An early radio play
by Tom Stoppard
is a student
who does not want to join his father's firm, but takes up a summer job as the youngest on a team of painter
s, who move perpetual
ly from one end of a bridge
to another, starting again as soon as they have finished.
An accountant comes up with a scheme to save money by using a more durable paint which would last much longer, meaning fewer painters would need to be employed. The town council of Clufton accept his argument, and all but Albert are transferred to other duties.
Unfortunately the bridge requires four people to paint at the rate that the old paint decayed, so with only one person painting in the new paint, three-quarters of it is rusting faster than...
Albert is very perturbed when someone invades his solitude, contemplating suicide, and urges him just to get on with it and leave him alone. At the end he is horrified to see that the council plan to solve the decay problem by sending an army of painters to finish it all at once. But unlike a real army, they do not know to break step when going onto a bridge, for fear it will...
Albert's Bridge was first performed on 13 July 1967, on the BBC's Third Programme, with John Hurt as Albert. A stage version was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1969.