John was born in Aberdeen in 1936, and started piping in the Boys Brigade aged 10. He joined the Bucksburn band where he was first taught by Pipe Major Davie Duncan, before being introduced to Bob Brown, Balmoral. The rest, as they say, is history.
As John was laid to rest today I thought back on happy memories and great piping occasions. I first recall my father, Jimmy Anderson, telling me that when he was up North, at a ‘games’, he was lying in the sun, (probably in a fashionable string vest), listening to the solo piping when an unknown young piper came onto the boards. “I don’t know who that is playing but he is going to be a force to be reckoned with” Yes it was John MacDougall.
My second and probably favorite story about John is back in the early 70s when we all
headed up to Dingwall for a summer school. Donald MacPherson was the lead instructor and there were some great characters teaching, including Jimmy McGregor and of course John. Anyway the summer school was held in the local school and they were somewhat precious about the type of footwear that was to be worn in the gym hall. Absolutely no ghillie brogues was the decree. This was a bit of a problem as there were evening recitals by the instructors. Always up for a laugh John was not to be thwarted and on he went, in the full highland dress, wearing a pair of basketball shoes laced up with ghillie laces supplied by Colin (MacLellan). Up and down he strode. We, the kids, howled with delight.
I also recall being in John’s house at a wee party when he asked if I would like to feed the owl? Despite my suspicions I followed John into the bathroom. He opened the window and there was a huge owl perched in the garden tree. It was duly fed.
I have many memories of John playing round the games and coming down to Edinburgh to play at the Edinburgh City Police and Eagle Pipers’ Society contests. John was briefly in the police and played in the band for just over a year with my uncle Chris Anderson. When I told Chris about John’s passing he said, “You know John was in the police for a while? Too nice to be a policeman. A gentleman.”
Rest in peace John. The piping world will be a sadder place without you.