Waiting for a queue


Have people stopped queuing for public transport? I’ve been promising myself, since 1974, the year I started commuting, to attend a “travelling in London” assertiveness course; it would seem this is becoming ever more urgent.

On the platform at Bank Station, connecting the Waterloo & City Line to Waterloo, there are markings behind which people would, with their rolled-up umbrellas, bowler hats and copies of the Times, wait patiently for the Drain as it is affectionately called, to arrive.

Not any more they don’t, plus the umbrellas have been replaced by invisible-to-the-wearer back-packs (probably containing a small person), whose sudden movement can remove an eye before you can say Captain Hook. Oblivious, they carry on listening through their headphones to something like “The Clash sing Edith Piaf”.

The markers on the platform are still very much there, but their existence is spurned.

I’ve noticed too that people no longer queue at bus stops.

Historically you’d form an orderly queue behind the bus stop. These days people congregate around the bus stop, mimicking vultures in the Nevada Desert, mentally preparing themselves to see the word “Due”.  This three-letter word pumps adrenalin through passengers’ veins as they lie in wait.

The bus is spotted and it is as if someone angelic host has said “On your marks…”, as there is an almost indiscernible shuffling towards where the bus door will open. The bus arrives and the ensuing pandemonium is on a par with a Boxing Day sale where tellies are suddenly available for under a shilling.

Planes are now boarded by the number on your ticket, this should be introduced for buses with priority given to people who never paid more than ten bob for a Red Rover.

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