The W4MP alt.guides usually provide a spot to relax and unwind after a hard day’s slaving on behalf of your unappreciative boss and his/her ditto constituents; somewhere to enjoy the thoughts of your tireless servants, Hoby, Dean, Clare and the others.
So it is with great sadness that we have to report the demise of your, and our, favourite scribe, Dean Trench. His close friend, Sadie Smith, was always privy to Dean’s more intimate secrets; so it is entirely appropriate that Sadie should have written his obituary.
DEAN TRENCH (1979 – 2010)
Dean Trench was born on 10th October 1979 in Bangor to Edith (nee Morgan) and Colin Trench and died this week in the course of campaigning for Member of Parliament whom, in Trench’s own words, “wild horses couldn’t drag me from. But I’d wish they’d try occasionally.” This phrase would, in retrospect, be remembered for carrying an eerie prophecy.
Trench entered Parliament in 1997 following the surprise election of his future employer, Jim Poole MP, for the constituency of Weaselthorpe. Under the impression that he was only a paper candidate, Poole was the first MP of the 1997 intake to make it into the prestigious Great Political Quotations of Our Time when he accidentally wailed, “Oh f*ck, I have to move to this sh*thole?” into an open microphone upon learning of his landslide victory. It was at this point Poole first became aware of Trench, who had worked as a volunteer on his campaign. Within half an hour of the MP’s misplaced utterance, Trench had persuaded the local press corps that the unfortunate Member was actually referring to the Houses of Parliament which Poole, according to the young man, held in contempt for being an inadequate constitutional mechanism in expressing the sophisticated will of the people. The Weaselthorpe Post was duly placated and Poole offered the young man a job on the spot. Thus began a relationship that would last until Trench’s tragic death.
The years immediately after the 1997 election were a time of flux and change for politicians, as well as those who served them. Very early on in what can be loosely termed his “career” as a research assistant, Trench was earmarked as “one to watch” by the self-appointed talent-spotters in the bag-carrying establishment, all of whom were characterised by the twin wild desires of becoming a special advisor to someone important and sharing soundbites whilst walking around the more picturesque parts of Westminster, just like they do in the West Wing. In spite of this early promise, Trench quickly alienated this group by refusing to turn up with even an attempt at sobriety to their secret meetings to discuss the role of the party in their career trajectory. He was eventually thrown out altogether when he got an uncontrollable fit of the giggles during a gathering at which a front bencher spoke on “the importance of pragmatism and progressification in appealing to the social, economic, and cultural aspirations of Middle Britain.” The crescendo of hilarity he scaled when the unfortunate politician got to the phrase “… and making it relevant to everyday conversation” reached such proportions that he had to be physically ejected from the room and his reputation amongst the self-appointed next generation of his party never recovered.
Yet in other ways, his professional life flourished with Jim Poole, who quickly established himself as a man of courageous utterances who was not afraid of a media opportunity. Not all of these were successful, but wherever Poole was, Trench was not far behind – often wearing a harassed expression, clutching a sheaf of papers, and roaring clarifications. Many close to him believe it was the occasion when Trench was required to bail out his employer, resplendent in a cowboy outfit and sharing a cell with a horse he’d borrowed for the occasion, from Charing Cross Police station at 1am following an ill-advised press call on College Green that was a turning point in the researcher’s short life. He got home in the early hours of that morning, accompanied by the horse, to find that his long-term girlfriend had left him. He would never, bar an oft-regretted encounter with an intern behind the bins outside the Sports and Social Bar, love again.
During the summer of 2007 he started writing guides on life as a research assistant for the W4MP website on subjects as diverse as how to manage MPs experiments with blogging to handling the Conference season. He would often exclaim with some bemusement, “Comic relief? This isn’t comedy, it’s documentary!”
It was on the final Saturday before the 2010 General Election that Dean Trench met his unfortunate end. The day was overcast and bore many potent omens: a dead carrion crow was found on the steps of the local campaign office, lightening had struck one of the Weaselthorpe polling stations, and a Telegraph journalist had rung first thing to ask why Poole had attempted to claim a vet’s fee for a horse with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on expenses.
It was a day of high excitement in the office of the Weaselthorpe MP who had come up with what he referred to as a “campaigning piece de resistance” to highlight how the Government should be doing more to keep dangerous paedophiles under lock and key. For reasons that were never adequately explained to the coroner’s satisfaction, this appeared to require Trench to be dropped off in the middle of the local housing estate dressed as Gary Glitter and nervously clutching a placard bearing the legend: “EQUAL RIGHTS FOR PERVERTS!”
By all accounts, Trench didn’t have time to react; within the space of a few seconds he had discarded the placard and was trying to keep a few paces of sprinting distance between him and the pitchfork wielding mob that had assembled belligerently behind him. Nobody knows for certain how long he was thus pursued but it is a fact that the politics editor of a red-top newspaper had, at some stage, got in contact with Poole who was safely ensconced in his office, to ask him what he thought of “perverts running wild on estates in Weaselthorpe”. Poole was half-way through a statement of genuine denunciation and outrage when the sight of Trench running past his office in nine inch platform shoes, a white suit and a wig akimbo, reminded him why the media might have developed a sudden interest in the issue.
The volunteers in Poole’s office and Poole himself piled outside to see the last, unfortunate moments of Dean Trench. Vaulting the fence into the paddock that lies adjacent to the party offices, with an agility surprising in a man who had taken to eating three meals a day in the House of Commons, Trench landed sprawled at the feet of the borrowed equine that had suffered so much indignity at the hands of the Parliamentary office for Weaselthorpe. Whether it was this, Trench’s unusual appearance, or the baying mob scrambling over the fence behind him that “scared the horse[s]” we can never be sure. The horse reared and struck Trench square in the middle of his Gary Glitter wig. He never regained consciousness.
Speaking ten minutes after the accident to as many broadcast journalists as he could assemble in that time, Jim Poole said, “This unfortunate accident will cast a dark shadow over the rest of my campaign to be re-elected as Member of Parliament for Weaselthorpe. In his honour, I will be visiting every town and village hall in the constituency to talk to the voters about how my being returned MP as in this General Election was Dean’s dying wish, and I will be setting up a Dean Trench Memorial Fund to pay homage to the life of this talented young man. All donations will go to my election fund. It’s what he would have wanted.”
He leaves behind him his budgerigar, Derek, his student loan, and Wolverhampton Wanderers supporters scarf that he never did get around to picking up from the Commons lost property office.
Dean Trench died as he had lived: a loyal footsoldier in the service of our elected representatives. There will be no state funeral for Trench or those like him, no tribute or moment of silence in the House of Commons, nor funeral in Westminster Cathedral attended by weeping celebrities. Let Dean Trench’s oft-spoken words be his final memorial:
“Working here’s a thankless task for which you get no thanks. Now, whose round is it anyway?”
(Obituary written by Sadie Smith, a close friend of the deceased)
You may like to know that Dean now has a successor working in Jim Poole’s office: Harper Pepperswitch.
Read Harper’s first despatch from the Westminster trenches here: Protesters, Pugin and Port: Harper’s first day in Parliament.
Revised 7 June 2010