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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...

Readers' letters

August 4: Care standards at Ninewells second to none

August 4 2010

Today our correspondents discuss the standard of care at Ninewells Hospital, bureaucracy in the NHS, John J. Marshall's marshalling of facts and the quality of food at the Apex Hotel in Dundee. Care standards at Ninewells second to none Sir, Your front-page report (July 31) about Mr McLeay and his wife's experiences at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, must cause concern to those about to require the services of the hospital, especially if their visit can result in a life-changing situation. For this reason, I would like to present another side to the story. I underwent radiotherapy for throat cancer in 2008, which did not solve the problem. In June 2009 I was admitted to Ward 26 for surgery. The staff were at pains to explain what I was in for and I was offered support left, right and centre, support which I personally did not want. I knew I was coming out of theatre without a voice box and that was enough but, never having been hospitalised, that was my concern. Cancer I could handle but what felt to me like incarceration was something else. However, from the minute I left theatre to the time of discharge, I had never been so pampered and fussed over in my life and I won't see 70 again. From the night nurses who brought me tea when I couldn't sleep, to the young student who nagged me incessantly about nebulising, I knew I was being well looked after. As for aftercare and support, that could not be bettered. I have a voice (but cannot sing) thanks to a valve and a therapist. I can smell thanks to the same therapist and I am regularly checked out. To be more logical, does anyone out there know anyone who hasn't slipped up? Garry Stewart.Springbank,Clayholes,By Carnoustie. Free clinicians from paperwork Sir, Mr John Blair, a retired senior consultant at Perth Royal Infirmary, is spot on with his criticism of the over-managed National Health Service (July 30). My own family's experience (two consultants and a doctor) echoes that of Mr Blair, with growing frustration among doctors and nursing staff caused by the empire-building bureaucrats who have shanghaied the National Health Service. Form-filling and box-ticking have taken over from patient care as priorities, while highly trained doctors of long experience have to defer for permission to act to managers with no medical training. Social workers, for instance, have equal status with consultant psychiatrists in decisions whether to section a mental patient or not. If the social worker says no, the patient is released against the wishes of a psychiatrist of long experience. The only way to restore sanity to the NHS is to return to the old regime where doctors and nurses were in charge, with pen-pushers relegated to the secondary role of dealing with the paperwork. Doctors and nurses complain bitterly about the top-heavy management structure, the bureaucracy and the never-ending paper-chase. Why do their organisations not take matters in hand and confront our various governments with an ultimatum - return to a system run by medical staff with a greatly reduced bureaucracy performing a secondary role, or doctors and nurses will opt out of the health service? Next to patients, medical staff are the people who matter. Faced with their opposition, even our benighted leaders would have to give way and dismantle this house of cards. If not, the only part of that title with any meaning will soon be the word national. At the moment, it is an organisation increasingly serving the interests of a bloated and blinkered bureaucracy. Paper has replaced patients at the top of their priority list. Put patients back at the top, with doctors and nurses free to make decisions about their treatment, untrammeled by endless form filling. George K. McMillan.5 Mount Tabor Avenue,Perth. A voice of reason Sir, I am sure that your columnist John J. Marshall would be the first to accept valid opinion or comment as regards his detailed article last Wednesday, but the content of the letter from James Christie (July 31) contained pure party-political bias as opposed to Mr Marshall's facts on the Megrahi case. If it was not for newspaper writers and articles of certain journalists of calibre, the public would be ill informed. Mr Christie did not have to look far for another example of the Scottish Government ignoring public opinion the letter by Ron Greer (also Saturday) on support for Calliachar windfarm. Harry Lawrie.35 Abbots Mill,Kirkcaldy. Casting pearls before swine Sir, One of the best meals (roasted lamb with colcannon) and one of the most memorable breakfasts (lightly smoked Finnan haddock, fresh rocket and a perfect poached egg) I've ever had is when I had occasion to stay in the Apex City Quay Hotel, Dundee. So I was surprised when I recently read an extremely bad review of the hotel in a tabloid. I'm not in the habit of jumping to the defence of large hotel organisations let's face it, they're big enough to look after themselves but I have to say that review was ridiculously unfair. However the management shouldn't get too worried nor should the citizens jump into the Tay yet. The piece was based on the buffet breakfast and written by a sports "pundit". Further research reveals that the reviewer's favourite meal appears to be over-spiced curries and hand-cut chips. He also complains of "the language problem" in the hotel, although it's not made entirely clear who was having the problem. Brian McHugh.52 Kirkwell Road,Cathcart,Glasgow.

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

Former Curtis Fine Papers mill owner Allan Milne

January 2 2015

A former Fife paper mill owner has died at the age of 73. Allan Milne, of Drumoig, lost his battle with cancer and died peacefully in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, on Saturday. Mr Milne was part owner of Curtis Fine Papers, having led a management buy-out of the firm, which was one of the oldest in Scotland and employed more than 400 people. Born and brought up in Aberchirder, Aberdeenshire, Mr Milne began his career in the paper industry on leaving Keith Grammar School. He began as a production trainee at Stoneywood Paper Mill, in Aberdeen, and gained a City and Guilds qualification in paper technology at what was then Robert Gordon’s Technical College. He worked in Canterbury, Kent, and at the Inveresk Group’s mill in Inverkeithing before joining the Guardbridge Paper Company, which later became Curtis Fine Papers, in 1970 as a superintendent. Mr Milne was appointed mill manager in 1984 and became deputy managing director, then managing director in 1998. His multi-million pound buyout in 2002 with Janey Hunter and Bill Whyte brought the firm back into Scottish ownership for the first time in 20 years and returned it briefly to profitability. A second buyout of the mill in 2007, a year before it closed with the loss of 180 jobs, allowed him to retire. Under his leadership the firm made numerous donations to charity and was supportive of Guardbridge Primary School. Mr Milne, who previously lived in Wormit and St Andrews, was a former president of St Andrews Rotary Club and elder of Wormit Parish Church. In 2005 he was given the St Andrews Burns Club Award for Citizenship in recognition of his work and contribution to the local community. An avid curler, Mr Milne travelled regularly to play in Wengen, Switzerland, and last year was made vice-president of the club there. He was also a member of St Andrews Curling Club and coached children. Mr Milne was also involved with the 1st St Andrews Boys’ Brigade and the Fife Scout group. He leaves behind his wife Myra to whom he was married for more than 50 years, a son, two daughters and six grandchildren.

Readers' letters

Rich-poor divide reaching obscene levels

April 12 2013

Sir, The inequality within our society is now reaching obscene levels. On the one hand we have benefit reforms. These will push a further 400,000 children into poverty. Already overstretched food banks will be further strained as more and more people cannot afford to feed themselves. At the start of this winter it was predicted around 27,000 people will die as a result of fuel poverty. That was before it was known this winter would be the longest on record. Today there are increasing numbers of suicides as desperation makes victims decide they cannot face any more. This will become worse. To take just one example from the other hand, we have a tax cut for those earning over £150,000 which will put an average of £43,000 in the pockets of around 250,000 people. The 13,000 people earning over £1 million will be better off to the tune of £100,000. Chancellor George Osborne tried to justify this cut by saying the 50% top rate of tax was not worth collecting. It raised something like £2.4 billion that sounds well worth collecting. The total amount of benefit fraud in the UK each year amounts to only 0.7% of the welfare budget. It is not the huge widespread problem we are led to believe. Tax dodging, however, costs the UK between £160 and £200 billion each year. That is a staggering problem. Would it therefore not make sense to clamp down on the amount of tax dodging and evasion as it would reap far greater returns? As things stand, the phrase “we’re all in this together” has a very hollow ring. Steve Flynn. Westfield Avenue, Cupar. An important world figure Sir, I am appalled that, almost uniquely among the British press, The Courier affords Margaret Thatcher’s death little more than a strap-line on the front page (April 9), with all further detail relegated to the minor pages. I accept she was a divisive character little loved in Scotland, however, your paper’s presentation reeks of cowardice and fear of offending readers that the news of her death be published thus. Irrespective of her politics she must be recognised, as indeed your editorial admits, as unquestionably one of the most significant world (not just UK) figures of the second half of the last century. Your paper could so easily have done its duty without opening any political debate by simply publishing a respectful photograph without significant text on the front page. I can be sure, without resorting to your archives, that no other premier of recent times, most of whom are of much less lasting import, has been treated in such a manner. Sandy Green. The Old Rectory, Cupar. Of historical interest Sir, I write as a Gaelic speaker. There are very few of us in Perthshire, Angus and Fife. However, Gaelic was spoken throughout this area during the formative period of the Scottish kingdom until the 14th century. From then on it became confined to Highland Perthshire and the Braes of Angus. Now it has slipped away almost entirely to the western islands. It is really unnecessary to add Gaelic to motorway signs and road direction signs. Duplication of names would probably add an element of confusion to the passing motorist. However, it would be of historical, cultural and touristic interest to show the Gaelic form on the entry sign of a town or village, for instance: Pitlochry, Baile Chloichrigh; Dunkeld, Dun Chailleann; Ballintuim, Baile an Tuim; Crieff, Craoibh. This is specially true of Highland Perthshire, but could apply to towns elsewhere like St Andrews, Cille Rimhinn, or Perth, Peairt. This is our patriotic duty. The original meaning of “Scot”, a thousand years ago, was a Gaelic speaker to be distinguished from a Welsh (British) or English speaker. Hamish Robertson. Creag na Sith, Princeland Road, Coupar Angus. Plastic bag tax is needed here Sir, I read with interest the articles in The Courier, April 9, regarding charging for plastic carrier bags, and I thought back to the time before the advent of these, when every housewife would automatically take a shopping bag with her, whatever she was going to be buying. I remember some stores supplied paper bags, but I don’t know how good these were. The practice of charging for plastic bags is quite common in some other countries. I know that it has been normal in Bavaria for a very long time, this was before any environmental issues came into being. I for one consider that the government would be doing the country a huge favour if legislation was brought in to do this here. June Reid. 12 Findhorn Street, Fintry, Dundee. How can it be carbon neutral? Sir, There is considerable statement and comment on the proposed biomass plant in Dundee, emphasising the potential output. Electricity is relatively easily connected to the national grid, but how is the heat output (enough for three Ninewells Hospitals) to be distributed? To where? And how is this to be charged? Personally, I cannot see the justification in cutting trees in Canada, transporting them, chipping the timber, compacting it into pellets, more transport, shipping to Dundee, then burning. How can all this be carbon neutral? Jim Reid. Birkhill.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Scottish politics

Kezia Dugdale insists Labour ‘really upbeat’ as campaign enters final days

May 3 2016

Labour's Kezia Dugdale insisted she is "immensely proud" of the campaign her party has fought as the race for Holyrood entered its final 48 hours. The Scottish Labour leader said her party is "really upbeat" and "really focused on the final few days of the campaign". She was speaking as she took her campaign, which has focused on using new tax powers coming to Holyrood to raise additional cash for public services, to a softplay centre in Glasgow. Her visit came as another poll put Labour and the Tories neck-and-neck in the fight to be the official opposition. While the SNP are comfortably ahead and expected to win another majority at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Ms Dugdale said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon may regret posing with a copy of The Sun newspaper. https://twitter.com/TheAnfieldChat/status/726710543873114113 The paper has been boycotted by some Liverpool fans for its original coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy, in which 96 football fans lost their lives, and an inquest ruled last week they were unlawfully killed. In the same week the Scottish Sun gave its backing to the SNP, with a front page picture showing Ms Sturgeon holding a copy of the paper. Neil Findlay, a former Scottish Labour leadership candidate, tweeted : "To pose like this in the week of the Hillsborough verdict is breath-taking." Ms Dugdale said: "I think given the response there has been on Twitter, she will be regretting it." Labour argues Scotland would be £3 billion better off under its plans, which would see the basic rate of income tax increased by 1p north of the border, while the top rate, for those earning £150,000 a year or more, would go from 45p to 50p. "We've got a simple, honest message that the Labour Party has a plan to stop the cuts," Ms Dugdale said. "We're prepared to use the powers of the Parliament to raise enough money to increase public spending in Scotland. If we choose not to do this we're going to face £3 billion of cuts to come in Scotland." That could see £336 million more spent in Glasgow, according to Labour, with an additional £276 million for Edinburgh and £137 million for Aberdeen. Ms Dugdale said: "I'm immensely proud of the campaign Labour has run because we are the only party that has actually been talking about ideas about Scotland's future, about how to transform the country with the powers the Parliament has, and we've done that by being bold and honest about tax, and asking the richest people in society to pay a bit more tax. "I'm immensely proud of that and I will continue to make that argument well into the future."

Readers' letters

April 8: Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers

April 8 2011

This morning's letters look at the River Tay beavers and wildlife management, taxation, fuel prices, and road safety in Fife. Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers Sir,-I read with interest your article 'Call for halt to beaver damage' (April 6) regarding the acceleration of beaver damage on the lower River Earn, reported to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) by an angler. As with other wildlife, most notably deer, whether the felled trees are viewed as damage or not is only really the concern of the landowner involved. SNH maintain that it is legal for landowners to kill or remove beavers if they deem it necessary so, officially, there is no problem here. If the landowner thinks he has a problem, SNH say he can do something about it. Others will dispute this and the legal position does require to be clarified. This is why the River Tay beavers are important. They will force us to address these issues much sooner than the official Scottish Government reintroduction of beavers into Argyll and everyone will benefit from that, whatever their views on beavers might be. There is little point in calling for a halt to the beaver damage as the Tay beavers do not read The Courier. What we need is a pragmatic approach from government to this issue which allows us to learn how these animals will interact with other land uses and provides landowners with a workable mechanism for dealing with problem situations. Ultimately, all our wildlife should be managed locally according to local circumstances and sensitivities, not by a centralised quango in Inverness. Scottish Natural Heritage are all over the place on this issue and do not have the answers. We will have to look elsewhere for those. Victor Clements.1 Crieff Road,Aberfeldy. Victorian species cull Sir,-I agree in part with Eric McVicar's letter (April 5) about culling non-indigenous species but he shows a severe lack of knowledge in some areas. For example, beavers are a native species, as are bears and wolves. The absence of these animals is solely down to Victorian bloodlust, which saw the eradication of a vast number of species worldwide simply to amuse bored aristocrats. This has left us with a red deer population held on estates causing genetic diversity issues and out of control numbers, due to the lack of natural predators. I believe he is referring to Japanese knotweed, not Japanese hogweed. If Mr McVicar is a teacher then I fear for his pupils as he seems to be giving out wrong information and failing to teach them to check their facts. (Mr) J. Phillip.3 Lyninghills,Forfar. March of indirect taxation Sir,-Your editorial (April 5) and related article on the launch of the Scottish Conservative election manifesto for Holyrood misses an important fact. The fees or graduate contribution to the sum of £4000 is for every year of study. Parents and students can do the maths. Common sense it may be for Conservatives but, for those affected, it will feel very much like indirect taxation much favoured, as many of your readers will recall, by the Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s. Iain Anderson.41 West End,St Monans. Motorists need fuel transparency Sir,-We were conned in the Budget last month. The petrol companies had predicted the one penny reduction and had already upped the price by three or four pence. So is it now possible for the UK Government to do two specific things to regain some credibility? First tell the fuel retailers to instantly removed the ridiculous 0.99 they tag on at the end of their main price and, second, make it a rule to give the displayed price per gallon and not per litre. After all, cars in particular are sold with predicted miles per gallon consumption (admittedly often optimistic) not miles per litre. And if motorists were to see immediately the true cost of fuel for their car, instead of ridiculously having to multiply the litre price by 4.546 to find out, they would most certainly be more cautious with their travels and work a lot harder at reducing petrol/diesel consumption. Having been conned a few weeks ago, vehicle owners are surely entitled to some honesty now. Ian Wheeler.Springfield,Cupar. Wind farm risk to road users Sir,-I feel compelled to reply to your article regarding Fife's fatal road crashes. With 10 out of 13 fatal crashes in 2010 happening on rural roads, the most common contributory factor given in your article was failure to observe the road properly. My concerns are related to the plans submitted to Fife Council for the giant wind turbines on Clatto Hill. The road that runs adjacent to the proposed site is the C30. This rural road demands your full attention and concentration while driving in either direction. With the road being narrow, it requires even medium-sized cars to slow down or pull in when passing. The road has several vertical crests and sharp vertical curvatures which would make the turbines appear suddenly then disappear just as quickly. As this road has seen many accidents over a number of years, this would surely add another driving distraction to an already dangerous road. Norman Moodie.Craigview,Clatto Farm,Cupar. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus councillor inspired by great-granny’s essay on the suffragists

February 9 2018

An Angus councillor has unearthed a fascinating insight into men’s views on the suffragists as the nation commemorated the centenary of some women winning the right to vote. Brenda Durno, SNP member for Arbroath and East Lunan, has been so inspired by an essay written by her great-grandmother in 1904, she is hoping to donate it to a museum in the north east. The amusing reflection was written in the Doric language by Isabella Moir, a 12-year-old pupil at Belhelvie School in Aberdeenshire. She was the eldest of 10 children and had two sisters and seven brothers. Councillor Durno said: “The celebration for the 100 years since women won the right to vote made me think of the essay. “My great grandmother was born in September 1892 and died in May 1992. “She latterly lived in Potterton with my aunt and uncle who ran the shop there and I found the essay when she died.” Mrs Durno chose to enter local politics in the footstep of her father, the SNP councillor Alex Shand, but admitted her great-grandmother was a Liberal supporter. “She was right into politics and was a great friend of Lord Tweedsmuir - the SNP wasn’t around then.” The essay relates to a conversation between a brother and sister as he reads a newspaper article on ‘The Suffragists’. As he works his way through the article, his views become apparent. He berates the efforts of the “limmers of suffragists” claiming “weemans place is at hame” It reads: “They canna mak an men their men’s sarks, keep a clean fireside an have a vote. “Gie then an inch an they wid tak an ill (mile).” The essay goes on to say there a was a time when women were happy “tae tak the chance o’ the first man that socht them, an thankful tae leave the voting an the rulin o the nation tae him”. It was on February 6, 1918 that women aged over 30, those who owned property or had a university education were granted the right to vote through the Representation of the People Act. Mrs Durno is hoping to donate the essay to a museum which specialises in the Doric and would welcome suggestions as to who to contact.

News

‘It might look a bit scary’ first edition of The Dundee Courier cleaned up for the future

June 23 2012

The first edition of The Dundee Courier appeared in 1816 and an original copy still exists in the D. C. Thomson archives. Helen Brown spoke to conservator Emma Fraser about preserving this rare piece of newspaper memorabilia. Interestingly for today's readers, this original Courier was printed in a form similar to the compact format adopted this year. This first copy has also survived in better condition than many of the later editions because it is printed on particularly high quality paper, probably handmade from rags rather than wood pulp. The Dundee Courier that appeared on September 20 1816 was a weekly. DC Thomson archivist Norman Watson explained: ''The Courier wasn't the first paper in Dundee there were many previous attempts in the late 18th century and, of course, the Dundee Advertiser from 1801. ''Both it and the weekly Courier were printed by Thomas Colville who was a well-known printer with premises in what is Whitehall Street today. ''The Courier is the one that stood the test of time, however and it was expensive, with a cover price of 7d (about 3p in modern money). It would have been read by the better-off, leisured classes with shared copies in places such as Dundee's Reading Rooms and gentlemen's clubs. The literate working classes would have been more or less excluded, although a single copy might go into the mills and be read aloud. ''With the abolition of what was called the 'tax on knowledge' in the 1850s, The Courier became the first halfpenny daily paper in Britain and set the standard for cheap, accessible, widely-read newspapers. Eventually, it became the biggest-selling provincial daily in Britain.'' An accredited conservator, Emma studied Fine Arts then trained in London for a masters in paper conservation. She spent over a decade at Dundee University's renowned Book and Paper Conservation Unit before becoming a freelance conservator. The first Courier is the oldest newspaper Emma has worked on but is a young thing in comparison with books and manuscripts she has tackled, some dating back to the 1460s. As an avid fan of Robert Burns, she was also thrilled to work on some of his original manuscripts for the Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway. Norman added: ''We're very fortunate in Dundee to have the world-class book and paper conservators to tackle a project like this. Emma's skills have allowed us to ensure that this irreplaceable treasure in the D. C. Thomson archive is protected and preserved for the 21st century.'' According to Emma, the conserved paper could be handled now, but only with extreme care. It is currently being stored in a clear, inert polyester sleeve in an archival box. But might it yet be possible for it to fulfil its original purpose and be seen by the public? Emma added: ''It could be displayed but I would recommend only for short periods and in an environment where the light and relative humidity were controlled.'' Watching someone handle fragile, friable, almost 200-year-old paper is actually quite frightening for the onlooker. Especially when it is being submerged albeit VERY gently in a trough of water. You expect it to disintegrate before your eyes. But such things hold no fears for book and paper conservator Emma Fraser, who has been working on an original copy of the first Courier from 196 years ago at our Meadowside offices. It has been washed three times over, for around 30 minutes each time, during a restoration process that has taken many hours of painstaking work. In good old Scottish tap water, too. ''It's as simple as that!'' Emma Fraser explained. ''Often we use de-ionised water and sometimes it's necessary to check PH levels and acid balances. But Scottish water is good enough for a process like this, warmed slightly to speed up reactions. Water also reinforces the bonds of the fibres of the paper. ''It might look a bit scary but paper is made in water so it's happy to go back into that medium.'' Of course, prior to its immersion, the newspaper was carefully treated with a special wax cyclododecane to fix the iron gall ink annotations which are vulnerable to further degradation during the aqueous treatments.For more historic newspapers, visit www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.ukThe wax then sublimates basically it evaporates and disappears in a process that takes between two days and two weeks. A 50/50 mix of ethanol and water was also used in a spray to relax the paper before washing in water. Ethanol increases the ''wet-ability'' of the paper, making it soak up water more readily which means more effective washing. Emma said: ''The trickiest part of the project was probably having to apply the cyclododecane wax to the ink before each aqueous treatment. It meant I had to think one step ahead before each stage. ''The copy was also bound into a bigger volume so I disbound it and took it out. The first two issues were bound together with others, adhering at the top, so they had to be separated with great care. Older repairs also had to be removed. ''The newspaper was repaired using a wheat starch paste and a handmade Japanese paper. The mulberry fibres used to make it are very strong but fine so they provide strength without bulk. The newspaper was then humidified again with the ethanol/water spray and pressed between blotters and boards with heavy weights on top.'' Continued...

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