It’s not what you think.
Tim Farron recently introduced his new Chief of Staff, Ben Williams, on these pages:
Ben was the standout candidate and brings a wealth of experience at all levels of the party from council campaigner to Head of Liberal Democrat Whips’ Office and latterly a Special Adviser. Everyone who has worked with him knows his skills and how brilliantly he works under pressure. There were many points over our years in government when I saw Ben, at first hand, make sure the government kept delivering liberal policies under tremendous pressures. He is exactly what our party needs – someone who can help me to help our party grow and thrive.
Ben Williams also has, according to self-publishing website Lulu.com, “always harboured a secret passion for writing.” Indeed, Ben has, they say, “finally got around to publishing his first collection of poetry, ‘Fragments and Reflections’, drawn from his poems published on Wattpad” under the name of Requiem or @Requi3mX.
Ben is obviously a great man of letters, with a prodigious list of favourite poets: “Louis MacNeice, W. B. Yeats, Rupert Brooke, e. e. cummings, Allen Ginsberg, Pablo Neruda, R. S. Thomas, Adrian Mitchell, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, John Keats, William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, John Betjeman, Elizabeth Smart and Philip Larkin.”
From a skim of the free sampler of his “Fragments and Reflections”, Ben offers rich observation of the environment, spiked with shrewd and original human reflections.
His poem “A Hangover after a Late Spring Evening Drinking with Friends” contains this passage which caught my eye:
Gone, those gauche and brash pretensions, first born,
remember, when we hid far from the world:
years lived cloistered away from awkward truths,
homes made, briefly, in ivory towers
surrounded by moss-buttered quadrangles.
“A Storm in Prospect” draws on Ben’s elaborate perception of nature:
It is dead air, choked with dust and sweat and
the metal tones of spent exhaust.
Each second drags a cloying weight in the
wrong and sudden stillness of the day,
wherein thrush and sparrow quieten,
and cats are safely absent.
I enjoyed “The Previous Occupant”, which muses over who might have previously occupied a hotel room in which the author is residing. Ben writes about “gazing Through rain-washed windows at the Clyde”. This leads one to speculate that this may be drawn from a stay at the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow – perhaps during one of our two conference periods there recently?:
Who came here before me, bringing escorts or a boy, Or a childhood sweetheart chanced upon?
…Well, that surely rules out any Liberal Democrat conference representatives, who would, I’m sure, be too preoccupied with the next constitutional amendment debate to have time to indulge in such pleasures of the flesh. Of course. Obvs.
Most poignantly, Ben’s sampler closes with a beautifully moving poem called “The Boy Who Fell from the Sky” which is dedicated as follows:
Written for Pippa, in memory of Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas, a friend to so many colleagues, who died alongside four fellow soldiers in the Lynx Helicopter crash in Afghanistan on 26th April, 2014.
A future literary step for Tim’s new Chief of Staff may be in prose form. His Lulu.com profile concludes:
One day he might finish one of the novels that have been rattling around in his head for years.