Britain's 9 Worst Queues: The Definitive Guide

From the nightclub to the Post Office, we count down the most heinous

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The story goes that us Brits love queues. George Orwell even wrote that a foreign observer would be struck by our "willingness to form queues". Well, research suggests we're not as good at it as we thought as congestion grows in equal proportion to our impatience, with young men reportedly the worst culprits in the decline of Britain's queueing supremacy. Here's our rundown of the nation's most forbidding queueing situations:

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9 The Wimbledon Queue

Aside from the sheer size of this queue which requires bleary-eyed commitment beyond the pay-off of watching some unseeded Bulgarian on Court No 6, the real problem here is the sense of bonhomie and conviviality that some fellow queuers will try to instill into proceedings, hoping to “make a day of it” with tea flasks, hearty chat and camping chairs. As any good British queuer should know, stoic silence and repressed anger is how we like to do it round here, thank you.

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8 The Nightclub queue

You leave behind a fun evening in the pub to join a stationary queue outside in the cold with no alcohol and where the conversation is stilted and loaded with tension,serviced by staff who refuse to estimate how long it will take, and by engaging them in conversation you will just be jeopardizing the slim chance you ever had of getting inside at all.

7 The Bus Queue

The bus queue has all the structure and discipline of a post-Earthquake UN food drop. It's every woman and man for himself to jockey for position and is the only place in Britain where elbowing the elderly will pass off without a glance or even a tut. 

6 The Motorway Queue

There’s no queue as helpless and liable to push British stoicism to its limits than a major motorway reduced to a crawl by some unknown calamity ahead. Yet while some countries might sound the horn relentlessly, the most extreme form of defiance you’re likely to see here is the man who turns his engine off and gets out for a leg stretch. The motorway lane-changers who try to fly down the outside lane and cut in ahead

5 The Doctor's Waiting Room Queue

A unique cocktail of everyday impatience allied with a genuine fear of death combine in a volatile cocktail of pent up tension in a silent room where clock ticking is still audible and the only noise is people flicking through 9 year old copies of Country Life and the occasional surname announced over an incomprehensible PA system. The only silver lining is a strangely smug sensation as your name is finally read out, requiring you to surpress the urge to hold your hand up to your fellow patients in the manner of a golfer who’s just holed a sizable putt.

4 The Telephone Queue

Requesting a new password or querying a phone bill via the telephone requires preparation and fortitude rarely seen outside of the military. If the automated password request system doesn’t break you, then the Whitney Houston medley probably will. By the time you’re past your estimated queueing time, you’ll have forgotten why you phoned in the first place. That’s before they need to transfer you to another department. When you have to explain your predicament from scratch. On the plus side you have a seat.

3 The Post office Queue

You think by going mid-morning you’ll beat the rush but it’s already snaking out into the stationery department of whatever shop it’s merged with and the guy in front of you has a parcel the size of a dolls house and you’re not sure if you filled in the driving licence renewal form correctly and they’ve just pulled down that shutter thing on the only lane that seemed to be moving, oh what’s the point.

2 The Bar queue

Remove any semblance of order or fairness from a queueing system and you may as well be a collection of Neanderthals gathering around an animal carcass. We bring you the bar queue. In a busy bar at peak time, you’re relying on the ability of an overworked and underpaid barman to know precisely the chronological order in which the assembled humans arrived at said bar. Humans that are drunk and restless. It's a tinderbox of tension because you know that in theory you might actually never be served. In theory.

1 The Airport Security Queue

The airport is a cathedral to queuing from the moment you arrive, but it's at security where things get turned up to 11. Partly because you have to do stuff. Partly because the stakes are high. Partly because you're only 99.5% sure didn't pack an automatic weapon. First you have to pick a queue, which in itself can provoke regret when you see your second choice speed through. Then there’s the vague sense of dread you haven't "cleared" your bag since Glastonbury. Then there’s the faff factor – ipads, keys, shoes, old people. And all this – all this – before you factor in the near certainty that you are now running prodigiously late for your flight. It’s surprising more people don’t have heart attacks before your very eyes.

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