Funeral service at Rosskeen Free Church, Achnagarron, Invergordon at 1PM, Tuesday 26th January 2010, thereafter to Creich Cemetary, Bonar Bridge.
Alastair Rhind Funeral Directors
Iain was the first person I knew that actually owned a digital watch. In fact, it was the first time that I knew such things actually existed, That day, in 1979, there for all of us to wonder at was a glowing red LED display worn on a black – digital – watch, and we gathered around to view and marvel.
We, his 12 year old classmates, were standing in the classroom of Miss Young, our much liked teacher of Bridgend Primary School in Alness, a little town – some might say village – in the north of Scotland. Iain had other wonders too. There was the day he took in something called a portable audio cassette player, around about the same time, and fun was had – as I recall – with this amazing device that could record voices!
In the beginning …
Odd things stay in my mind. For no good reason, I remember Iain exclaiming to a group of friends in what must have been Primary 2, or 1973, that he felt he should have a nickname. He must have been no more than 7 years old. For a brief time, he called himself “Ding Dong”, but that may have been a period of only days – it’s too long past to tell for sure but very quickly afterwards there appeared “Dinger”, and there it stayed.
Iain’s humour – was him. Imagine if you went to school with Muhammed Ali. Well, I did! At least, growing up in the 70’s the person who Dinger most reminded me of at times was Muhammed Ali. Larger than life, always quick to laugh, and with Dinger often as star of his own life – which I say with a smile. Who can forget his great singing skills, such his rendition of “Wings of a Dove”
"Oh, for the wings, for the wings of a … DOVE"
- the first line sung in a beautiful, poetic, choir style and the last word thundered out three octaves lower. Iain found this incredibly funny, and some 30 years later, I admit that I still do.
Iain was my classmate for much, if not all, of those 7 years in Bridgend Primary and my 5 years in Alness Academy. Undoubtedly the best years of Primary School were the final two, P6 and P7, in which we stayed in the same classroom to be taught by Miss Young. In 1977 the James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me” was released. I have vivid memories of everyone in our class who could get hold of one playing with the fantastic car from that film! That, and plentiful games of Wildman (couresty of our friend Norman, inpired by The Incredible Hulk) and Machine Gun-Knife, inspired by … well, World War Two. "Wildman" would often be the focal point of both games, oh Norman how we had fun in those days!
March 1979 - The School trip to Edinburgh
It was traditional for the school to organise a trip to Edinburgh for all pupils in Primary 7. The cost, as I remember it, was £29.00. We travelled down by train from Alness to Edinburgh Waverley station, then on to the Arden Hotel on Royal Terrace. I shared room with James, Dinger and Ryan. I remember the excitment of entering the room first to find bunk beds! The mad scrambling up to the top bunk, though I managed to get barely an inch off the ground before Dinger pulled me back down to claim that bunk as his. There was never any resentment at this, this was the way it was in the world of 12 year old boys - and Dinger especially.
That night, I remember watching Dinger repeat this immensely funny act: he’d lean over, look down at James in the bunk below and distainfully spit on him, to howls of protest from James and howls of laughter from Dinger! Not serious spitting of course, just comedy spitting – more noise than anything – Iain was well raised but it drove James so mad. Dinger would wait … just until James got comfortable again … then lean over and spit on him again to howls of protest from James and howls of laughter from Dinger. Even now it makes me laugh! He then took to throwing sweet wrappers down on James. As night fell, so Ryan in the single bed by the window fell asleep inside. Oh big mistake. Iain and I ever so gently decorated Ryan’s face with toothpaste – and still he slept! More and more toothpaste was piled on until Iain eventually resorted to throwing pillows at Ryan to wake him up, we were laughing ourselves silly!
I remember, too, that on that trip Iain’s family were in Edinburgh and took him to see the new movie Battlestar Galactica. Had the Cylons really ever found Earth, Balthazar would no doubt have been quickly replaced - by Dinger. I also remember we had fun tapping on the door of the Irish school kids next door who were also staying, then darting back in our room and hiding, listening to their (then) strange accents as they wondered what was going on while we fell about laughing at our mischief. Hey we were 12!
Strict instructions were also given by our teachers when visiting Edinburgh Castle not to take any of the rock as a souvenir. These instructions fell upon slightly deaf ears in Iain’s case. I recall a story that Iain wrote in Primary 7 which he was asked to read to the class, the only part of which sticks in my mind is the words –
“…B.O.C – the Big Oil Company”
– a pun, and also prophetically perhaps given his future career!
The Academy Years
After 7 wonderful years in Bridgend we had to grow up and attend Alness Academy. Once again, Dinger again was in practically – if not every – class of mine. My least favourite class, to put it mildly, was PE (Physical Education). Dinger would never pick me for his football teams - very wisely so - making big fuss that he had to do so on occasion because there was no-one else to pick. But this was Dinger.
To mention PE and Dinger in the same breath is to conjure up the most remarkable image – that of Iain running style! As anyone who ever knew him will attest, he had the most remarkable running style, and it seemed that both feet would shoot out sideways, performing little circles of their own. Still he was fast!
Dinger, I believe, did everything for humour, for the entertainment of him doing it. Once, around about 1983 in a discussion on book reviews, our English teacher Mrs Isobel Porter explained that leeway was available for anyone reading a book of significant length. Without a seconds pause there shot up Iain’s hand as he exclaimed (barely able to speak the words for laughing) –
“Please Miss! I’m reading “War and Peace” – how about 1999?”
following by riotous laughter, both from Iain and the class. Even our teacher, who wasn’t light with discipline, had to smile.
The Last Time We Met
The last time I saw him, we had accidentally crossed paths in Edinburgh when I was at University. He seemed very pleased to see me, and I certainly was to see him. Grown up, having left school some 5 years earlier, this was around the year 1990 and at the junction of East Preston Street and Oxford Street. Long since lost is the memory of what we spoke about, but my recollection remains one of genuine and mutual happiness to have met once again.
Of January 26th 2010
Iain was buried in Creich Buriel ground, just east of Bonar Bridge, Sutherland, Ross-shire on January 26th 2010, a little after 3pm. It is a beautiful part of Scotland, the view over the Dornoch Firth being known locally as the Million Dollar view. It's a small cemetary, he's not hard to find.
It was only yesterday that we were all having fun in school. It would be wonderful to be able to say – “THANKS! For being in my class all those years and making the day a funnier place”. I wish I could.
Iain Ross "Dinger" Dingwall.
Lived: a great life, as far as I can tell.
Died: Far too soon, aged 42 years, on Friday January 8th 2010, Houston, Texas.