Clueless or Queueless in UK?

Jun 3rd, 2005, 10:34 AM
  #1  
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Clueless or Queueless in UK?

Maybe i'm clueless bit it seems to me that the British time-honored tradition of queuing in an orderly fashion is becoming a bit passe? Seems when i first when to England decades ago everyone would orderly form queues to get on the double-decker buses for example. But recently it seems it's now more the mad dash to board like in other countries - is this Italianization of Britain real or do Brits still queue. Perhaps it's the nature of bus riders, the thing i'm generalizing my queue-less theory on - seems only non-British looking people now ride the buses, being forced off the tube perhaps by higher tube fares.
Anyway has the queue fallen out of fashion or anm i clueless about queuelessness?
PalQ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 11:21 PM
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My inner Grumpy Old Man instinctively agrees with you. But not once I've thought about it.

In London, I'd say the phenomenon is restricted to buses: in every other area of life I can think of, queues , if anything, are more the norm than they were 40 years ago - not just in the highly regulated and mechanised systems you get in banks and post offices, but in the way queues self-form at market stalls as they absolutely don't in southern Europe. My busy bank branch, for example, has a queue-busting system for business customers. None of us dare use it, because we're terrified of the glares from the elderly ladies we'd put out. So we line up behind the children paying their mobile phone bills and the tourists faffing about with travellers' cheques. British literature of the early 20th century abounds with examples of local big-wigs expecting to be served first under similar circumstances.

Outside London, queuing for buses still seems the norm. It certainly is in Liverpool, even with its reputation of Britain's most anarchic city. And in the Cotswolds, although lines don't form up at the bus stop, people board in the order they arrived at the stop. Even the 15 year olds.

I don't think it's a foreigner thing. The worst example of bus stop chaos I know is a stop in Islington, where most of the mob are former locals, back in their old haunts for market shopping, returning to their new homes. The faces fighting to get on look pretty Anglo-Saxon to me. Britain's decline in public politeness is, I think, entirely home-grown.

You're certainly right to bemoan the decline of London bus queues. But I wonder how typical they were? There's no culture of "first come first served" at theatre or opera bars these days, or in most city-centre pubs (though try jumping the invisible queue at any serious local and you'll be ostracised for life). But read any account of these places 50 or 100 years ago and the loudest shouter got served first then too.

Incidentally, I don't think there's any real evidence of an ethnic bias among bus passengers. Since bus journeys are relatively short, the passengers on a particular bus closely reflect the demographics of that bus' catchment area - which is inevitably less diverse than London as a whole. Get on a bus in affluent Pinner, and the faces will all be white. Get on a bus in (even more affluent) Harrow, and virtually every woman will be wearing a sari or shalwar khameez. Since the tube is used for lengthier, complex journeys, passengers on a given tube train will come closer to reflecting the demographics of the whole of London.
flanneruk is offline  
Jun 4th, 2005, 05:42 AM
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My busy bank branch, for example, has a queue-busting system for business customers. None of us dare use it, because we're terrified of the glares from the elderly ladies we'd put out. So we line up behind the children paying their mobile phone bills and the tourists faffing about with travellers' cheques."

LOL - that just tickled my funny bone. Thanks for the chuckle, flanneruk.
Kayb95 is offline  
Jun 4th, 2005, 05:51 AM
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I kind of liked the Inner Grumpy Old Man LOL
I always found getting ON the bus easier than the crush to get OFF the bus..we did have an elderly lady turn around once she had stepped off onto the sidewalk and started shaking her finger and screeching at everyone behind her for crowding her...
Scarlett is offline  
Jun 4th, 2005, 08:49 AM
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IIRC, it's only about 70 years or so since London Transport set out to educate people into the etiquette of queueing for a bus, i.e., it hadn't been the norm up to then. The queue really came into its own in WW2, when almost anything worth having generated its own queue: hence an old cartoon I saw somewhere of three puzzled-looking people and one saying "Well, if you're queueing for a number 9, she's queueing for Gone With The Wind, and I'm queueing for the cat's meat ration, what kind of queue is this anyway?"

It is possible to have a queue without 'standing in line' - see http://www.sirc.org/publik/ptpchap1.html on the 'invisible queue'.

But there is much less of a visible bus etiquette than there used to be when there was a conductor on board to shoosh standing passengers to seats upstairs and to the back of the bus to make room for others.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Jun 6th, 2005, 08:47 AM
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Most people who drive in places like France and Italy and then in the UK find that British drivers are so much more polite - like we are in the states - not so impatient and aggressive. I think the queue, which seems to still be strong in the UK, is a good sign of a civilized culture and are patient driving habits.
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