Friday, August 24, 2007

Waiting for the Database

A play in one act by Samuel Beckett, with some slight modifications to the back end by Jeff Jones.

Act I

An office. In Bath.

Friday morning.

Jeff, sitting at his desk, drinking coffee, eating a Daim bar and checking his email. He gives up, exhausted.

Enter Jez. Sweaty.

Jeff: Nothing has been done.

Jez: I'm beginning to come round to that opinion.

Jeff: May one inquire where Mr Loftsbury spent the night?

Jez: In a ditch.

Jeff: A ditch? Where?

Jez: (without gesture) Over there.

Jeff: Did you see the database?

Jez: No, not there.

Jeff: When I think of it ... all these years ... where would it be?

Jez: On a beach in Cornwall?

Jeff: It's too much for one man. On the other hand what's the good of losing heart now, that's what I say. We should have thought of it a million years ago.

Jez: Sometimes I feel it coming all the same. Then I go all queer ... How shall I say? Relieved and at the same time ... appalled. AP-PALLED. Nothing to be done.

Jeff: Nothing.

Jez: How's your knee?

Jeff: Swelling visibly.

Jez: Ah yes, the tram tracks in Bristol. Do you remember the story?

Jeff: No. I had too much to drink.

Jez: It's your own fault. You shouldn't have had all that cider.

Jeff: I should have had more. And I shouldn't have been riding that small-wheeled bike.

He rises painfully, goes limping to extreme left, halts, gazes into the computer with his hand screening his eyes, turns, goes to extreme right, gazes out the window. Jez watches him, then goes and picks up Tony's week-old coffee cup, peers into it, drops it hastily.

Jez: Let's go.

Jeff: We can't.

Jez: Why not?

Jeff: We're waiting for the database.

Jez: (despairingly). Ah! (Pause.) You're sure it was here?

Jeff: What?

Jez: That we were to wait.

Jeff: Yes. They said it was here on this server. Do you see any others?

Jez: What is it?

Jeff: I don't know. A patch? A new article editor?

Jez: Where are the products?

Jeff: No idea. It must be dead.

Jez: What are you insinuating? That they haven't done it?

Jeff: It should be here.

Jez: They didn't say for sure it would be here.

Jeff: And if it doesn't come?

Jez: We'll come back tomorrow.

Jeff: And then the day after tomorrow.

Jez: Possibly.

Jeff: And so on.

Jez: What did we do yesterday?

Jeff: What did we do yesterday?

Jez: Yes.

Jeff: Nothing is certain when you're about.

Jez: You're sure it was this evening?

Jeff: They said Friday. (Pause.) I think.

Jez: You think.

Jeff: I must have made a note of it.

Jez: (very insidious). But what Friday? And is it Friday? Is it not rather Saturday? (Pause.) Or Monday? (Pause.) Or next Tuesday?

Jeff: (looking wildly about him, as though the date was inscribed on his email). It's not possible!

Jez: Or Thursday?

Jeff: What'll we do?

Jez: If it came yesterday and we weren't here you may be sure it won't come again today.

Jeff: But you say we were here yesterday.

Jez: I may be mistaken. We did drink a hell of a lot.

Jeff falls asleep. Jez looks around, then exclaims. It's here ... It's Here! ... IT'S HERE!

Jeff wakes with a start.

Jeff: (restored to the horror of his situation). I was asleep! (Despairingly.) Why will you never let me sleep?

Jez: I think I saw it under the desk. It bit me.

Jeff: Don't tease me.

Jez: What do we do now?

Jez: Wait.

Jeff: Yes, but while waiting.

Jez: What about hanging ourselves?

Jeff: From this slingbox? (They go towards the box on Jeff's desk.) I wouldn't trust it.

Jez: We can always try.

Jeff: Go ahead.

Jez: Why me? I don't understand.

Jeff: Use your intelligence, can't you?

Jez uses his intelligence.

Jez: (finally). I remain in the dark.

Jeff: If it hangs, it'll hang anything.

Jez: I'm getting no response from the backend.

A pause for lunch, involving a fish-finger sandwich and more coffee.

Jeff: What exactly did we ask them for?

Jez: Oh ... Nothing very definite.

Jeff: A kind of CMS.

Jez: And what did they reply?

Jez: That they couldn't promise anything.

Jeff: That they'd have to think it over.

Jez: Consult their programmers.

Jeff: Their partners.

Jez: Their investors.

Jeff: Their bank account.

Jez: Before taking a decision.

Jeff: It's the normal thing ... And where do we come in?

Jez: Come in?

Jeff: We've no rights any more?

Jez: (distinctly). We got rid of them at launch.

Jeff: What do we do now?

Jez: I don't know.

Jeff: Let's go.

Jez: We can't.

Jeff: Why not?

Jez: We're waiting for the database.

Jeff: (despairingly). Ah!

Enter Storm.

Storm: Alright?

Jeff: You have news of the database?

Storm: Yes sir.

Jez: Well, what is it?

Storm: (in a rush). The database told me to tell you it won't come this evening but surely tomorrow.


Jeff: I'm unhappy.

Jez: Is that all?

Storm: Yes.

Exit Storm.

Jez: We've nothing more to do here.

Jeff: Nor anywhere else.

Jez: Ah, don't go on like that. Tomorrow everything will be better.

Jeff: How do you make that out?

Jez: Did you not hear what Storm said?

Jeff: No.

Jez: She said that the database was sure to come tomorrow.

Jeff: Then all we have to do is to wait here.

Jez: Are you mad? We must take cover.

They approach the slingbox.

Jeff: (looking at the slingbox). Pity we haven't got a bit of rope. Remind me to bring some tomorrow.

Jez: Yes. Come on.

Jeff: How long have we been doing this for?

Jez: I don't know. Fifty years maybe.

Jeff: Wait! I sometimes wonder if we wouldn't have been better off with Sea Monkey and Drupal.

Jez: We can still do it, if you think it would be better.

Jeff: It's not worthwhile now.


Jez: No, it's not worthwhile now.


Jeff: Well, shall we go?

Jez: Yes, let's go.

They do not move.


Anonymous said...

Have you got your database yet?

Jeff Jones said...

I think it's in various pieces over at the Batcave.