British Queues? A Thing of the Past?

Old Oct 18th, 2007, 07:48 AM
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British Queues? A Thing of the Past?

One of the weird things i find about being in London or any British city is the respect for queueing with things like boarding buses, etc. - things that boggle the minds of say Italian tourists.

This i believe is a time-honored tradition in the British Isles. But it seems the queue system may be breaking down a bit - queues at bus stops, the place i encounter them themost, seem less orderly than before. Maybe this can be blamed a bit on the often non-British clientele using buses.

BUT when the U.K. Parliament this week granted themselves the power of jump queues at restaurants, WCs and elevators inside the Houses of Parliament it seems there is perhaps a broad attack on the tradition first-come first-serve queueing tradition.

Elected officials are supposed to represent the values of the constituencies and their scrapping the need to queue may well take on broader applications it seems.

Just seems that Parliament set a very bad precedent that flies in the face of the British public's penchant for queueing

OR IS QUEUEING BECOMING A THING OF THE PAST?
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 08:00 AM
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As we say in the UK, PalenQ, you seem to have your facts a*se about face.

MPs are currently 'reconsidering' the long held tradition that allows them to jump queues within the Houses of Parliament, meaning they'll have to join the end of the queue like anyone else.

Far from wanting to abolish the most English of queueing etiquette they want to uphold the behaviour that applies everywhere else.

Nice dig about 'non-British' clientele too...
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 08:27 AM
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Jay - until flanner or patrick contradicts me i'll go with the USAToday report that was also on many wire services: (I may have taken your statement except i haven't read any previous posts of yours to establish credibility so i'm not dissing you)

Here's the wording verbatim from USA Today yesterday:

"British lawmakers have granted themselves the power to cut to the head of the line at restaurants, restrooms and elevators inside the Houses of Parliament, despite cultural disdain for those who 'jump the queue. The edict was APPROVED by Peter Grant Peterkin, Parliament's sergeant-at-arms. "People are outraged" said Kevin Flack, a Labor union representative. Workers' agents met with lawmakers hoping to scrap the truth.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 08:28 AM
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PalenQ obviously hasn't been to London in recent years. Queueing at bus stops has largely died out. I catch buses in London nearly every day and I think it's several years since people waited at bus stops in a neat line. It wasn't peculiarly British: Portuguese people use to queue at bus stops, but it's died out there as well.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 08:30 AM
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i've spent a week or more in London every year since 1969

and it seems that there are still haphazzard queues at bus stops but i'll have to look again i guess.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 08:39 AM
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Well, here's my take on the bus queue (or lack thereof) as a regular bus commuter. Very often, esp in the central part of London, one bus stop serves multiple bus routes.

Arriving bus would just open the door NEAR the stop, rather than waiting till it gets to the exact signpost (where the queue is supposed to begin theoretically). So, passengers at the head of the queue may rush to the back to catch the right bus and someone at the back of the queue may have to go forward to catch his/hers. Queueing is simply not practical in this kind of circumstances. We are just being more practical.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 08:41 AM
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Having said that, there is a general concept of first come first board closer to my house (where bus stop serves only 2 routes), and you'll see many people let the eldery/children/ parents with buggies board ahead.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 09:00 AM
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PalenQ, I'll see your USA Today and raise you the BBC;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7048445.stm

Also, with all due respect to Flanner and Patrick who are clearly very knowledgeable, they don't have exclusive knowledge over what's happening on this side of the altlantic.

For someone on a travel forum, you don't seem very open to other people's opinions. Just a thought...
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 09:03 AM
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We let me apolgize to you - perhaps i did not say it right but this was the first post i've read from you or remember and there are so many posts here, including, ironically mine now that you point it out, that it's hard to put faith in anyone you don't know for sure has the goods.

I'll add you to the list and yes BBC over USAYesterday.

my apology
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 09:06 AM
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Unions representing House of Commons staff say they are hopeful that a rule encouraging MPs to jump the queue in restaurants will be scrapped.
It follows a "lively" meeting between staff and the MP whose committee brought in the rule.

well though as i read the BBC thing the queue jumping was sanctioned just as USAToday said - now they are trying to reconsider it

i guess i stand by the OP after reading the BBC thing
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 09:07 AM
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My understanding of what some MPs have been up to is the same as PalenQ's, but it may be that the wording of the announcement by the relevant committee is unfortunate rather than a substantive change in practice. Presumably, if an MP said "Do you mind if I go ahead, I've got to vote in give minutes" the queue would oblige, but not if they said "I'm a Member, b*gger off".

Generally speaking, "strict" queueing etiquette has been dying off for 30 years or more; but then, it isn't that much older-established a tradition.

Somewhere I've seen advice from London Transport in the late 1930s that suggested it wasn't the norm then. It did become the norm in World War II, when queueing was the only fair way to cope with short supplies of everything (I have an old cartoon of various puzzled/angry-looking people with someone saying "Well, if you're waiting for a No. 9, she's waiting for Gone With The Wind, and I'm waiting for the cat's meat ration, what kind of queue is this anyway?"). Queue-jumping in those days meant serious inconvenience.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 09:13 AM
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Apology accepted PalenQ.

What with some interesting 'new' posters around at the mo' (yes I mean travel_guru), I can vaguely understand your reasoning.

If you question his/her credibility, I'll be first in the queue behind you...
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 09:25 AM
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Jay G is probably right. The US reporting is almost certainly wrong.

I say Jay G is "probably" right because the official line some MPs are coming out with is that MPs have always gone to the front of queues in the House, that everyone used to understand this, but that a huge influx of interns and other riffraff mean there's all sorts of people unaware of parliamentary traditions.

This might be correct. What you have to understand is that there's no documentatuion of parliamentary traditions. One is just expected to know about them. But the source for the "queue jumping is a tradition" claim - and Jay might have a more authoritative source - is MPs. And who'd stake their lives on trusting them?

Against that claim stands - well Lembit Opik, an MP with interesting views on extra-terrestrials and Romanian pop singers. He claims all this queue jumping is new. But he's new too, and most of us would double check the calendar if he said today's a day with an "a" in it.

I'm told MPs have often been able to jump these queues, and I've some experience of their jumping at least one set of queues in the House being tolerated 15 years ago.

On the wider issue of queue collapse in Britain, bus queues in the centre are no guide to anything: conventional queueing just isn't practical at any bus stop inside the Circle Line. Outside, they often still survive - though there have always been places (like bars in theatres) where they never existed, and it's always been everyone for themselves.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 09:35 AM
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Indeed flanner. It has been a long standing unwritten rule that MPs take precedence in queues within the House over non-parliamentary members of staff.

Whilst grudgingly accepted previously, I think the fact that it was put into writing crossed the invisible line of accepted tradition and passed into the realms of 'I'm better than you, you grotty urchin' and thus made people speak out about it.

In a bit of insider info, since having made this comment to the BBC, Lembit Opik (our cheeky girl bothering 'friend') has been seen absent mindedly wandering to the front of the queue at the House canteen...



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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 12:37 PM
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I think my useless MP should be made to go to the back of every queue going for the rest of his miserable life.

Apart from being frighteningly right wing, he has one of the very lowest response rates to constituents questions, and his profile on the govt website seems to consist of nothing more than declaring his endless free upgrades with Virgin Atlantic.

Git.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 01:00 PM
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I've always wondered why American skiers queue so politely and helpfully at ski lifts in U.S. ski resorts (if nowhere else), while British and other European skiers (in Europe) abandon all sense of civilization in the lift line and push, shove, and snarl as they trample over your new skis to board the lift a couple of seconds faster. Doesn't matter how politely they may queue at home--it all flies out the window when they hit the slopes.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 01:04 PM
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I would be curious to know if younger folk tend to disregard the queue tradition more, as i may expect, than older ones. and is this a reason that some Brits here say the queue tradition is kind of dying out, which i lament as i am a queueing type person - the mark of civilized behaviour
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 01:08 PM
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I accidentally jumped a queue at a chocolate festival in the U.S....I thought everyone was lined up for the stand next to the one I went to.
I got told off pretty sharpish by the waiting throng and had to slink away in shame.

Never come between women and their chocolate, no matter what country you're in!
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 01:09 PM
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I suspect a lot depends on how often people use buses.

Up in Sunny Edinburgh (Officially The Best Place in UK To Live) most people use buses on a regular buses so although you don't get formal queuing (too many people smoking) people tend to board in the order they arrived at the bus stop.

Mind you it helps that buses don't open doors until they are EXACTLY at the stop
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 01:12 PM
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Sasaparilla very funny and too true!
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