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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...


Theatre preview: Para Handy, Pitlochry Festival Theatre

October 21 2016

Para Handy is a typically Scottish hero. He is the Gaelic captain (his name is the Gaelicised version of his given name, Peter Macfarlane) of the Clyde puffer steamboat the Vital Spark, which sailed up and down the West Coast of Scotland in adventures written by journalist Neil Munro. Published in the early years of the 20th Century in the Glasgow Evening News, Munro’s tales were comic capers starring the captain and his crew. These stories were also a historical document of Clyde shipping and life during wartime, however and they’ve regularly resurfaced on television and the stage in the century since. Duncan MacRae, Roddy McMillan and Gregor Fisher all portrayed Para Handy on screen, while this new production has been adapted by Scots stage stalwart John Bett. A live band will provide the musical score. www.pitlochryfestival theatre.com

Readers' letters

Extremist views of moderator

December 24 2015

Sir, - I must congratulate The Courier on its balance. You have always been very generous in publishing letters by secularists, atheists or humanists in response to Christians. In one Scottish newspaper (December 22) was an article on a church-backed study that stated: “75% of us think church is good”. That was a reprint, complete with the same picture, of an article that appeared earlier in the year. The paper also published the Christmas message from the notorious Rev Robertson, moderator of the Free Church of Scotland who has spoken publicly that gay marriage doesn’t exist, that paganism is the greatest threat to modern civilisation, that one of the basic functions of his charity, Solas is helping atheists overcome their “ignorance” that Mormonism is a dishonest and deceitful cult” and Islam is a model of consistency and logic. I doubt many saw Mr Robertson’s tweets congratulating Slovenia for voting against gay marriage. I’ve always wondered why so many of a Christian bent have letters published in some newspapers. Perhaps they operate a similar policy to a Christian evangelical working for an MP who admitted shredding constituents’ letters before the MP gets a chance to read them. Garry Otton. Secretary, Scottish SecularSociety, 58a Broughton Street, Edinburgh. March of strident fundamentalists Sir, - John Munro (December 21) lives in a black and white world where violence is always committed by religious people and even if an atheist were to be violent it is not done to promote their atheism. To support his fairy story he offers a list of “facts” most of which are just simply false. Among his many mistakes are the following: In the ancient world the vast majority of the Greeks, Persians, Romans, Egyptians and Israelites were not theists. Only some of the Persians and the Israelites could be called that. The rest were either polytheists or atheists. Less than 40% of the population in South Africa regularly attend church, thus refuting Mr Munro’s claims that the great majority are active Christians. The statement that there were no atheist slave traders or imperialists is as risable as his claim that Mussolini was a Christian. Mussolini, as a socialist youth, declared himself to be an atheist and railed against the Catholic Church even declaring that only idiots believed the Bible. Mussolini was typical of the other great dictators of the 20th century, Mao, Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot. Mr Munro dismisses all this by saying that they did none of these things because of their atheism, which then begs the question, how does Mr Munro know that religious people who do acts of violence do so because of their religion? If atheists do nothing bad because of their atheism, then by the same token one assumes they do not build hospitals, schools and help the poor because of it? Mr Munro’s letter is typical of the new fundamentalist atheist approach, which sadly auto-selects only those facts which confirm their own beliefs and enables them to mangle history, logic and to advance their prejudice. David A. Robertson. St Peter’s Free Church, 4 St Peter Street, Dundee. A step forward for Saudi Arabia Sir, - Derek Farmer (December 17) credits me with a runaway political hobby horse. Perhaps it has been obliged to travel so fast to keep pace with Mr Farmer’s obsessive attacks on Scotland’s First Minister and her party, of which I am not a member, at every opportunity. I have no need of any history lessons on the politics of the Middle East, having served part of my National Service in the Canal Zone. I am well aware of how women are treated not only in Syria but in other countries in the region. I am not in a position to speak for Nicola Sturgeon about her desire to send women negotiators to Syria but I am well aware of the roles played by Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Syria conflict, with Saudi Arabia being supplied with weapons by the UK. What Mr Farmer seems unaware of is that in municipal elections held in Saudi Arabia, 19 Saudi women were successful in gaining office. It is a long way from achieving equality but a step in the right direction. Allan MacDougall. 37 Forth Park, Bridge of Allan. Credit where credit’s due Sir, - In response to Derek Farmer of Anstruther and his diatribes of negativity towards anything remotely connected with the Scottish Parliament, I will give him a quote from a senior politician from Monday. It read: “There can be no denying that whether it be fox hunting, smoking in public places, the right to roam or Section 28, where the Scottish Parliament led, the UK Parliament subsequently followed.” Now I wonder who would have made such a claim? Perhaps it was Nicola Sturgeon or John Swinney? Not a bit of it, in fact it was David Mundell, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the only surviving Conservative in Scotland. Let’s give credit to our parliament where it is due and stop knocking something that has for most been successful and a breath of fresh air in the story of Scotland regardless of who is currently in charge. All this constant whining about it is worse than a Church of Scotland sermon delivered by Rev I.M. Jolly. Bryan Auchterlonie, Bluebell Cottage, Ardargie. Deluded faith of climate change Sir, - Your correspondent Walter Attwood, Friends of Earth Stirling (FoES), rushes to print when his climate-change religion, is challenged. His statement that extreme weather events are caused by greenhouse gas emissions is wrong. The IPCC has stated that there is little or no link between climate change and extreme weather events. The world currently depends on fossil fuels to provide 87% of all its energy uses. Oil comes in at 33%, natural gas 24% and coal at 30%. Hydro and nuclear power are on 10%, leaving solar and wind with a paltry 3%. Oil is needed for 1.2 billion vehicles world-wide. Clean gas is needed for a current world population of 7.4 billion. China, India, and developing countries will continue to burn coal to grow their economies. China has 2,363 coal-fired electricity plants with another 1,171 planned. India has 589 with 446 planned. None have carbon-capture and storage so their emissions will double or even treble by 2030. Does Mr Attwood really think that developing countries will ever listen to a green pressure group from Stirling and abandon their use of cheap fossil fuels for expensive renewable energy? Clark Cross. 138 Springfield Road, Linlithgow.

Angus & The Mearns

Arbroath man kissed gran goodbye before taking bag of knives to ‘exact revenge’

February 21 2014

A knife obsessive “kissed his grandmother goodbye” before he took a bag of blades to “exact revenge” on another man. Conor Munro, from Arbroath, was jailed for more than three years after Forfar Sheriff Court heard he posed a “significant and random danger to the public” due to his self-professed love of carrying knives. Munro, 21, took a bag of nine blades from his grandmother’s kitchen, ranging from four to 10 inches, before turning up at his ex-girlfriend’s door in search of a man in the house. Munro previously admitted an indictment alleging that on October 5 last year, at Sidney Street in Arbroath, he behaved in a threatening manner and attempted to enter the property in possession of a knife and a bag of knives. Sentencing him, visiting Sheriff Valerie Johnston said Munro only avoided the maximum sentence under statute four years in jail due to his early guilty plea. She said: “He took these knives with intent to exact revenge on a young man who he believed disrespected him. “He kissed his grandmother goodbye, told her he loved her, and he knew he was going on a course of action that meant he would go to prison.” Sheriff Johnston said a report compiled by social workers betrayed a dangerous “ideation about knives” possessed by Munro. “It says that when he drinks, he looks to take a knife,” she said. “With a knife, he said, no one thinks they are better than him.” Defence solicitor Lynne Sturrock said: “He is under no illusion that custody is the only option for him. “He apologised to his grandmother and said he wouldn’t be back.” The court previously heard Munro’s 22-year-old ex-girlfriend had asked him to leave when he appeared at her home around 4.30am. However, he returned 30 minutes later and when she opened the door she saw him holding a knife at waist level, and a bag in his other hand. Munro tried to enter the flat to approach a man who was also in the property, asking him: “Do you think you’re a big man now?” The man phoned 999 and Munro then left the flat to go to his father’s house, where police traced him shortly after. Officers found a range of steak knives which the accused had taken from his grandmother’s home, with whom he stayed at the time. Munro has been on remand or licence for four of the last six years. In 2011, he was convicted of assaulting a woman on December 30 2010 with intent to rob at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

When Libby Jones was invited by Bank Street Gallery owner Susie Clark to exhibit at her gallery in Kirriemuir, she became intrigued by the history of the town. As well as Kirriemuir’s most famous son and Peter Pan author JM Barrie, she discovered the town had also been home for a time to AC/DC singer Bon Scott, Victorian mountaineer Hugh Munro, and 19th century writer Violet Jacob. She found the town had been a hotbed of witchcraft in the 16th century and is also world famous for its gingerbread and decided to combine all these elements. Ms Jones went on to craft a boxed set of prints, which also doubles as a card game. She said: “This tongue-in-cheek edition of 10 boxes, of 20 cards per box, features Kirriemuir characters presented on a slice of gingerbread on a plate. I have also made a poster featuring all the 10 characters in the game.” Visitors can see images of Edinburgh Castle with fireworks, wildlife such as gannets, and artwork made after a visit to Antarctica. Londoner and master printmaker Ms Jones exhibited work from her sub-zero stay at a Discovery Point exhibition in Dundee last year. Children can see her work Cooking the Climate, a comment on global warming, which consists of a microwave oven and slideshow with rotating polar animals. There is also a fossilised mobile phone in a second installation, Fossils of the Anthropocene an exploration of the traces that might remain of civilisation in 50 million years’ time. She is also exhibiting a selection of her woodcuts, linocuts, collagraphs and screenprints at the gallery. The exhibition runs until November 8 and opening hours can be found on www.bankstreetgallery.org, or by telephoning 01575 570070.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

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

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.


Inspirational Cupar man defies cancer by bagging five Munros in a weekend

May 18 2016

A Cupar man who continues to defy cancer has called on others to enjoy what Scotland’s great outdoors have to offer after bagging five Munros alone over the weekend. Andy Duncan was told back in October 2012 he would probably live no longer than three years after being diagnosed with a malignant and aggressive form of prostate cancer. https://vimeo.com/104625516 (Video: Click 'CC' for subtitles) Almost four years on, however, the 56-year-old is very much still with us and is focused on climbing as many Munros as he can before his illness makes it impossible. Having conquered numbers 45 through 49 in the space of just two days in glorious sunshine on Saturday and Sunday, Andy is already planning number 50 with the firm belief that fresh air and the tranquillity that Scotland’s countryside can bring is helping him live life to the full. “I was living and working in the Netherlands when the doctors told me I had cancer and the first prognosis I got said I would only have three years, at which point I decided to do a lot of work on myself,” he explained. “It changed my life and I decided to come back to live in Scotland from Utrecht thinking I was going to die. “When I got back here the medical approach was slightly different and the doctors thought I could maybe benefit from radiotherapy, which seems to have held it at bay. “But cancer at this level is an entirely mental thing. I don’t have any debilitating symptoms, but it is a purely mental struggle. “At the moment I’m reasonably fit and healthy, but I know one day the cancer will change that so I’m trying to climb as many Munros as I can. “My abiding passion is walking in the Scottish mountains, and I’ve done it for a long, long time. “I do it to keep myself alive, to keep myself strong, and to keep myself level headed basically. “There’s a discipline needed to do it and if I can encourage others to do the same then great.” Andy’s other passion is cycling and he can be seen negotiating the streets of Edinburgh by bike as a freelance messenger in Edinburgh. His local venture was set up in 2014 after working for more than a decade in the Netherlands with De Fletskoerier Utrecht, a collective messenger company he co-founded. He also has an avid interest in philosophy and has written a collection of aphorisms which summed up his thoughts after being given his bleak prognosis a few years ago. His exploits in climbing the Munros with cancer has inspired hundreds of people via social media in recent days, and it’s something that Andy should be proud of. “Scotland has absolutely spectacular scenery,” he concluded. “Yes, the weather might not be the best sometimes but when it’s good the scenery is always spectacular. “It’s available to everyone and more and more people should take advantage.” Andy's efforts have been described as "inspirational" on the Scottish Hill Walking & Wild Camping page on Facebook. Scores of people have left messages thanking him for his photos and positivity and wishing him luck in bagging as many Munros as he can.

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