Join the line - a British institutionALANA DIXON
It's impossible to overstate how seriously the British take the art of queuing.
First, the back story.
A regular occurrence in London is turning down a random street, and coming face to face with a building that makes you go "corrrrrrrr".
Their numbers grow each day - time will tell if the works in progress, which have bizarre names (behold, the Cheese Grater) attract the same accolades as classics like the Swaminarayan Hindu Temple or the Natural History Museum.
Working in what I've been told, repeatedly, is an "iconic" - sincere apologies, Mr Fallow - London building was not at all reassuring during the staff- wide lecture from a policeman in the Met's counter terrorist command.
But, fighting the urge to wrap myself in tinfoil and remain indoors for the foreseeable, sometimes I can't blame the slack-jawed tour groups that come aclickin', cameras, smartphones, and iPads in hand.
During this year's Open House weekend, the lovely Lou and I were keen for a geeze at the Battersea Power Station, an imposing pile of art-deco style bricks that occupy a fond space in the Londoner's heart, before its redevelopment.
Unbeknownst to all, two separate lines had formed, circling in from different directions.
Where the twain met it got real ugly, real fast.
Decidedly not-chill hippies, cranky parents with crankier kids - not to mention three Kiwis - found themselves in a verbal altercation that lasted the rest of the queue.
Usually, Londoners avoid all unnecessary interaction with strangers. Not so during a queue.
Protect yourself. Knowledge is power.
1. Bring your own damn coffee.
There might be a mobile cart along the way, but if you're serious you've got to be prepared to make some sacrifices.
2. If things heat up, remember your manners.
You can slag off queue jumpers to your heart's content - goodness knows it's the British way - but only using strong tut- tutting, teeth sucking and phrases that remain distinctly upper crust.
3. Every man, woman and child for themselves.
Especially at the bus stop. Or a Ryanair flight. Actually, anywhere.
This is survival of the fittest, and if that 2-year-old thinks riding in on its parent's coat-tails means going ahead of the rest of us, that toddler has another think coming.
Nobody wants to hear your entire conversation, mainly because in a queue you waffle about the weather, why do you have the misfortune of being stuck in the line where the queue-keeper is training, and how much longer this might take.
5. Always, always, ALWAYS:
"Is this the back of the queue?"
6. Consider all factors.
The young cashier might be sprightlier than their older colleague, but what equals wiser? Does that person in front of you have a raspy smoker's voice, or three bottles of Tanqueray rattling round their basket? If so, avoid - ID checks waste valuable time.
7. Don't get snippy with the servers, even if they're checking text messages or gossiping with co-workers.
You make the mistake of coughing loudly or, worse, pointing out the definition of "customer service", and you will live to rue the day.
8. Be prepared.
This is England, and queuing is their national sport.
Borrowing a grey wig might seem a good idea, but it's not enough - especially not with today's youf. Pop in hearing aids, but make a point of (loudly) questioning their efficiency. Practice "doddery" in the mirror before leaving home.
9. The UK Border Agency isn't the only authority that can revoke your visa.
You jump the queue, you're out.
10. You need a pit stop? Go ahead.
Forgot your Shewee? There are some portable loos over there. Of course you can re-join the queue when you're done.
At the back.
Three kilometres away.
11. Don't gaze, from the vantage point of a bridge, in the direction of the queue after you're done. You might discover your queue was the one pushing in after all - and those people hadn't been exaggerating when they said they'd waited hours.
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