Cashpoint, South of the River, London

November 28, 2006

Saturday night.

Exact location, I’m afraid, is unknown.

I cannot remember if it was before or after the taxi ride, and so the best I can do is suggest that it was somewhere between Brixton and Bermondsey.

I was not a queue partaker, but merely an observer. Inside the queue we have Claire with the white looking bag, Matthew to the left, his face somewhat obscured by another fellow of our party, whose name, for the time being, I am unable to remember.

Notice the positioning of Miss Lake, not one to turn her back on her friends or the cashpoint, she has chosen to stand sideways in the queue. This makes it impossible for any would be queue jumper to adopt a place between the group of friends and the cashpoint.

You may not believe such a thing would happen but the risk here in London, especially South of the river, is quite high.

In the above picture, such an opportunist exists in the form of a young lady standing by the wall. Waiting for a gap to open up in the queue, she is kept at bay by Miss Lake’s challenging stance.

Although I do start to worry somewhat when Miss Lake momentarily forgets herself and turns her back completely on the cashpoint.

The queue becomes quite vulnerable, and lo and behold a gentleman appears in the gap.

But panic not. Luckily the young sir is only after some change for a quid, and is soon off on his way.

The previous young lady also ventures off into the night, and so it is time for Miss Lake to take her position at the head of the queue.

After fighting off adversaries, rising to new challenges and keeping the conversation flowing with her companions, Miss Lake, mission accomplished, joins the waiting crowd.

Which is really a good time to stop taking photographs.

Before I draw too much attention to myself.

Crikey. Lets run for it.

The Gabba, Brisbane

November 27, 2006

As promised, here is our second post from Laurence of Australia. This time he reports on the queues at the Ashes:

Here’s another queue in Brisbane outside the Gabba. To confirm the relaxed attitude to orderly queuing in Australia the authorities have had to erect steel fencing to keep them in a tidy line. By-the-way, this is the queue for the gents toilet not for the Ashes tickets. We drink a lot of beer in Australia.

Now that I am “queue aware” I will search out more. There’s an interesting one at Coles supermarket where no-one forms a queue, more of a small crowd, but all take their turn to be served in order of arrival. Strange but true.

Bunnings DIY, Thornleigh, NSW Australia

November 27, 2006

There’s nothing better than a cheery start to the week, and for this I am thankful to Laurence of Australia who has provided our first antipodean queue story. In fact, although it is only Laurence of Australia’s first entry he does in fact have two queue stories, the second of which I’ll post later on today, and so I have decided to already give him his own category.

Not to keep you waiting any longer, here is Laurence:

G’day Standinaqueue

This is my first and a small contribution from the colonies. I think I have the right to make a contribution since the Queen Lizzy is still officially in charge here. Unofficially, no-one here cares a toss. Besides, we are going to beat you at cricket…

Location is one of those DIY warehouses at a place called Thornleigh in NSW, Australia. It’s on the Northern outskirts of Sydney, the largest city in Australia. (Do NOT be fooled by any claims that Melbourne is the largest city. They are deluded.)


It is difficult in Australia to find a respectable queue. There are many ex-Brits here, including me, but the largest element of the population in the cities are mainland European and Asian. Thankfully the Australian government no longer considers it a requirement to have a stiff upper lip. Consequently queues are now rather relaxed and casual, as is the Australian lifestyle. Notice the prevalance of thongs (flip-flops) and shorts.

You can tell by the body language that everyone is fully relaxed and enjoying their queues. This was taken at around 10.00 on a Sunday morning when all have a high expectation of finishing that DIY project before lunch.

The unique thing about this place is that there are no shopping baskets and they refuse to give you a plastic bag when you’ve bought your stuff. Something to do with saving the planet. So if you buy 42 widgets and 12 sprocket grommets you have to crowd them into your pockets once you’ve paid. Needless to say that you have to empty your pockets again because the car keys are at the bottom.

Notice the lady in blue. She is thoughtfully checking the exact location of her keys.

Walmart, Connecticut US of A

November 23, 2006

An international queue story from the United States. I’m afraid I’m a few days late with this story, but I feel as though it deserves a mention.

A 21-year-old gentleman from Massachusetts was shot early in the morning of the 17th when stood in a queue for a Playstation 3.

The queue was outside a Wal*Mart in Putnam, Connecticut.

The two gunman confronted 15 to 20 people standing outside a Wal-Mart store shortly after 3 a.m. and demanded money, said State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance.

“One of the patrons resisted. That patron was shot.”

Tate Modern, London

November 23, 2006

Another trip to Tate Modern. Although this time I was not interested in the slides, not even a little bit, and it seemed that they had fallen out of favour with the general public too.

The queue was miminal. Which made it easier to buy tickets for the other exhibitions, of which I was terribly interested in seeing the Fischli and Weiss.

And so the queue I joined.

Within the queue area there was a Tate employee who was verbally giving information on the next slide times and ticket availability. I can see how this would have been useful a couple of weeks ago, but really today I thought he would have been put to better use in the cloakroom.

He informed us on the exact details of how long the wait would be for each slide, and it was somewhere between an hour and two, with two being the slide from the fifth floor. But he also went on to say that there was no one up there at present, so as long as you had a ticket, you could probably slide straight away.

I was tempted, but today the slides seemed very much out of context inside this big space. After watching the faces of those who had reached the bottom, which would quickly change from mild amusement to sudden London dead eye boredom, I decided that there was little joy to be had from these slides.

But I am allowing myself to digress. Before venturing round the Fischli and Weiss, which was very good by the way, actually it was terribly good, and I laughed lots as I went around. Definately a lot more fun than the slides.

Where was I?

Ah yes, the cloakroom.

Bag deposit to the left, bag collection to the right.

I joined the left queue, which doesn’t look very long but it did however take an awfully long time.

There were only two employees who would switch from queue to queue, not really paying attention to whom had been waiting the longest. There was a voluntary cloakroom fee of £2.00 but after waiting at least ten minutes, I exaggerate not, I decided that the time I spent in the queue would not bother me at all if the cloakroom fee was indeed free.

With the money saved I bought myself a coffee, which actually tasted pretty awful.

But the view was okay.

Derricks Takeaway, Leith

November 22, 2006

We have a guest entry today on Standinaqueue, from Gary Wood. Go give him a visit at his blog and learn all about Edinburgh:

I have worked in Leith for a month now, but only recently discovered Derrick.

Derricks takeaway has everything I want from a sandwich shop – low prices and sandwiches. The low prices attract many people who then form an orderly queue. Without any signs people automatically queue to the right, which enables browsing of drinks whilst waiting and also allows space for people to leave down the left.

I was at the end of the queue, but nobody stays at the end for long in Derricks. Soon a man in red queued behind me, but he turned away once he realised I was documenting the whole adventure.

Once in the middle of the queue, time was running out and so I had to try and decide what sandwich to buy. Whilst thinking of my filling I decided to document how I stand in a queue:

I took about 20 photos, but few of them were worth keeping. People were becoming suspicious of my actions. I put my phone away, ordered my two sandwiches (£1.60) and walked away with one plan – remove the cucumber.

I took a photo of my sandwiches, but it has vanished – perhaps my phone ate it.

Marks and Spencers, Covent Garden

November 22, 2006

There was a time when Marks and Spencers was a bastion of British Society. In the early 90s, when supermarkets were trying to steal customers away from town centres, you could always rely on good old Marks and Sparks to still be there on the local High Street.

You would be welcomed into the shop with a quick blast of warm air from above, and then on into the inner sanctum of ladies underwear and worn carpets which would be your home for at least the next two hours.

Not anymore. This recent media dahling has become nothing but a corporate monster hidden behind a matt black facade. With a chain of glorified service stations under its belt, M&S (RIP Marks & Sparks) has become a brutally efficient machine churning out profits of millions by the nano-second.

The amount of fruit juices for sale was astounding, but I chose a simple orange juice and a banana and then it was off to find the queue.

Much to my dismay however, M&S had managed to build a barrier of Berlin wall proportions between where I stood and the end of the queue.

After negotiating my way through the maze of cold fridges, I was pleased to see that I did not have to walk along the entire length of the proposed queuing area as some good egg had made it possible to pass along the top.

And so I was able to take my place at the back of a very long queue.

There were so many sweet snacky things along the queue’s edge that I started to feel a little nauseated. So instead I kept my attention on the woman in front’s dandruff and by using this method I managed to make it to the end of the queue.

As you can see in the above picture, from the ceiling hung a machine which visually and verbally informed you of which till was available for your use.

If I remember correctly, I was directed to till four.

Pret A Manger & Greggs, London

November 21, 2006

We have another entry for International Standinaqueue Day.

I am very pleased to welcome Picklin Paul the Prince of Pickles who reports on two queues from London town. He has also thrown in an extra queue from Chicago O’Hare which, although international, was unfortunately not taken on Standinaqueue Day. But, as we’re all friends here, I don’t think that anyone will mind this inclusion.

Without further ado:

Overall, I really enjoyed my day of queuing but I really could do with some advice on the art of queue photography. As you can see I missed queues and failed to capture complete queues. Mainly this was due to a shyness about taking a picture and then having to remain in the queue. This explains the rather furtive first picture shot at waist height – it was a shame I forgot to turn the flash off therefore completley negating any attempt to hide my photography.

The first queue of the day was in Pret A Manger. There was only one queue for four servers which always leads to tension as opportunists try and jump in. Notice the gentleman all in black standing slightly outside the queue, attempting to block any attempted queue jump.

He wasn’t helped by the man on the coffee machine (you can just see him on the far left with a baseball cap on). He was asking people in the queue if they wanted a coffee. This allowed the more assertive queuer to get their order in first. Surely this practice negates the whole point of the queue?

Next a retrospective queue photograph from Greggs.

Being new to the art of queue photography I wandered in unprepared and found a short queue and an efficient server. I left with a pasty but no photograph. You will just have to imagine the service.

Finally, not a queue from Standinaqueue Day but a rare oddity. A highly regulated queue from America.

This one was for passport control at Chicago O’Hare airport. On a recent trip to the States I found that automation and a highly effective table service culture had made queues a rare experience. But as you can see they can queue when they want to. The flags helped to emphasis that everyone was welcome in this queue – how’s that for professionalism?

Kings Cross, London

November 21, 2006

Blimey. Kings Cross is the station where a lot of us Brits enter the capital. Well, Kings Cross and St Pancras, which will soon be the first port of call for train travelling continental types. Lord help them.

The trick is to copy the Londoners and to walk with a dead look in your eyes, like you’ve seen it all before; there is nothing that will impress or intimidate you.

I walk the walk, but inside I have nothing but fear of child pickpockets and rapists.

And so to the queue at the ticket counter I go.

London queues are invariably longer than our country types, but they do tend to move a lot faster.

And so in no time at all I was here.

In the picture above, a few people ahead of me, you can see a young girl’s face jut out from the crowd.

She is with a group of nine other girls and two middle aged teachers, who both seem to visibly share my fear of street crime.

It appears to be the first time that any of them have visited London, and the two ladies are constantly checking on the wellbeing of the girls who, despite the fact that it’s half nine in the morning, seem to be only interested in the local men.

When their group reaches the front of the queue the two teachers, in blind panic, physically propel each student in turn to a free window, before chasing after them to make sure that they buy the right ticket.

A couple of the girls, despite wandering eyes for any male under the age of 35, manage to buy their tickets by themselves and wait at the end of the counter for the rest of the group to catch up.

However when one of the teachers joins these girls, she soon finds out that instead of being charged child prices, they have been charged full fare. And so, in a bid to look in control of the situation, she approaches one of the staff behind the windows to, well, have a go.

Being British, she is clearly a firm believer in not raising one’s voice. Quite right too.

Unfortunately for her, this ain’t Britain, this is London. The man behind the counter is having none of it and, clearly used to those from the provinces, turns the volume up on his microphone.

“Jesus Christ lady.” His voice booms out across the station. “Do I look like a bleedin’ mind reader? How the hell am I meant to guess that she’s fifteen when she’s dressed like that?”

The poor teacher blushed and walked off sheepishly to join her group. Although, fortunately for her, none of the pupils had noticed this talking down as they were far more interested in the three young males standing by the tube map.

HSBC, Kilburn

November 17, 2006

The third and final entry for today is from the delightful Willoughby. If you have never visited his blog, I suggest you do so now.

His entry is actually for Standinaqueue Day, but has been a little tardy in its arrival:

This is a queue in my local HSBC. There is always a queue there, so this was no surprise. But can you imagine my upset when I realised that the guy right at the front of the queue was actually reading a paper!

I don’t know about you, but I felt this broke queue etiquette by being just a little too brazen about how long he intended to hold us up.

I’d love your expert opinion on this.


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