Roger Lloyd-Pack: A wise, cultured, politically aware figure – and my mate
Roger Lloyd-Pack, who died yesterday aged 69, was best known for playing Trigger in "Only Fools and Horses", but he was also an active campaigner for social justice
Thursday 16 January 2014
I knew Rog because he had lived round the corner from me in Kentish Town, north London since I was a kid. Our circles were such we were bound to bump into each other, and our interests such we were bound to become friends.
He was both a father-type figure and a mate. Armed with a life of wisdom, he coupled this with a good ear to hear what was on my mind. He had a mischievous heart and it meant he wanted to join in the fun he saw I was having.
Roger was a man who believed strongly in social justice: he took his politics seriously, and was one of those old-school, cultured, well-read, left-wingers whose politics stemmed from the fact he saw beauty every where in life like a Shelley romantic and was heartbroken that humans connived to rob others of the chance to enjoy such things.
His politics wasn’t born of the nuts and bolts of the campaigns he lent his voice to, but because he believed in community. With his sons and wife he organised an annual street party in Kentish Town to ensure neighbours spoke to one another and got along. That was as much a political act for him as marching to save his local hospital or reading a poem at an anti-war demonstration. He fostered a strong sense of belonging in all he did.
He was the patron of the Friends of Highgate Library, and when it was threatened with closure, Rog shook with anger at the thought of a nation that had found the cash to bail out banks but didn’t have the nous – or civility, as he put it – to find the few thousand a year to secure the future for a store of learning, art and beauty.
He will, of course, be remembered for his role as Trigger, but he didn’t really like that. He hated it when we were at Tottenham’s Bell and Hare pub before a Spurs game and people would say: “Oi, Trig, can we have a picture?” He would smile and say to me: “Haven’t any of them seen Richard III or even The Vicar of Dibley?” and then laugh.
Roger Lloyd-Pack: Character actor who will be forever remembered as the lugubrious but lovable Trigger in 'Only Fools and Horses'
He got harassed constantly by people who wanted to take his photo and he’d look slightly resigned. Part of this was down to an innate shyness as a person – strange, perhaps, for an actor – but it was also linked to the idea that he hated celebrity and other such nonsense.
He believed so strongly in equality that he simply didn’t think the fact he had been on the telly made him any different than the person who went up to him, shook his hand and said ‘Trigger, you made us laugh’.
And he could be such a bloody good laugh. I recall a trip to Wembley with him before the Carling Cup final against Chelsea. He was, of course, spotted on Wembley Way by a whole heap of fans who began singing: “Trigger, give us a song, Trigger, Trigger, give us a song.”
He shrugged his shoulders, and launched into a rendition of “Oh When The Spurs Go Marching In”. Within a few moments he had 500 people joining in
We played cards into the night, drank fine wine and listened to jazz, rock ’n’ roll and gabbered on about political philosophy. He loved to listen to reggae with a Guinness in his hand and was proud when his son, Hartley, an accomplished DJ, spun records.
There was a serious side to him, too. He was a surrogate dad, always there to give sound advice, and hear what you had to say. He was full of acts of kindness, from helping out the Camden New Journal’s Christmas hamper fund to personal acts of generosity. When he heard I was taking a drama teacher I was keen on out on a date, he arranged for us to meet him at the Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue to see Richard III.
There wasn’t just a pair of tickets at the box office. He whispered conspiratorially, “meet me round back,” and took us across the stage as he and Mark Rylance were getting into costume. He took us into a box to watch the proceedings, knowing it would be a cool date, and winked a knowing wink at me as he led us to our seats. “I think you may be in there,” he whispered and giggled with joy at being a facilitator.
Roger was a gentle, kind, cultured friend. I’ll miss his smile. I’ll miss the wise counsel he offered. I’ll miss hearing his voice at the end of the phone when Spurs had won well or lost badly. And the nation will miss his wonderful talent.
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