IF you want to know about Roger Lloyd Pack, his warmth and the warm bond he formed with people here in Camden, then please, please read my colleague Dan Carrier’s soulful piece about their friendship on the New Journal’s website and in the Independent today. A fellow Spur and more than a good companion, he had been at Dan’s birthday at the Dublin Castle last year, joining the party despite his irritation that people passing through that crowded music pub would stop to ask: Was that Trigger over there? I love the line about the broom.
That was one of the first things you learned in the newsroom here, when his name came up. That he hated being thought of simply by his character in Only Fools And Horses. However popular Trig had been. That, and that he did not have a hyphen in his name, an error we made with an appalling regularity to his justified frustration.
What was true was that he was, as should have been blindingly obvious even to anybody who only glances at the local press, more than just Trigger, and more than a man simply defined by his profession, as finely skilled as he was at his trade. Away from the cameras and the stage, he consistently found himself in the role of community campaigner, thrust to the forefront of a mix of protests and demonstrations. All this despite the unexpected shyness that Dan describes.
Most of these appearances appeared to be based, not on an attempt to be photographed as a celebrity do-gooder or as disguised promotion for a new show or a book, but rooted in a simple fury fuelled by a feeling that the most downtrodden and unfortunate were often hurt worst as public services became skinnier.
So, he’d pop up on the picket line with fire fighters in Kentish Town, and in the thick of marching demonstrations against council cuts, and adding his support to saving the old Victorian swimming baths when they were close to closure. He was right there in the middle of the Save The Whittington Hospital march last year too. You didn’t have to know him as well as Dan did, to see from these commitments that he had a natural care for the area, and the people here, whether he knew them all or not.
Sometimes when his face would flash across the newspaper’s pages as they were being subbed on the screen, there would be a light-hearted cry in the office of ‘what, Trigger… again’. But this record of familiarity was not really something to mock. It was something to celebrate, because it was a mark of his willingness to stand up and say so when he thought something wasn’t right. And when you reflect, he was always there, not drifting in and out and making do with simply signing a rushed petition.
There are celebrities – for that was what Roger Lloyd Pack was, as much as Dan explains his distaste for our easy-come celebrity culture – who live around these parts and you might not even know it. A library might close at the end of their road, an accident and emergency department could be under threat five minutes from their front door – and you won’t hear a peep from behind their curtains, even though we all understand how campaigns can gain profile, weight and awareness.
Not so with Roger. He had become, not by some great self-promotional design, a part of Camden’s ever-restless campaigning fabric. This neighbourhood’s default position. You can see his suspicion in the picture above, as he listens to councillors talk about the difficult choices they face. He often seemed to urge for more radical responses than our local politicians would ever sanction. But those same elected bods at the Town Hall often still respected him all the same. For giving a toss. And saying so. That’s a simple but so often undervalued character trait, and part of the reason why his admirers in north London will retain an extra lasting affection.