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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...

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.

Business news

Dundee actress returns for Jackie The Musical role

April 25 2013

A Dundee-born actress is returning to her home town next month to take on the title role of Jackie The Musical. Lisa Lynch will play young Jackie when the show comes to the Gardyne Theatre for a two-week workshop. The 24-year-old actress yesterday told of her excitement at her first performance in Scotland since graduating from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. “I’ve done a lot of stuff in London and UK tours but since I’ve been professionally trained there’s not be an opportunity for me to come home,” she said. “It starts with a two-week workshop on May 21 and on the last Friday and Saturday we are doing performances for invited audiences.” Jackie Magazine the DC Thomson stalwart will come alive in the new musical featuring a pick of 70s pop tunes. All the old favourite features will be showcased from how to make your own eyeshadow to the photo-love story and the all-important answer to one of teenage girls’ most troublesome questions are love bites dangerous? Lisa plays young Jackie and there will also be an older Jackie in her 50s. “She’s going through a divorce and has flashbacks when I show her life, what she was like,” Lisa said. “We do scenes together and I’m saying ‘Go on, get out there, live your life.’” Lisa is a product of the local theatre scene, starting out at Rhythm, the theatre group in Monifieth, when she was just six before heading to Tread the Boards and the Thomson Leng Musical Society. “We did Les Miserables there and I got asked to audition for the West End version,” she said. “I went to the Dance School of Scotland in Glasgow in the musical theatre course and I boarded there for my last two years of high school. From there I auditioned for top London schools and went to Mountview.” Lisa graduated with a first class honours degree in 2010. Her roles in college included Maria in West Side Story and Maggie in A Chorus line. She was a finalist in the Sondheim performer of the year awards while studying. Lisa played Marjorie in The Day Before Spring at Sadler’s Wells and she toured the UK in Bugle Boy, the story of Glenn Miller’s life. But it was an article that brought her back to Dundee. She said: “My dad works at DC Thomson. He had seen the article in the paper and sent me it. I wrote to the director and had an audition.” Jackie The Musical is sponsored by The Courier and will run in August at the Gardyne Theatre.

Perth & Kinross

Helping hand for young actors from business sponsorship deal

May 20 2016

Horsecross Arts and Keepsafe Storage Centres have wrapped up a sponsorship deal which will see the local storage business support Perth Youth Theatre (PYT) in its 50th anniversary year. Scotland’s oldest dedicated youth theatre, PYT is a thriving company giving young people aged from four to 18 an all-round theatrical experience through weekly workshops and performance opportunities. PYT alumni include Ewan McGregor and Colin McCredie.


Take a horror tour of city

May 18 2013

A NEW free horror game is using sound to unleash a dark, hidden adventure on the streets of Dundee. Other has been developed for the iPhone by the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) and independent games development studio Quartic Llama. The NTS’ first ever game will lead the player on a sinister journey through the streets of real-life Dundee. Other is inspired by Let the Right One In, a stage adaptation by Jack Thorne based on the Swedish novel and film by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Let the Right One In comes to Dundee Rep next month. Other creative director Philippa Tomlin said: “We’re really excited to be working on a project supporting Let the Right One In. “It’s such a wonderfully dark and beautiful story and this has inspired our stories for the Other game. “We’ve met and worked with some brilliantly creative people along the way and that, combined with Dundee’s atmosphere and all its rich layers of history, make it the perfect setting for this game.” The game has been created through a project involving writing groups and noise workshops across Dundee. The workshops included the Eh! Write community writing group and St John’s RC High School. Starting at Dundee Rep Theatre, the player follows the route through the city, uncovering hidden stories and buried secrets by finding locations and solving puzzles. As the journey develops, a fictional, darker side of Dundee is discovered, with the possibility of horror around every corner. Other has also been a wider project, which has included a 48-hour short film challenge entitled Two Days of Darkness, a games jam which invited Abertay University students and St John’s High School pupils to design a new horror game and online scrapbook. The game will be launched with live theatre events and tours of the route, bringing an even darker side of Dundee to life. Quartic Llama’s support of National Theatre of Scotland’s Other project has received a New Arts Sponsorship Grant of £5,000 from Arts and Business Scotland. Other is available to download from May 31. ksmyth@thecourier.co.uk

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

Readers' letters

Theatre closure is no different to any other business having to shut down

February 1 2013

Sir, I can’t for the life of me understand the outpouring of anger and human emotion because a theatre is closing down in St Andrews. I’m afraid it’s no different from my part of the Kingdom where businesses close down weekly and jobs are lost. The Byre Theatre has been subsidised for years between council funding and Lottery grants (big sums of money I may add). The questions to be asked is: was it due to mismanagement, or failing to put bums on seats? If the latter, all I would say is I am a regular patron of the Rothes Halls and the Adam Smith Centre where they put on excellent entertainment for all ages. Maybe they should have looked west for some guidance to see what the paying public want. All you ever saw in the Byre Theatre on a regular basis was “arty farty” produce. They should have been a bit more considerate towards the weekend spenders who are the 18 to 30-year-olds, looking for good live music. If there was a live band at the Rothes Halls and a recital of William Shakespeare at the Byre Theatre, I know which would be the busiest. But, there again, that’s only my opinion but true. Thomas Bryce. 126 Kirke Park, Methilhill, Leven. Arts should be self-financing Sir, Why should the so-called arts be subsidised? If people wanted them they would be self-financing. Why should a minority of opera lovers, etc, expect the rest of us to pay for their entertainment? If a theatre is empty the management is not producing what the public want. Bums on seats pay for the running of the theatre, subsidising empty theatres by putting on shows that no one but a minority want to see is economic suicide. Four hundred years ago Shakespeare was entertainment for the London masses but these days how many people go to a Shakespeare play just to be seen and not really to see the play? John George Phimister. 63 St Clair Street, Kirkcaldy. University could help theatre Sir, Recent articles in the press on the shock closure of the Byre Theatre in St Andrews ignored a significant factor both in the closure of this cultural asset and in its possible resurgence. The University of St Andrews seems to have taken very little interest in the development and the success of the main cultural asset of the town. Apart from a puny contribution at the time of the major refurbishment of the theatre, I am not aware of any involvement at a senior management level with the Byre Theatre. Various members of the university, of course, have contributed to the Byre Theatre, but in a personal capacity. If the university interpreted its mission statement more in line with its 600-year history and in a less strictly commercial way, I am sure it could find ways and means to help resurrect the Byre Theatre. A very simple solution would be a mere re-allocation of the subsidy that the university currently provides to the Church of Scotland by funding fully its Chaplaincy (no such subsidy is extended to any other church or religious group). For the last three years the university has funded this Church of Scotland venture to the tune of £407,405.11. Would it be too much to ask the university to put the Church of Scotland on par with other religions, remove this outrageous subsidy, and use some of it to enrich the cultural life of all its students and staff as well as of the whole population of St Andrews by saving the Byre Theatre? Surely such an enlightened policy would contribute to the celebration of its 600th anniversary at least as much as its recent ventures into the purchase of paper mills and the development of wind farms. Dr Manfredi La Manna. Reader in Economics, University of St Andrews. Laughing all way to booths Sir, The Scottish and proposed Irish windfarms must have the Westminster Conservative government laughing all the way to the election booths, for there are no Tory votes in Ireland and few in Scotland. Despite the blizzard of pro-renewable statistics from our energy ministers, all Scottish renewables together produce little over 4% of the UK’s total electricity demand. To meet the EU’s proposed renewables quota we need many times our existing number of onshore wind- farms; offshore being simply too expensive. The Scottish Government is evidently willing to sacrifice the Scottish landscape to wind power and keep the growing English anti-wind lobby happy. Futhermore, some southern owners of Scottish shooting estates will even benefit from the subsidies. Stephen Grieve. 60 Nethergate, Crail. A “must see” Sir, Congratulations for the clever juxtaposition of Dudley Treffry’s delightful article about Bob Servant and George K McMillan’s scornful view of the programme (January 28). I knew nothing about Bob Servant until I read Mr McMillan’s letter and I have to say that it made me want to view it. Once I digested Dudley Treffry’s excellent piece of writing my mind was made up. I must give it a go. My thanks to Mr McMillan for the information that the show is screened on BBC4 on Wednesdays. Magnus Wylie. 14 Gannochy Walk, Perth. Will be involved Sir The announcement that a “few hundred” British troops are to be deployed to Mali on the understanding “they will not be involved” in operations, requires, in my opinion, closer inspection. This is not how the insurgents will see it. If British troops are attacked they will be obliged to defend themselves; ie - become involved. A T Geddie. 68 Carleton Avenue, Glenrothes.

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.


Exchange groups perform ‘Scottish play’

April 13 2010

A group of French youngsters will take to the stage of Perth Theatre this week as part of an exchange visit. The group, aged 15 to 18, from theatre company Theatre du Sycomore from Tournon-sur-Rhone will perform a Macbeth-themed double bill with Perth Youth Theatre senior company. Short, sharp and dynamic, the two new productions inspired by Shakespeare's "Scottish play" take place tonight and tomorrow. The performances form the highlight of the French group's seven-day visit to the Fair City as part of the theatre exchange project Bard Without Boundaries. Funded by the Lefevre Trust, with support from Perth and Kinross Council's common good fund, PYT seniors took their production of True, based on Shakespeare's Othello, to Tournon's Shakespeare Festival on the first leg of the project last summer. The 14 young people from Theatre du Sycomore will spend the week with 20 members of PYT and will participate in workshops and rehearsals with them. During their stay, the visitors will have the chance to sample Scottish hospitality and local cuisine including fish suppers and haggis. On the Bard Without Boundaries exchange project, Jennie McGregor, associate director of Perth Youth Theatre at Horsecross Arts, said, "Our group had a fantastic welcome on our trip to France last year... when one of the highlights was performing in a courtyard to 100, to a standing ovation. "We are looking forward to the people of Perth extending the same hospitality to our French visitors and we expect it to be an amazing week. "The performances are a highlight, but the real aim of the project is to break down barriers between the two groups of young people, to share info about each other's culture and theatre-making."

Perth & Kinross

Revamp of Perth Theatre still on track

December 3 2014

Plans to revamp Perth Theatre are still on track despite a delay in work starting on site. Builders were due to begin redeveloping the building this month but work will not now start until next year as the plans are reviewed to ensure they comply with the projected budget of £15 million. Colin McMahon, chief executive of Horsecross, said that while it might look “as if nothing is happening” on site, a “huge amount” of work has been going on behind the scenes. “The designs are being reviewed in detail to make sure the new building will deliver everything which audiences, performers and artists expect of a 21st Century theatre and remains within budget,” he said. “Perth Theatre remains the lynchpin of Perth and Kinross Council’s ambitious plans to regenerate the city centre in particular, its plans for Mill Street.” He continued: “Creative Scotland confirmed a couple of weeks ago that £2m capital funding is guaranteed for Perth Theatre, which means there is already £13.5m pledged. Our public and private fundraising campaign is on course to raise the additional £1.5m.” Mr McMahon said that the theatre is offering a “wide-ranging” drama programme while the building is closed. This will include the traditional family panto Sleeping Beauty, which will open at Perth Concert Hall on Thursday December 11 and will end its run on Friday December 26. The end result of the refurbishment will be worth waiting for, he stressed. “Perth Theatre has a long history of artistic innovation and excellence, having been at the heart of cultural life in Perth for over a century,” Mr McMahon continued. “The transformation of the theatre will restore and redevelop one of Scotland’s oldest and best loved theatres for generations to come. The B-listed Edwardian auditorium will be restored to its former glory and a new 225-seat studio theatre will be created. “The newly transformed venue will have increased workshop spaces for creative learning and community projects, including the thriving Perth Youth Theatre, and there will be improved access and facilities for audiences and visitors.”