Do you remember Yosser?

yosser hughes

Do you remember Yosser Hughes? “Gizza job!” Yosser Hughes? Poor bloody man. Couldn’t get a job, desperate for a job, he would have killed for a job. Any job. Any kind of bloody job at all. He was on the edge was Yosser. Right on the edge.
“I can do that!”
He could not understand why others got jobs and he didn’t. You never can when you haven’t a job. Not even on the blackstuff gangs could he get a bit of work. Part time job. Full time job. Causal job. Nothing. “Gizza job!” Anthem for the doomed.
He was played on the box by Bernard Hill, gaunt scouser, dysfunctional, big family, typecast, desperate for a job, Liverpudlian. He became an icon for the unemployed, if the unemployed have icons. He couldn’t walk a street in Manchester, Liverpool, Dublin or London without someone shouting “Gizza Job! I can do that”. It was a curse. A deep embittering curse that drove him close to insanity. To be known for not having a job, to be famous for being out of work. To be a typecast scouser. To be a typecast actor. A true curse. It took him years to lose the image of Yosser.

It went on for all the decade of Thatcher. Black years. Black years if you were without work. Bernard Hill worked again, of course, but Yosser never did. No point in saying his time has come again, for time is another curse of the jobless. But it has come again. It has.

Yosser made us laugh about not having a job. And he made us cry. Mostly he made us very very angry. It was a lot easier to be angry then. No bankers then. No Euros. Black and white. North and South. Bastards with jobs and yossers without.
When the good times came we sort of rejoiced. We forgot about Yosser. We opened coffee shops, grew organic food, built windmills. Gusts of affluence.
In a Liverpool multiplex cinema the film Titanic in 3D. Captain Smith comes onto the bridge. It is Bernard Hill. Someone stands up. And shouts.
“Yossers gorra job!”
The whole cinema roars and cheers and claps. Yosser’s got a job. So there, we hadn’t forgotten about him at all. He has come again. But is it only to make us laugh this time? Have we no anger now. Have we no tears.
Yosser got a job. The ship sank.

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Twinkle Egan, Barrister, remembered.

She has been gone now for over six years, but still I see her striding through the law library, still hear her infectious raucous laughter, still remember her little, and not so little acts of kindness to new unsure and hesitant barristers making their way in that tough and daunting cauldron of Dublin’s law library. Twinkle Egan. Saying her name, the act of typing her name, even I am sure, reading her name, will all evoke a gentle smile, a fond memory.

She was a force was Twinkle. A bit frightening at first. I have to confess that for a quite a while in the library I did not know her from Adam, or should it be Eve. Nor did she know me. But somehow she heard my son was ill and in hospital. My wife and I were attending upon our son daily, my legal practice effectively abandoned; we were to all intents and purposes living in St. John’s ward at the Children’s hospital in Crumlin.

Twinkle just turned up. There she was, one early afternoon, sitting on my son’s bed entertaining him with a stuffed parrot. It was one of those novelty parrots that recorded whatever you said to it and repeated your words back when you pulled a string.

Although I didn’t know Twinkle terribly well I did know, as did every one else in the library, of her rich Dublin accent and her particular love of fruity vernacular language. I was therefore a bit concerned as to what the parrot might say when the string was pulled. I should not have worried, for within minutes, this total stranger had my son laughing his head off not to mention every other child in the ward, plus all the nursing staff and several neighbouring and rather desperate parents. She could do that Twinkle, she could light up a room, lift your depression, make you laugh when you should really be crying.

And she was an outstanding lawyer. Her proposals for and work upon a new Centralised European Judgement Registry had been endorsed and adopted at the very highest levels of the legal structures in Brussels. God knows what they thought of her accent and her language but we all know they thought her a brilliant lawyer

She was a most feminine lawyer. The dress code of the law library is essentially dull, black and grey predominate. She brought to it dazzling colour. The language of the law is also essentially dull and she brought to that, well, dazzling colour!