arts chiefs say the foreword by Ms Sturgeon could make the new book a collectors’ edition.Dame Muriel Spark, who died in Italy at the age of 88, wrote more than 20 novels over her lifetime, including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – her most famous work which was made into an Oscar-winning film starring Maggie Smith.The publication of the new Mandarin translation is part of a series of special events marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Edinburgh born writer.It was announced by the First Minister at a special event at Fudan University in Shanghai to celebrate both the author’s centenary and China’s year-long Inspiring Women in the Arts programme.Ms Sturgeon said: “I am delighted that Chinese readers will be soon able to enjoy a new edition of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and as a huge admirer of Muriel Spark’s work I am honoured to be given the opportunity to write the foreword.“This publication highlights the global appeal of Muriel Spark, and underlines her status as one of Scotland’s best-loved writers. She has inspired countless female authors to take up writing, and I’m confident she will continue to do so.“Scotland’s creative industries are vital for the economy, and publishing plays an important role in that. The global programme of events being held to mark the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark can only help to promote the spread and popularity of Scottish authors.”Nick Marchand, the British Council’s arts director for China and North East Asia, added: “In a year of Inspiring Women in the Arts in China, we’re delighted to support Scotland’s celebrations of the Centenary Year of Muriel Spark.”Jenny Niven, the head of literature, languages and publishing at arts body Creative Scotland, said: “It is just fantastic that Muriel Spark’s centenary is being honoured in China in this way.“As a true internationalist herself I’d like to think Muriel would be delighted too that her work is being introduced to new audiences around the world.“The First Minister’s contribution of the foreword to the new translation of Miss Jean Brodie is a clear testament to the value that she places on reading and on literature – and will no doubt make the book a collectors’ edition.”


Teacher and keen musician Audrey Brown dies aged 76

October 16 2013

A Dundee woman who inspired many musical young people in the city and performed in local orchestras and has died in hospital, aged 76, after a stroke. Audrey Brown, nee Dyer, was a prominent member of the Dundee musical fraternity, playing piano from the age of seven and later, the cello. She was well known in amateur music circles in the city, performing with both the Dundee Symphony Orchestra and the Tayside Symphony Orchestra. A keen supporter of music in Dundee, she also faithfully attended the Broughty Opera. Audrey was born and brought up in Dundee, attending Harris Academy with her younger sister Muriel and she met her late husband Bert at the school. The couple shared a love of music and violinist Muriel said the three of them would enjoy playing together when she visited. Audrey worked as a teacher, serving as head of the junior section at Craigiebarns Primary and she also taught piano to young students for many years. Muriel said her sister maintained good social links with other former Harris pupils and was well thought of by her piano students, many of whom are now adults. She said: “Making music was her passion and tutoring was a happy time for her. Family and friends were very important to her and she remained in contact with many of her friends from school.” Although she had no children of her own, Muriel said she loved her nephews Colin and Julian as her own. Audrey was also a caring woman who looked after her mother and other relatives in their later years. She also took time to care for friends when they were ill. It was Audrey’s wish for her body to be donated to medical research and she also left money to The Kidney Cancer Charity and the British Heart Foundation, both charities close to her heart. A memorial service is to be held for her friends and family although details of this are still being arranged.


Stellar Quines aim to introduce audiences to the Age of Arousal

April 12 2011

Strange to relate in these days when being a secretary is still seen as a female domain, that it was not much more than a hundred years ago the typewriter gave women unimagined job opportunities. Helen Brown spoke to Age of Arousal director Muriel Romanes about a story of women's lives and the huge changes, social, political, personal and sexual, wrought by technology and the campaign for women's rights. The "far enough" that Muriel Romanes refers to takes shape in this production as a highly theatrical, non-naturalistic, visually arresting production with women at its heart, challenging traditions in the way it's presented as well as in the way it expresses ideas and characters. "Who would want to see utter naturalism on stage? You can get that on telly in EastEnders! It's very poetic, with great rhythms and pace, the actors are wonderful and we're so lucky to have the mix we have, from Hannah Donaldson (a former Dundee Rep ensemble apprentice) to Ann-Louise Ross, with whom I worked as an actress many years ago." She doesn't claim, though, that it's a great feminist play because it undercuts quite a lot of the accepted polemic and allows women to be flawed individuals rather than figureheads. "It's just a really interesting story. In some ways, it reminds me of the kind of theatre I used to do as an actress in the early days of 7:84. All the characters are in Gissing's original book but Linda has subverted them from figures in a rather turgid Victorian novels into people with a colourful life of their own. I think of it as a contemporary play set in the past." The suffragette element is also something Muriel is familiar with, having taken part in a reading of Perth-based author Ajay Close's play, Cat & Mouse, which takes its name from the notorious act of parliament that allowed imprisoned suffragettes to be force-fed, in this case, in Perth prison. People think of the campaign to gain women the vote as being a London-based, metropolitan movement, but there was a huge amount of suffragette activity in Scotland, names like Louisa Lumsden, Aberdeenshire-born educationalist Cambridge graduate and active campaigner for women's suffrage, as well as first head of St Leonard's School in St Andrews. A St Leonard's educated Scot, Edinburgh-born Chrystal Macmillan, was amongst the first women admitted to Edinburgh University, by 1902 was a member of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and later served on the executive in London. A committed internationalist, after the first world war she was a delegate at the Paris Peace Conference and at the International Congress of Women in Zurich which issued the first public criticism of the terms of the Versailles Treaty. She eventually became a barrister specialising in law affecting married women. Dundee artist Ethel Moorhead was another, studying art at Whistler's studio and in Paris under Alphonse Mucha, going on to become a distinguished portrait painter. She was, according to information from Dundee Women's Trail, a "boisterous" member of the suffrage movement, smashing windows, attempting arson and refusing to bow to male authority. She eventually went back to Paris in the 1920s, founding and editing one of the best-regarded art journals of the time. Muriel reckons that there are many more stories like these waiting to be discovered by a wider audience. "We did a reading for International Women's Day at the Lyceum but this is also a piece I'd love to be able to present it to audiences in Dundee and Perth. In fact, if anyone has stories about the movement in their area, I would love to see them at the current show and perhaps talk to them about it." So far the short tour has taken The Age of Arousal to very different venues across Scotland, from the Victorian splendour of the Royal Lyceum itself to the tiny 90-seater Woodend Barn in Banchory where it was performed the night before I spoke to Muriel. "I was amazed at the audience response they were banging the floor with their feet, whistling and whooping! I am very excited about being at Dundee Rep, too, with its bigger stage which will cope with the epic sweep of the piece and its intimate atmosphere which will bring it close to the audience. "The set isn't at all literal at the Lyceum, the audience could see the back of the theatre building itself and there are interesting juxtapositions in the design that give it both a period feel and a contemporary slant. The costumes are partly period, partly modern (often in the same outfit) and the famous typewriter, for example, sits on a computer table!" Linda Griffiths' play, The Age of Arousal, takes us back to the 1880s, a time of passion, confusion and a collision between notions of virtue, freedom and independence where mastery of the new machine will literally change people's lives. You may not cot consider the typewriter an instrument of revolution but without it, it's likely that women's rights would not be where they are today. Linda Griffiths' play, being given its UK premiere by Scottish company Stellar Quines, shows militant ex-suffragette Mary Barfoot and her lover Rhoda enlisting female students to learn to master the machine as a road to freedom. The effect this has on three spinster sisters takes it much further than that, taking in the breaking of taboos, rules and accepted behaviour, especially for women discovering their own sensuality, defying convention and sloughing off social restrictions along with their corsets and stays. Linda Griffiths is a Canadian playwright and it was in her homeland that Stellar Quines' director and founder, Muriel Romanes, first came across a production of her work. Griffiths' play was based, in turn, on the 1893 novel The Odd Women by Victorian writer George Gissing which she came across by accident in a Toronto book shop.Stellar Quines' production of The Age of Arousal comes to Dundee Rep on April 14-16. Performances start at 7.30pm. There will be a post-show discussion with director Muriel Romanes and cast members on April 15.Muriel explained, "When I saw the play in Toronto, I loved the idea of it although I thought it didn't go far enough to do the story and the characters justice. It's provocative on a number of levels, not least because it shows women experimenting with cross-dressing and alcohol but it's also right in the Stellar Quines' approach of presenting work about women and by women. "We needed to find a co-producer because of the need for a cast of six and partial historical costume - at the moment, Stellar Quines is me and one other person two days a week! So we were delighted when Mark Thomson of the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh came on board, having seen a reading in London featuring the actress Diana Quick." Continued...

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


Artistic director leaves Dundee Rep

February 3 2016

Dundee Rep’s artistic director Jemima Levick is leaving the theatre to join Stellar Quines in Edinburgh. Ms Levick became joint artistic director of The Rep in 2012, having joined the theatre in 2009 as an associate director at the theatre. Chief executive Nick Parr wished her luck in her new post and said she will be a hard act to follow for her replacement. He said: “Jemima has done an extraordinary job over the last seven years at Dundee Rep. “In a world of intense competition and choice; she has enhanced Dundee Rep’s reputation for quality theatre with programming that is full of ambition and creativity. “Jemima has won and been nominated for a number of awards and has directed more than 18 productions at the Rep including Beauty and the Beast, The Elephant Man and most recently The Glass Menagerie , Great Expectations and The Witches. “She has also made an outstanding contribution to championing accessibility and diversity at Dundee Rep such as last year’s production Blood Wedding.” He added: “She is one of Scottish theatre’s great talents. I know that everyone who has worked with Jemima has huge admiration for what she has delivered in Dundee. On behalf of everyone at the Rep, I wish her well for the future.” Mr Parr said the search for Ms Levick’s replacement will begin in the next few weeks. Stellar Quines Theatre Company was established in 1993 to promote the theatrical work of women. Ms Levick will replace Muriel Romanes, who is standing down as Stellar Quines’ artistic director after 20 years. Ms Levick said: “I am thrilled to take on the mantle of artistic director and chief executive of Stellar Quines. “I have a huge admiration of Muriel Romanes and of all the women who have contributed to the successes that have made it the company it is today. “I’ve learnt a huge amount at Dundee Rep for which I will always be grateful, but am looking forward to this new step and a new challenge. “Stellar Quines is an incredibly important organisation for the Scottish theatre community and beyond. “At a time when equality and the work of women remain sharply in focus, it is crucial that we have a dedicated organisation that works to promote, support and encourage artists and audiences to broaden our outlook on this agenda.”.

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.