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Waiting for Counsel


(With apologies to Samuel Beckett, Literature, and everyone else)

Act 1
Darkness. Lights up. Trainee sitting on a worn vinyl bench, to the right a board on the wall, with sheets of tattered A4 paper pinned to it. To the left a swing door. Trainee wrestles with zip on case with wheels next to bench. Sits back exhausted. Looks over at the board.

Trainee: Listed for 10.30 [pause, eyes to the front] In the 10.30 list. [slumps further down on bench] Fifth on the 10.30 list. [reaches towards case] Can’t be helped and the usher [looks longingly to the left] said [mutters] two applications and two CMCs. [Long pause, reaches down case and tugs at zip, fails. Sits back and sighs. Brightly] No family cases. We will be heard. [Checks watch. Looks around. Hopefully] We. [Pulls mobile phone from pocket, looks at it, shakes head and puts mobile on case]. Just an interim application [pause] interim [laughs shortly].

Client, facing away, half raises into view over back of bench.

Client: [groans, drops below back of bench]

Trainee: Don’t go off on me now, We may need you. [Hopefully] We. [leans forward to look at mobile phone, shakes head, sits back] and we will be heard [long pause, looks at board]. A necessary step [pause] one we are required to make, in order to [stops. looks longingly to the left] in order to take the next step [leans back over bench] there is movement still. [pause, slumps forward]. He attends, can’t ask more than that. [reaches for case, tugs at zip, fails. Sits upright] the robing room! [pause, slumps. Mutters] there or elsewhere, not here yet.

Client: [groans, out of view]

Trainee: He wearies [shrugs] he hopes to see the end. [slumps further] There must be hope of an end. For there has been a beginning [pauses, looks at case] or an opening at least. And that is a start, for there must be a beginning for there to be an end at all. That step we have accomplished to the satisfaction [pause] no, not that, the acknowledgment of all. [Brightly] So we have begun. [Anxiously] We [leans forward to look at mobile, shakes head, sits back]. There is then a possibility of an ending [pause, considering] Perhaps. All things are possible, the rest is mere quibbling over probability, a chalking up of the odds, better left to bookies and divinities. [Pause] Shall I mention Sisyphus? [pause] No, save that for later. Only in extremis, remember that.

Client: [whimpers, out of view]

Trainee: [mutters] Or if not an ending, a closing [kicks case, stubs toe.] And a drawing up of accounts. That would suffice. [Pause. Looks longingly to left] I swear I saw an usher before. [Pause. Firmly] We are on the list. [checks watch, looks quickly around. Nervously] We. [starts to lean forward to look at mobile, halts, sits back]

Lights down. Darkness

Act 2
Lights up. Scene as before. Trainee alone, lying on bench

Trainee: [despairing sigh] The afternoon list. [pause] I suspected as much. Once something has not happened then it is too much to hope that it will not not happen again.

Client: [hand appears on top of bench, clutches weakly then falls back]

Trainee: [feebly] We are on the list. [Glances around. Hollowly] We. [Case on wheels falls over].

Lights down.


Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


  1. Hoddy

    Bloody brilliant.
    For my money, you can have Salman Rushdie’s K for that piece.

    And, if you think the waiting’s bad out front, you should try being a humble JP in the retiring room…

    Lesson one for everyone involved in the law … have a paperback or magazine with you at all times.


  2. Simon Myerson

    That is why mobile phones have golf and backgammon included as I understand it. I can’t play real golf at all, but my phone handicap is currently -15. Where is Tiger when you really need him?


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