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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


StAnza poetry festival begins

March 17 2011

Visitors across the world have gathered in St Andrews for Scotland's international poetry festival. StAnza began at the Byre Theatre on Wednesday night, and more than 90 writers, artists, film-makers and performers will entertain at 80 events over the five days of the extravaganza. Among those taking part are Douglas Dunn, Ciaran Carson, Selima Hill, Paul Farley, Julia Donaldson, Philip Gross, Marilyn Hacker and Bob Holman. International names on the bill include Yang Lian of China, Germany's Durs Grunbein, and poets from Italy, Georgia and Iraq, among other countries. Last night saw a concert of poetry-inspired music with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill.


Poets gather for StAnza 2011

March 12 2011

Poets from across the world are preparing themselves for Scotland's annual international poetry festival, StAnza. The festival begins with a launch night in St Andrews' Byre Theatre on Wednesday. More than 90 poets, plus writers, artists, film-makers and performers, will be entertaining at 80 events over five days among them Ciaran Carson, Selima Hill, Paul Farley, Julia Donaldson, Philip Gross, Marilyn Hacker, Bob Holman and Douglas Dunn. International names on the bill include Chinese poet Yang Lian, Germany's Durs Grunbein and poets from the US, Italy, Belgium, Georgia, Iraq and Australia. The launch night will see a concert of poetry-inspired music with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and mezzo soprano Karen Cargill. The SCO and the Music Centre at St Andrews are also involved in a concert on Sunday, March 20, that will premiere three new musical settings to poems by the Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean, to celebrate his centenary year. More information at www.stanzapoetry.org

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.

UK & World

Social workers involved in St Helena child abuse inquiry take legal action

March 23 2018

Two social workers who say an inquiry report into allegations of child abuse on the British overseas territory of St Helena destroyed their professional reputations have taken legal action.Claire Gannon and Martin Warsama, who worked on St Helena and made cover-up allegations, have sued the Foreign Office and the senior barrister who led the inquiry.They say they “stand by the accuracy and honesty of their disclosures” and say conclusions were reached on the basis of an inquiry which was procedurally unfair.Lawyers representing ministers and inquiry chairman Sasha Wass QC dispute their claim and say the litigation should not proceed.A judge was on Friday considering issues in the case at a High Court hearing in London.Barrister Neil Sheldon, who is leading a legal team representing Foreign Office ministers, asked the judge, Master Victoria McCloud, to halt the litigation and dismiss the claim launched by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama.The inquiry had been set up by ministers following corruption and cover-up allegations which had been raised in newspaper articles and leaked documents and made by Ms Gannon and Martin Warsama.An inquiry report published in December 2015 concluded that: St Helena did not “attract sex tourism”; said allegations that the island in the South Atlantic was a “paedophiles’ paradise” were not true; reported “no corruption at all”; and found no evidence of any attempt by the Foreign Office, the Department for International Development, the St Helena government or police to cover up child abuse.The report said: “We stress that there was no ‘cover-up’ as alleged by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, rather an ignorance of proper safeguarding procedure.”Nicholas Bowen QC, who represents Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, told the judge the conclusions of the Wass Inquiry “destroyed” the professional reputations of his clients.He said the inquiry process was “procedurally” unfair and said Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama were entitled to “just satisfaction” for their loss.Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama say their claim should not be dismissed but say evidence should be analysed at a trial.


StAnza’s 20th festival hailed a ‘huge success’

March 7 2017

Organisers of Scotland’s international poetry festival in St Andrews have hailed this year’s event as one of the most successful ever. The StAnza festival drew to a close at the weekend following five days of more than 100 events including performances, readings, music, drama, talks, workshops and a masterclass, open mic events, films, exhibitions and installations involving over 90 artists and thousands of visitors. And now that the 20th StAnza has been consigned to the history books, those behind the spectacular are already looking ahead to 2018’s programme. “StAnza 2017 was always going to be a huge year for us, being our 20th festival, so we’re absolutely thrilled it was such a wonderful success,” festival director Eleanor Livingstone said. “This year forms part of our StAnza 20:20 Vision project which marks our 20th festival in 2017 and our 20th anniversary next year. “We look forward to reflecting on the highlights of this festival before taking on the challenge of creating a programme for 2018 which will not only match, but exceed what we achieved this week to befit such an exciting milestone.” The festival was officially opened by StAnza's special guest, traditional Scottish singer Sheena Wellington, who performed at the very first StAnza back in 1998. Guests enjoyed readings by Aurella Lassaque and Sasha Dugdale as well as a performance by the St Andrews University Scholarship Brass Ensemble, while this year’s opening night performance was John Agard’s one-man show Roll Over Atlantic, a tale of the notorious New World Enterprise of Christopher Columbus re-imagined in verse and song. Among the highlights of this year’s programme were the Poetry Centre Stage events which featured some of the biggest names in the literary world including Costa Poetry Book prize winner Alice Oswald; Kathleen Jamie, winner of the Saltire Book of the Year award; T.S Eliot winner Sarah Howe; and Scotland’s Makar Jackie Kay. Such was the popularity of these events they were live streamed from the Byre Theatre’s Auditorium to increase capacity. Other big names to perform at StAnza included Vahni Capildeo, Patience Agbabi, Jim Carruth, Stephen Watt, A.B. Jackson, and Robert Crawford. Ms Livingstone described attendances at this year’s StAnza as “excellent”, confirming that many of the events had sold out well in advance of the festival opening. “While it’s too early to give exact visitor numbers we are confident we will have exceeded expectations, adding to the success of StAnza 2017,” she added. “This has been a fantastic festival and as ever we’re sad to be packing up for another year but delighted to be ending on such a high.” The festival is funded by Creative Scotland, EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate and Fife Council, with support from the University of St Andrews. Stuart Turner, head of EventScotland, praised all those involved. He concluded: “Scotland is the perfect stage for events, and Eleanor and the team should be congratulated on delivering another fantastic programme. “I know we are all looking forward to seeing the event develop in years to come.”


Poetry in motion on the catwalk in St Andrews

February 28 2013

A collaboration between two artists and a museum in the Netherlands has brought poetry to the catwalk. Stitched and Spoken features lace sensor dresses that speak when touched. The dresses are to be modelled and exhibited at StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival in St Andrews from March 6 -10. The dresses are part of the Lace Sensor Project, a collaboration between artists Anja Hertenberger and Meg Grant, working with the Museum de Kantfabriek in Limburg. Each dress is embroidered with a different poem, sourced from an antique embroidery sampler. The poems correspond to a gesture which triggers a recording of the poem, played through tiny speakers crocheted into each dress. The sensors are created from custom-made conductive lace. The harder they are pressed, the louder the poem will play.


21st anniversary programme announced for StAnza 2018 in St Andrews

November 29 2017

StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, has unveiled its line-up of talent for the 21st anniversary event in March. For five days and nights from March 7 St Andrews promises to come alive with outstanding poetry in all its forms. The annual festival will open with a special gala performance featuring readings and performances, intertwined with music, film and art. Among the headliners  appearing at next year's showpiece is Sinéad Morrissey, who recently won the prestigious Forward Prize for Poetry and is a former Belfast Poet Laureate and T.S. Eliot prize winner. She will be joined by former Scots Makar Liz Lochhead and Scottish poet and jazz musician Don Paterson, who will be in conversation with Marie-Elsa Bragg, daughter of Melvyn Bragg. Also on the programme for 2018 is Gillian Allnutt, who was awarded The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry earlier this year; Tara Bergin, winner of the Seamus Heaney First Collection Prize in 2014; and up-and-coming Scottish poet William Letford. Other names include Rachael Boast, who won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, Michael Symmons Roberts, a previous winner of the Forward Prize, the Costa Poetry Prize and the Whitbread Poetry Award, and the controversial prize-winning South Korean poet Ko Un. Festival director Eleanor Livingstone said: "We are thrilled to be launching the programme for StAnza 2018 which will be our 21st anniversary festival. “To mark this hugely exciting milestone we will be adding a few twists to the usual favourites on our programme. "StAnza 2018 will showcase some of the biggest names in the literary world alongside some of the newest and brightest talent to celebrate poetry in all its forms." More than 80 events including poetry, music, film and art — many of which are free — will be held in St Andrews across the five-day period. The festival traditionally focuses on two themes which interweave to give each event a unique flavour. Next year’s themes are ‘Borderlines’, which will examine how poetry can respond to, and engage with, a world connected through culture but divided on maps, while the second theme of ‘The Self’ will consider issues around the presence or absence of ‘The Self’ in poetry. Another highlight for 2018 will be a focus on languages of the Netherlands under the title Going Dutch. This will see Dutch, Flemish and Frisian speaking poets taking part along with other events with a Dutch connection. StAnza is supported by Creative Scotland and EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. Alan Bett, literature officer for Creative Scotland, said: “StAnza has firmly established itself as amongst Europe’s leading showcases of contemporary poetry, celebrating Scotland’s most acclaimed poets and emerging talent, performing alongside their international counterparts. “Scotland is a nation replete with literary talent and this year’s programme once again reflects this, offering a range of voices that includes William Letford, Liz Lochhead, Miriam Nash and Don Paterson.”

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