Evidence that bus stops are the place to be if there's nothing good on telly

Just in case you're Across the Pond, here's the definition of a British queue:

a long, long line, often found in supermarkets or banks or post offices or public toilets, of people who are outwardly patient ('No, no, of course, you first, go ahead, you were here before me, yes, yes, of course I don't mind') but inwardly seething ('you dare go ahead even though I've said you can or I'll batter you to death with this frozen lamb joint I just bought').

Of course, you also find queues at bus stops.

Oh yes!  Another bus post!

Here's a picture of a bus to celebrate two things: 1) Another bus post after a bus-less few weeks and 2) the fact that I now know how to include pictures.

So, here's the story.  There's me and Husband, heading for the bus stop to go shopping last Saturday.  I'm wearing my normal Saturday wear: plunge neckline gold sequinned ballgown, pearls and a fur wrap, and he's in his usual garb of cordorouy trousers, old coat and -

Sorry, I need to take a short break before I can bring myself to say this.  In fact, I'm not even going to say it.  I'm going to find a picture of one ....

And just to prove that my computer obviously feels just the same way as I do about the Husband wearing a c*p, even though he is only in his early 50s, this is the nearest to the picture of the c*p it would allow me to type.  I tried to type right underneath it, to the right of it, but, no.  I had to leave a great big g*p under the c*p.

Here is a picture of 

no, not the Husband, but what it does demonstrate is what wearing tweed flat c*ps can do to a man.

Fortunately, it hasn't quite got that bad yet.  But (and you're probably wondering by now what all that queue stuff was about) it does GET YOU TO THE FRONT OF THE QUEUE.

 But is this something for me to be happy about?  No, it is not.  I am only 47.  Granted, I lied about the ballgown and fur wrap, but last Saturday I looked as normal as a 47 year old can.  As in, not OLD.

And, yet, because I was with Fl*t C*p M*n, a girl of about fifteen, who should know better at her age than to show respect to her elders (what are things coming to?), gestured us onto the bus as though we were a couple of octogenarians.  I demurred.  She insisted.  I tried to get her to go in front.  She insisted again, her eye on the fl*t c*p.  

'Right, that's it,' I sn*pped *t Fl*t C*p M*n when we got on the bus.  'Th*t's the l*st time I'm coming shopping with you on a S*turday if you're going to wear th*t Fl*t C*p.'

I know there's a first time for everything, and I know there are reasons why I have wrinkles, flabby bits and a bit of hip pain that had BETTER NOT BE ARTHRITIS.

But I don't want to be allowed on buses yet.  I want to take my proper place in the queue.

But what IS the proper place?  A bus queue is a strange and wonderful thing. In fact, it seems to be different from a supermarket.  People are less stressed (not having nearly slipped in a spill in the pickle aisle or had to control sweet-snatching babies).  They are more likely to respect the queue hierarchies and put up with it.  Or maybe they just pretend better.  

(This is another blog post, really, but I'm just carrying on from the previous one to save paper.)

Bus queues form and then reform and then reform again, depending on who arrives.  The hierarchy is pretty set in stone.  It goes a bit like this.

10.01 Teenage girl at bus stop on own.
10.02. Couple arrives (woman looks quite young and sexy but man wears fl*t c*p).  Young girl steps back so couple now lead.
10.03 Older couple arrives (he wears fl*t c*p, she wears flowered sc*rf tied under the chin) so couple 1 moves back.  Older couple now lead.
10.03 Teenage girl with three young children, a buggy, a breastfeeding baby and a rabid dog arrive.  Everyone else moves back (quickly) so that she and family take the lead.
10.04  Young, healthy looking man but using crutches and with a plaster cast on his leg the size of an ice floe arrives.  He goes to the front and takes the lead.
10.05 Everyone has to move because someone in a wheelchair approaches.  There is a communal intake of breath, but the person in the wheelchair just wants to get past everyone. 
10.10  That done, everyone re-forms into the previous hierarchy.
10.11  Another young, healthy looking man but in military uniform, on crutches and with a plaster cast on his leg the size of an ice floe arrives.  All the old people salute.  The buggy woman's kids stare and ask if he's a terrorist.  The buggy woman tells them to shut their gobs.  He moves to take the lead.
10.12  The bus comes into view and everyone shuffles into a line, preserving the order established.
10.12 + 3 seconds  A blind woman with a white stick approaches the bus stop.  There is general panic.  Everyone knows she NEEDS TO BE AT THE FRONT.  The whole queue shifts chaotically aside and slams itself into the hedge at the side of the pavement.  No one says a word.  (Why does this happen when blind people appear?  Why do we all stay silent and just move out of the way as if we weren't there?)  The blind woman tap taps her way to the bus stop.  Everyone re-forms, as quietly as possible, behind her. 
10.12 + 10 seconds  The bus pulls up at the stop, only the driver stops so that the door is level with the BACK of the queue.


Still, the hierarchies MUST be preserved.  


10.53  Bus leaves the stop.

One day, someone will turn up to the bus stop who is in military uniform, blind, with a plaster cast, a fl*t c*p, a flowered sc*rf, a rabid dog, three kids and a breastfeeding baby.

If they manage to sort that one out - even the British - I'll eat my h*t. Or, alternatively, I'll even agree to be seen out with Fl*t C*p M*n.


  1. Brilliant, just brilliant.

  2. Wonderful account, Fran!

    As George Mikes said, "An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one."

  3. Oh that did make me laugh, early 50's is definately TOO young for a fl*t c*p. Bloody hell I'm almost f*fty God help me!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Very funny. One of the biggest shocks of my life was at a bus stop in Germany. It was raining (inevitably) and there were a multitude of stout, older (than me at the time) women with umbrellas. When the bus came there was a full on charge of the Valkyries and much pushing and squeezing to get on the bus. There are jokes in German about what English folk do when they see a "schlange" (queue and snake are interchangeable words). Much laughter follows at the image of Brits standing in line behind a snake.

  5. Thank you for such a good laugh, I prefer the push and shove method to board a bus. As for the c-p, they should only be available to those showing an O.A.P card.

  6. Oh gawd, Fran....once I got to 'plunge neckline' I was done for. Great peals of laughter over here in Provence. Thank you, thank you. I needed that.

    But honestly, what's so bad about them? I LOVE them! Makes me think of me dad at the wheel of the family car, the MGB. And I'm even trying to convince my Belgian sleeping partner to wear one, but he's resisting. I don't understand why.

  7. Invisible Woman - glad you enjoyed it! Actually, are you really invisible? You would be well away in a bus queue.

    Moptop - love that quote.

    Eliza - I'm glad you feel like th*t about the fl*t c*ps. I'm not alone, then. Mind you, he could change to a beret or a top hat and that could be even worse.

    English Rider - funny! I love the snake/queue link. Mind you, if a snake arrived at my bus stop, I think I might just walk into town instead.

    Linens and Royals - so you're a push and shove person, are you? Remind me not to go to town at the same time as you.

    Deborah - you are so appreciative! As for the fl*t c*p thing, I'm with your Belgian.

  8. I'm with you on the fl*t c*p. They're everywhere here, but mostly on older men outside pubs, and are often twinned with nicotine-stained moustaches. Not a good look. Maybe you need a plastic Rainmate to go out in its company?

    I love a tidy queue, so long as it moves and isn't a mile long with an atmosphere of panic. Remember those Christmas Tesco tills and people having to abandon their melting ice cream and frozen veg?

  9. Funny thing about queues. A student once told me that she and some friends had pinched a 'Queue Here' sign. They carried into the city and planted it in the shopping precinct. Within only a few minutes, people were forming an orderly line behind the sign.....without knowing what they were actually queuing for!

  10. what's wrong with a flat cap? I thought that's what English gentlemen habitually wear and not just at bus stops. They certainly do in the country. To go with their knobbly sticks and brogues.
    If I ever move back into a town where they actually have buses, could I come for a lesson in etiquette?

    Before I forget, what did you do with the olives?

  11. This really made me laugh. And I sympathise, my partner also wears such a cap. He lost it a while ago (actually I threw it away) but then he went straight out and bought another one!

  12. None of this holds true for an EasyJet queue , unfortunately . Those who are going on a stag night/weekend get to the front , closely followed by three people who've mislaid their travel documents and a man Who Travels This Route Every Weekend .
    The rest shuffle meekly behind .

  13. SmitAndSon - Are you in 'the rest' category, then? You sound resigned, if not bitter. That's the problem with going anywhere. You meet other people. If not for that, it would be fine.

  14. Rachel - melting icecream and frozen veg, abandoned by a checkout. Not a happy picture, that one.

  15. Martin - that's a great story. It's like that urban myth that says if you stand in a city square and look upwards for long enough, everyone else will stop and look, too. I would love to have the guts to do that.

    Friko - I've put the olives in the c*p. It's called aversion therapy. I'll let you know if it works.

    Lizzie Love - that's the problem with partners. They do have a habit of wanting their own way. Most inconvenient, I call it.

  16. I'm glad you've learned how to post pictures, but that last one is confusing. I fail to see what a pile of nonpareils has to do with queues or buses.

  17. Mark - forgive me my 'dur!' moment. What?

  18. My friend Tom is blind AND wears a fl*t c*p (even though he's a nipper of 46). Should I tell him the fl*t c*p is unnecessary as he already has pole position? He always travels in first class on a second class ticket - and no-one ever makes him move!

  19. It's always the same : you don't see a post about buses for ages and then a whole load come along at the same time. I haven't got a fl*t c*p at the moment but your post has made me want to seek one out. If your husband is getting rid of his ...

  20. Brilliant post and so true! The power of the queue must be obeyed!

    Kate xx

  21. It's the Scramble, non ? Actually that extra 'n' just reminded me of a story a French friend told on herself, of having to take a numbered ticket for service at the Iranian consulate in London. She, being French, does not believe in queues. As soon as one of the kiosk windows was available she marched up to it, ignoring everyone else in the waiting room.
    Where is your ticket, Madam?
    I don't have one, she said.
    And why not?
    Because I don't want one.

    Nonplussed, the staff member served her.

  22. Love this post, in fact I want to give it a big squidgy hug. All wonderful, but I love that commentary on the bus hierarchy, most especially the bit where on seeing a blind person everyone has to be as silent as possible as they move out of the way. What is that all about, as it is so true!

  23. brokenbiro - right, that's it. A challenge. Anyone know anyone under 46 who wears a fl*t c*p?

  24. Alan - it's in the post.

  25. Kate - maybe that's why 'queue' and 'queen' begins with the same three letters..... they are both to be obeyed at all costs.

  26. Deborah - is there another way, apart from queues? How do the French manage in shops etc?

  27. Jayne - hug away. My posts like to feel loved.

  28. Alan's comment made me laugh.

    The French make it SEEM as though they 'faire la queue' but in fact they're always eyeing each other to see if they can move up and nudge somebody out of line. Having done that they avoid any eye contact whatsoever. They're not orderly about it, in my experience, and they don't do a proper line anyway but a raggedy gaggle.

    Oh and my youngest son's best friend wears one of those things, and he's only 22!! Mind you, he's Canadian so that might explain something.

  29. Deborah - Raggedy gaggle is a great new phrase for a disorderly queue. We should adopt it immediately.

  30. If you were almost 66 instead of a 47-year-old in a ballgown, you'd be wiping just a tiny bit of drool away from the corner of your mouth right now, because that's what happens when I laugh hysterically over something I've just read. (Nothing else happens; I'm sitting down. Thank God.)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Reasons why Fran is desperately in search of earbuds

Reasons why Fran can now forgive the ironing board incident

Evidence that overflowing Tupperware cupboards aren't the only problem later life brings