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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