Stars line-up for Homecoming advert

by Karrie Gillett

AN ADVERT starring Sir Sean Connery and Olymipic hero Chris Hoy has been launched to promote Scotland’s year of Homecoming 2009.

The 60-second film sees singing stars such as Sandi Thom and Lulu joining golf legend Sam Torrance and Scotland rugby players.

The advert – which is being screened from Friday November 28 – will be broadcast during prime-time TV shows such as X factor and Coronation Street as well as in cinemas and on websites.

Ten celebs are shown at sites across Scotland singing a line from Dougie MacLean’s well-known anthem Caledonia.

But Bond superstar Connery – who is pictured with a backdrop of Edinburgh – speaks his part in the advert.

First Minister Alex Salmond was at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh for the first screeing of the advert which is designed to encourage people living in Scotland to invite friends and family from all round the world to “come home”.

Mr Salmond said: “It’s time we took pride in our country and realised what we have to offer in the year of the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth.

“Caledonia is a song which resonates with Scots the world over. For those far away it is a reminder of strong bonds, full of the promise of return.”

The celebrities appearing are singer Amy Macdonald with a scene of Glencoe behind her; Chris Hoy at Glasgow Science Centre; Brian Cox on Orkney; Sam Torrance at Turnberrry; singer Eddi Reader at the Robert Burns Statue in Dumfries; Scotland Rugby players Kelly Brown and Thom Evans at Strathisla Distillery in Speyside; Sandi Thom at Far Beach in Sutherland; Sir Sean Connery in Edinburgh and Lulu at Castle Starker in Argyll.

Singer and actress Shirley Manson Grieves Over Mum’s Death

Shirley Manson

By Alexander Lawrie

SCOTS rocker Shirley Manson is grieving today after the sudden death of her “beloved” mother.

Muriel Manson passed away peacefully on Wednesday evening at her Edinburgh home after a long illness.

The Garbage star is rushing from her Los Angeles home to comfort her devastated father John.

The recently engaged music star has been inundated with support from fans after revealing the news on her Facebook site.

Her short online message said: “My beloved mother died today from complications arising from dementia.

“I just wanted you to know because anyone who has ever been touched by me and my band and our music has in part been touched by my mum.”

At the family home yesterday (Thu) Shirley’s dad John looked physically drained as he spoke of his wife’s passing.

He said: “The family are all devastated about Muriel’s passing. It happened around 8pm on Wednesday evening at home and it was very peaceful.

“I’ve spoken to Shirley and she is flying into Scotland from the States late tonight. Her sister is also coming up from London to be with me.

“We knew she had been ill for a while and knew it was a matter of weeks or months rather than years.”

Miss Manson, 42, has an older sister Lindy-Jane, and a younger sister Sarah who are also thought to be making their way to the family home in Edinburgh.

Fans have left hundreds of messages of support on the star’s Facebook page after the Happy When It Rains singer announced her mother’s passing.

One simply reads: “So sorry about your loss. My thoughts are with you at this horrible time, but you’re a strong person and I know you’ll soldier through this. Take lots of care.”

And another fan wrote: “My thoughts are with you Shirl. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, but don’t worry; she’s now watching you from above and will be taking care of you forever.”

Shirley Manson

The news comes just weeks after Miss Manson announced her engagement to Billy Bush, a sound engineer who has worked with Garbage.

It will be the singer-turned-actress’s second marriage after she wed sculptor Eddie Farrell in 1995. The pair split in 2003 and were eventually divorced in 2005.

The star has sold over 14 million albums with her band Garbage and was last month voted Most Stylish Female at the Scottish Style Awards 2008.

She was recently cast in her acting debut in the hit TV show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles where she plays a new type of terminator.

The Stupid Girl singer has cited actress Glenn Close and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as influences on her portrayal of the android character.

Two years ago she fronted a documentary entitled Cut: Teens And Self-Injury, and spoke of her teenage problems with self-harming when she would cut her legs with a razor whenever she experienced anxiety and depression.

She admitted it was an early involvement in theatre that helped halt her self-harming tendencies.


Thugs Attack Baby Memorial

Baby memorial vandal

By Alexander Lawrie

HEARTLESS vandals have desecrated a babies’ memorial in a “deplorable” attack.

Thugs smashed commemorative vases and ripped a statue of a baby from its plinth before discarding it nearby leaving grieving parents “devastated”.

The baby garden at Dunfermline Crematorium in Fife is a special area reserved for families to remember their infants.

And heartbroken parents have now cancelled plans to decorate the garden area with Christmas decorations fearing the vandals will return.

The baby memorial was set up by the SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Deaths) charity in 2005.

Attacked twice last weekend, the memorial garden was targeted again on Wednesday evening when the callous yobs smashed another baby statue to pieces.

Jo-Anna Fraser, Fife co-ordinator for SANDS, said: “A local couple, whose son died a year ago, were at the baby garden last week to mark their child’s anniversary and they saw the statue was missing.

“Some people had given them flowers to place in the garden, but when the couple returned these items were also missing.

“They have been left devastated by this happening at what was a very difficult time for them.

“As parents we have very little to remember our children by and that is why the baby garden is so important.

“It is some recognition that our babies existed.

“We had planned to put up some Christmas decorations but it probably won’t happen now because it would too upsetting if they were vandalised.”

Baby memorial vandal

William Greig, a Bereavement Services Officer at the crematorium, admitted it was the first case of vandalism he had heard about at the crematorium in over ten years.

He also revealed the £600 SANDS statue of the baby in an open palm was still missing.

He said: “It is incredibly rare for this to happen, but nonetheless it is a totally abhorrent action.

“I can’t stress enough how badly we feel about the vandalism. It’s not the cost of the statue that bothers us, but it’s the cost to the families who discovered the mess.

“I’m in touch with the police to see if they can arrange for the community police to make extra visits to the area at night.”

Robert Baker, Temporary Superintendent of Fife Police, said: “To commit such a crime in an area which has such great meaning is an absolutely deplorable act.

“Those responsible should be ashamed of themselves and their actions.

“I would ask anyone who knows who committed these acts to contact police.”

In a separate incident another Fife family were left distraught when a memorial to their late mother was set on fire.

A Rosyth family visited the crematorium last Sunday to pay their respects, but were left in tears when they discovered cards, flowers and vases had been set on fire.

Alyson Gardner said: “I was just so grateful it wasn’t my dad whi had gone up, butv the worse thing was having to tell him what had happened as I knew how much it would upset him.

“I don’t know what kind of idiots would do something like this and how they’ve been brought up.”

Scots Nurse Hoping To Be Crowned High St Honey

Kirsty McDaid

By Alexander Lawrie

BY DAY she helps to save lives in one of Scotland’s busiest hospitals – and by night she strips off to further her career as a glamour model.

Sexy nurse Kirsty McDaid will certainly be raising men’s blood pressure throughout the UK as she bids to be crowned FHM’s High Street Honey.

The lad’s mag is currently looking for a new glamour star and the Scots nurse has been tipped as a possible winner.

Kirsty, 22, from Lochgelly in Fife, has made the top 100 list of lovelies, and with the voting closing tonight (Thu) the stunner is looking for all the support she can get.

And she has revealed she is so popular at the hospital where she works that some of the admiring doctors have taken to putting her image on their phones.

Currently working as a phlebotomist at Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline, Kirsty says she is just looking “to make Fife proud” of her.

She said: “Yes. It’s true some of the doctors have put my photo on their phone, but it’s all just a bit of fun. I’m quite flattered by the attention, really.

“I didn’t know much about the competition before but I’m pleased to take part.”

The mum-of-one was entered into the competition by a close friend who sent saucy pictures of her to FHM.

She then received a phone call and headed down to Manchester for a filmed interview.

The Scots stunner now faces a public vote to see if she can break into the top 10.

A further vote will decide the ultimate High Street Honey who will receive prize money of £10,000, a chance to appear on the front cover on FHM and an opportunity to audition to become a TV presenter.

She said: “I need as many votes as I can get. I’m a down to earth girl-next-door type, and really want to make Fife proud.”

Rod Stewart’s Son Battles Drug Addiction

By Alexander Lawrie

ROD Stewart’s wild child son Sean has admitted he literally beat himself up – just so he could get easy access to drugs.

The reforming hellraiser was so desperate to get high he went to extreme lengths to feed his addiction to painkillers.

Stewart is now attempting to clean up his act by appearing on the US reality television show Celebrity Rehab.

The 28 year-old actor also recently dished the dirt on the party lifestyle in Hollywood to an American magazine by claiming he has seen some crazy sights while high on drugs.

His addiction took complete hold of his life, but Stewart says he has now been clean for the past nine months.

His revelations about how bad his drug cravings were stunned his fellow contestants on the hit TV show.

He confessed: “This is really embarrassing, but I beat myself up to go to the hospital so I could get Vicodin.

“I just started punching myself and hitting my face against the wall.

 “Once, I walked into a club and people threw their cocaine in the air.

“Another time, I was at a huge house party in the (Beverley) Hills and a very famous sports star was standing in the corner smoking crack. I was completely surprised.

“A lot of people use drugs because they’re under pressure. If you come from money, you don’t know who to trust or who is using you. It can be hard.”

 Stewart is also facing legal action from his personal trainer over accusations he failed to pay his bill.

Xavier Dezlie claims he trained the rocker’s son, but hasn’t been paid for four months of exercise tuition.

Dezlie is appealing for $3,857 (£2,571) in lost earnings in the suit filed in America’s Small Claims court.

The case comes just days after the rocker’s son settled another lawsuit out of court after being accused of breaking a man’s nose in a nightclub bust-up.

Daniel Refoua filed the suit after claiming his nose was broken when Stewart, along with a group of men, allegedly attacked him outside Hollywood’s LAX nightclub in 2006.

Stewart’s rock legend father was also dragged into the case after Refoua filed papers citing the elder Stewart as a defendant.

But the case was dismissed by a Los Angeles court last Tuesday (18/11/08) after the two parties settled out of court.

Inspector Rebus author Ian Rankin injured – while hanging out his laundry

Ian Rankin opens MUSA

By Alexander Lawrie

REBUS author Ian Rankin has been suffering excruciating back pain – after pulling a muscle while hanging out his washing.

The Scots writer was proving his ‘new man’ credentials by helping to hang out his smalls out at his Edinburgh home on Saturday.

But just as he bent down to hang the last of his clothes, he felt his back go.

The award-winning novelist is now off to his doctors to help cure the excruciating pain.

Rankin has also expressed his reservations over the new Burke and Hare movie to be filmed in Edinburgh next year.

The film, starring Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell, is rumoured to be a comedy based on the lives of Scotland’s most famous serial killers.

The Scots author could be seen visibly wincing while opening the new £2 million St Andrews University Museum on Tuesday

When asked to bend down and pose beside two life masks of the infamous grave robbers, Burke and Hare, by the assembled photo pack, the Fife-born writer complained of suffering back pain.

He later revealed his injury was caused by doing his domestic chores.

He said: “Yes, I’ve done my back in. Boringly, though, I did it by picking up some washing at home, nothing exciting at all.

“I’m planning on going to the doctor this week because the pain is almost unbearable.

“I just couldn’t bend down when the photographers asked me to.”

The best-selling crime author also revealed he hasn’t been asked to participate in the planned movie of the Burke and Hare story to be filmed in the capital early next year.

His novel The Falls is based on the 17 tiny wooden coffins found on an Edinburgh hillside which are rumoured to have been buried in memory of Burke and Hare’s victims.

But he did express doubts over the planned format of the film starring Trainspotting actor Ewan McGregor.

He said: “Like the majority of people I just read about it in the newspapers at the weekend.

“But I was interested in the fact they seem to be doing it as a comedy. One of the rumours about it is that will be comedic and I’m not really sure about that.

“But I will be fascinated to see what comes out of it.”

It has been reported Ealing Studios are to begin shooting the movie in Edinburgh in March next year.

Crafty investments are ‘safer than the banks’

By Michael MacLeod

ART lovers have laughed off the credit crunch blues by spending millions in one weekend.

An east versus west battle of the art events saw the organisers of Edinburgh’s annual Art Fair racing home with more cash this weekend than ever before.

But Glasgow auctioneers McTear’s only sold 25 per-cent of the work they had on sale, most of which went at knock-down prices.

They blamed the credit crunch hitting art lovers’ pockets, but their Edinburgh counterparts said it HELPED them make around £2 million.

A plethora of artworks including paintings, sculpture, ceramics and glassware from £100 to £50,000 were among those snapped up at the Edinburgh Art Fair the weekend.

Organiser Andrew Naysmith said: “We were genuinely concerned that the economy was going to have a negative impact and that we would be down on the £1.5 million the fair generated last year.

“If the galleries hadn’t come because they feared people weren’t going to spend, then there simply would not have even been an art fair.

“But I’m delighted to say it’s been an overwhelming success.

“People see art as a far more sound and rewarding investment than a bank fund.”

Edinburgh’s contrast with the picture in Glasgow at the weekend was stark enough to leave even Peter Howson shaking in his boots.

Hundreds of paintings worth over £1.5 million were on sale at knock down prices at the country’s largest ever auction of contemporary art.

But three quarters of the 450 works on sale at McTear’s failed to attract new homes.

Director Brian Clements said: “Had we held this just two months earlier I think we would have seen quite a few more paintings sell.

“But the financial situation means that in the past few weeks the market has plummeted.

“Everything is affected by the credit crunch – I mean all you have to do is look at the pre- Christmas sales to get the picture.”

While Clements blamed the credit crunch for the auction’s failure, Edinburgh Art Fair’s organiser embraced it.

He said people were buying art to distract from the “doom and gloom of everyday life.”

He added: “We seemed to have bucked the trend of the weekend the Glasgow auction had.

“I think people need a bit of colour in their lives and that’s exactly why we’ve had a super weekend for sales.

“I’ve found it fascinating looking at what people are walking out the door with – most of it is brightly coloured work.

“You could say they want to take their minds off the credit crunch and the doom and gloom of every day life.

“It’s nice to have something positive to say about sales, and I’m delighted for the galleries and exhibiters who were selling through us as much as I am for the people whose walls and lives are now all the more brighter.”

Kitten left to die in blazing flat

By Paul Thornton

A CALLOUS yob has been jailed after he left a kitten to burn to death in his higRodney Wrighth rise flat.

Rodney Wright, 36, was high on coke and booze when he torched his Edinburgh flat following a bust-up with his girlfriend.

Before fleeing the blazing building he wrapped a kitten in a towel and left it under a sofa he had set on fire to be killed by the flames.

Firefighters who were called to towering inferno saved the shaken moggie, as well as hundreds of neighbours who selfish Wright put at risk.

Wright was jailed for 20 months at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Once released Wright will be supervised for a further 10 months and could be jailed if he steps out of line.

Fiscal depute Aidan Higgins told the court how Wright’s flat was in a 68-home council high-rise in Edinburgh’s Calder area housing approximately 160 residents.

On the day of the blaze Wright had been visited by an ex-girlfriend who said that everything seemed fine.

But later in the afternoon she exchanged text messages with Wright, who was threatening to harm himself and she became worried about his state of mind.

Just hours later neighbours heard banging and crashing as Wright trashed his home and lit two fires.

CCTV then captured him as he left Dunsyre House North in Calder Crescent carrying a black hold-all.

GV North Dynstyre House


The fire brigade received a 999 call and found the flat ablaze from two separate fires.

They found the terrified cat wrapped in a towel under a couch which had been set alight by Wright and called in police.

Wright returned home and told police that he had been camping and knew nothing of the blaze.

But he later admitted that he had got drunk on £45 worth of booze and had set the fires because he was struggling to cope with the break-up of his relationship with his ex.

He claimed he had left the door open to allow the cats to escape. It is thought that other cats, which he also kept as pets, had already fled the fire.

Sheriff Derrick McIntyre blasted: “This was a very serious offence, willful fire raising in a high rise block of, you were on the seventh floor and there were 138 people in the building at the time.

“The back ground is that you were high on cocaine and drink, you have to serve a custodial sentence as this is far too serious to be dealt with in any other way.”

Puppy dog eyes to melt cold criminals

03 Police puppy dog Fern with police hat


By Michael MacLeod

MEET Fern, the police pooch armed with huge eyes big enough to melt the hearts of even the coldest criminals.

At just eight weeks old, the sweet little Spaniel is Tayside Police’s newest recruit.

The four-legged law enforcer will be trained to help investigators sniff out poisons and detect criminals’ hidden cash.

She was gifted to cops by a breeder in Jedburgh, who singled her out for her nifty nose.

Fern is now settling into her new life with her handler Constable Ron Anderson, who is also the Force’s dog training instructor.

Ron said: “Fern is only eight weeks old so at the moment it’s about familiarisation and socialisation, getting her used to different places and meeting new people.

“While she definitely has the ‘cuteness’ factor at the moment, she is no different to any other police dog.

“All of our dogs are a vital resource when it comes to preventing and detecting crime, whilst at the same time maintaining public order.”

Tayside Police already have specialist dogs trained to sniff out everything from drugs and explosives to firearms and cash.

But Fern’s career will be as the force’s first ever poisons dog.

Ron added: “Among other things, she will be deployed alongside wildlife officers, sniffing our where poisonous substances have been illegally used.

“She will also be trained to sniff out cash and will play a role in helping officers locate money during searches of vehicles, people, and properties.”

Karate champ Calum’s Japan joy

By Michael MacLeod

SCOTLAND’S top karate star is home with a bronze medal from the world’s toughest fighting competition in Japan.

But unlike his foreign competitors whose countries gifted them houses and cars for taking part, Calum Robb, 23, came crashing down to earth by going back to university the next day.

The eleven-time Scottish champion and six-time reigning British title-holder says he’s “desperate” for ‘all-styles’ Karate to be accepted as an Olympic sport so he can fight for his country.

Nobody had ever brought home a medal for Scotland in the World All Styles Karate Championships since the late 1970s.

The Herriot Watt PHD student represented the country with six other Scots – all amateur status – but most of his opponents were professionals.

But Calum hopes his success in Tokyo last week can be built on with all-important funding he says the sport needs.

He said: “Despite the fact that Karate is probably something like the third most participated sport in the country, there is just very little money pumped into it.

“There is a big difference between Karate in Scotland and Karate in other countries.

“The Turkish competitors for example were given a car, a house and 100,000 Euros for doing well. Me on the other hand – I was back at university the day after the tournament.

“But I don’t really care about the money anyway; I mean if it was there I would take it! What a bonus. But at the moment it’s enough for me to do it for my country.”

The Haddington fighter first leapt into Karate aged eight, then began competing at a club in Edinburgh aged 11.

Now he trains for 12 hours on a quiet week – more if there’s a tournament on the horizon – all in between his university studies.

The Team GB squad disbanded in the 1970s, and Calum admits there is “a temptation to hit a bit harder if your opponent is English.”

But England is where he wants to be in 2012, when the Olympics rolls into London.

He said: “I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the IOC will make the decision next year to bring Karate to the Olympics.

“Not only will it open doors for me, but it will raise the profile of the sport and open doors for younger kids who are interested too. We have a lot of brilliant juniors coming up.

“I’m desperate for it to be included in 2012, and to be able to go down to London with a team of other Scots and do our country proud would be the biggest honour.

“There is a bit of rivalry at the moment between Scotland and England just like in football. But this is an actual fight – and a temptation to hit a bit harder if your opponent is English.

“But that’s how it is because of history. It’s light-hearted, and there are rules about that kind of thing. So it’s just playful, nothing serious.”