RETRO: Form an orderly queue

A long queue outside Wilson Peck on the corner of Barkers Pool and Leopold Street - 10th April 1973

A long queue outside Wilson Peck on the corner of Barkers Pool and Leopold Street - 10th April 1973

QUEUEING: it’s as British as drinking tea and losing at cricket.

Other countries can get to the back of the line because when it comes to standing in the order of arrival, we’re the best in the world at it.

But would you call it a hobby? Tuesday Retro would.

We’re currently running an A-Z series of pastimes enjoyed in our region. And in the absence of much else to have for the alphabet’s most awkward of letters, we’re saying Q is for queuing.

Because, after all, we all do it from time to time: and, while it may never quite be enjoyable per se, time spent in some lines is nothing if not an experience.

“A good queue is like a good microcosm of society,” says Sam Briggs, a 22-year-old music journalist who once queued all night to buy a new games console. “You get all life there, from the person behind you who keeps getting in your personal space to the people who have brought tea and sleeping bags, even though all they’re probably doing is queuing for a cash machine.

“If it’s something like football tickets, you get a good atmosphere.

“Everyone’s there because of a shared passion so there’s a sense of community - although admittedly not that much of one as you can only really talk to people directly in front or behind you.”

The orderly queue, historians say, became an established social form in the early 19th Century, a product of more urbanised, industrial societies which brought masses of people together.

“They were further entrenched in the British psyche during World War Two when propaganda focused on notions of doing your duty and taking your turn.

“Interesting,” says Sam, of Meersbrook. “Although having said all that, when you just want to get something done nice and quick - like get to the bar - having to queue is pretty annoying.”




Back to the top of the page