Today I celebrate my sixty fourth birthday. Celebrate, because I have only one year before collecting my State Pension and escaping the indignities and ravages of the job market. Last year I took the further opportunity of early retirement from a 35 year career in the public sector, feeling confident that I would pick up some part-time work to see me through to giving up paid employment and—ever the cynical optimist—enjoying the virtues and obscurity of old age.
With memories of the last recession, I sat down recently to watch again the early 1980s TV drama series Boys from the Blackstuff, a poignant reminder of the Thatcher legacy. Many of us have yet to wake up to the kind of stark realities enacted by Yosser Hughes and his mates in Alan Bleasdale’s remarkable dramatisation: the disintegration of community, family and the self. Yosser’s iconic 30 year old catch phrase, ‘gis a job’, has come back to haunt a new generation.