Three men huddle in worn overcoats and sleeping bags, beside an ATM, next to a minimart, at the top end of Bold Street, in Liverpool. The rain is tipping down. The temperature drops to freezing, as darkness falls. The men huddle closer, their faces obscure under thin hoodies, but visible enough for it to be clear that they are no older than thirty years old.
They could be working in one of the many restaurants, bursting at the seams, round the corner along Bold Street. Do they feel the irony of living in a country transfixed by problems of immigration, while offering food from India, Italy, America and China? They could have jobs in one of the industrial centres, beside the city’s John Lennon Liverpool Airport. Or in the Museum of Liverpool, permanently berthed on the Pier Head at Albert Docks, where an engaging exhibition on the lives and times of musicians and artists John Lennon and Yoko Ono, is the ‘must-see’ attraction.
Given access to a shower, warm food, clean, dry clothes and some training, the three homeless lads beside the ATM could be suited up as ushers, guides, café staff and receptionists. With some further, specialist training, they could work in IT support or as archivists, designers or caption writers.
Even as actuaries and brokers, accountants and analysts in the banks, insurance companies and financial services corporations that inhabit the buildings arcing over the museum belt, that hugs the bank of the heaving, soupy surge of the Mersey.
They will not work as dockers. Containerisation, among other processes, has seen to that.
Will robots get their jobs?
News reports that one per cent of the world’s population own fifty per cent of the world’s wealth anchors consideration of containerisation, robots, restaurants, museums and financial corporations as the brutal context in which the three homeless lads in the cold, lashing rain at the top of Bold Street, wallow.
Earlier that same day, ardent, mainly youthful, demonstrators highlighted the threat of climate change, under the banners of anti-extinction protests.
Could the homeless lads be among them?
The demonstration gathered on the steps of a roofless church, damaged and not fully repaired since a bombing in World War Two. A sculpture in the grounds of the church shows two World War One soldiers, in full British and German field uniforms, facing each other, while bracing in competition over a football.
The city being Liverpool, the mythic football story is apposite. Real football, multi-millionaires and all, took place the night before, with Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane creating athletic beauty, delivering sporting prowess and exciting raptures from the people in the stands.
The rich, then, sported in the concave of the stadium, while on the perimeters, in the grand stands, the consumers, sat, stood, cheered, bellowed and sang. The homeless lads were not in the stands. They remained at the top of Bold Street, sodden, huddled into their worn-sheer duvets and wafer-thin raincoats.
A quick, thus unreliable, judgement identifies them, by voices and looks, as native English. Will they vote in the local and European elections? Will candidates canvas them for their votes?
Yes, John lad. Give Peace a Chance. Like the t-shirts, badges, mugs, postcards and fridge magnets declaim in the museum shop.
And sort inequality first, eh, John lad.
For peace sake.