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Join ICONS on a quest to explore the art of queuing and discover why we are a nation of serial queuers. And crucially, why queues for the ladies’ loos are always longer than the men’s…

The Basics

Have you ever wondered on an average day, how many queues are created, joined, jumped or navigated across the country? Millions probably (and that’s just for the UK’s local post offices and ladies’ loos).

Queue beginnings

The fact that we had to wait in line for early public transport and for rations during both World Wars stands as a very good indication of how and why queuing embedded itself as a national pastime. As a result of everyone having places to be and bellies to fill, the queue became a necessary part of our social order. Of course the same could be said for a number of countries across the world, so we investigate why Britain in particular took queuing to its bosom and turned it into a custom that is known the world over as being so quintessentially English.

An English custom?

It is impossible to pinpoint exactly who invented the art of the queue, or where. But many would agree that it was most probably an Englishman. Queuing has unequivocally earned itself the reputation as an iconically British idiosyncrasy, but the interesting question is why? Do we really queue in a better fashion and more often than our foreign friends? Is the land of Hope and Glory really the home turf of queuing? And why is it that queuing plays such an integral role in our social make-up?

The 'Joy' of Queuing

There is an art to waiting in line, and queuing can - believe it or not - become a pleasurable experience if you adopt the right stance. Nevertheless, don't be fooled, queue rage, queue hierarchy and downright queue boredom are blighting queues across the country every single day. And if you thought queuing wasn't worthy of deep thought and research, think again. Queuing theories exist (well of course they do) and are actually rather interesting, albeit ridden with complex formulas and numerous graphs (of which we won't bore you with don't worry!)