There’s a special gate in hell

I’ve learnt a few things during my time in England. queue

Some people (yes, thank you dear!) would say I’ve become a little more refined. Not quite so ‘Kiwi country cousin’. I’ve learnt to shine a little less, and not bound up to strangers to say ‘hello’, like a Labrador on heat. I’ve learnt to curl the lip, and walk on by.

I’ve learnt many other things too. Brollies are not carried for unseasonable weather, they’re useful in making space in a crowded train carriage; the right side of the escalator is for standing and the left is for bounding down; and one must flash one’s headlights to acknowledge when another driver has given you right of way. I have learnt many more finer points of English etiquette besides, but on Saturday I made the one, Big Mumma of a faux pas.

Oh yes, hell has a special gate for the likes of me. I didn’t entirely mean to, it just sort of happened…like ..this..

My Englishman and I were at The Tate Modern and decided we would grab some tickets for the Damian Hirst exhibition, so we followed the crowds to the ticket counter. It was a civilised set up. They had those elasticated ropes winding a path to the counter.

I’ve always wondered about the logic of that. Is anyone taken in by the long and winding path? Do we really believe queuing around corners will help keep us calm, in the holding pattern? I think, they’d be a lot better off providing entertainment. A couple of buskers. Or two. Maybe even some nibbles, glass or three of Prosecco…

It was an organised, civilised set up, and I think that’s what flumoxed me. There were two counters open, so I obviously (no flies on me) went for the one with the shorter queue. Only me, mind you, my Englishman had the good sense to stand by as if all was well.

He. watched. me. commit. social. suicide.

Before long I had reached the counter. But something was amiss. Oh no, call the engines, fire, fire…An apoplectic woman with a furious bob was flapping.

“This woman was in the wrong queue!” She blustered.

“She mistakenly thought this was the pick up ticket queue.” Well stone the crows Sheila!

She glared the point home. I turned red and shrank a little. I’m only 5 1 and a 1/2 inch, so after shrinking with embarrassment I found it difficult to look over the counter.

I smiled apologetically at the other woman, with a smile that is internationally recognised code for ‘Uh oh, I f-ked up please help!’

“Oh never mind,” the nice woman, who had obviously graduated cum laude from her Jubilee year ‘be-nice-to-tourist’ classes, placated.

It was not smart. It was not clever. But then I did something really rather wrong. I dug deep for my good old Kiwi accent (it was lying discarded on the bedroom floor of my subconscious) and sheepishly said;

“Oh dee-uh. Suh-ree abt thit. Too-rists eh?” The Asian woman behind growled her discontent (‘But we’ve been waiting for ages!’)

I know. There’s a special gate in hell for people like me.

Question is, will that gate have a queue, too?


Image: Flickr CC


'There’s a special gate in hell' has 16 comments

  1. May 16, 2012 @ 12:40 am Russell V J Ward

    Oh you are in so much trouble. How could you? I love situations like that, particularly when I come out on top. I hope the lady in question didn’t completely lose her top (bob).


    • May 16, 2012 @ 6:25 am vegemitevix

      It took all my self-control to not burst out laughing. Such a silly thing. Meh! Like’s too short.


  2. May 16, 2012 @ 1:15 am ChaoticallyMe

    Oh noes! The Brits just “get” queuing don’t they! It was one of the first things I noticed after dragging myself off the plane to Heathrow. They continue to amaze me 3 years on…how on earth do they instinctively know a) which line is the correct one, and b) where the darn thing actually begins and ends? No questions needed and no pausing to assess the situation, they just seem to magically find themselves in the right place. I love that you laid on your kiwi accent nice and thick 😉 lol.


    • May 16, 2012 @ 6:25 am vegemitevix

      I think it’s an overdeveloped herd mentality. I really do. We’re all so super dooper indendent Down Under – we’re all indiv-UD you alls, eh!


  3. May 16, 2012 @ 1:44 am expatmum

    Oh I can still lay on the thick British accent (“Oh, I’m TERRIBLY sorry”) whenever I do something like that.
    My best stupid foreigner thing was years ago at my first Southern American wedding, where guests are all escorted down the aisle, – females by the grooms men. I got to the top of the aisle and completely ignored the very well-dressed young man who was sticking his elbow out at me for some reason. It was only when I overheard my husband explaining “She’s British”, that I realised I was supposed to wait for nice young man to walk me down the aisle!


    • May 16, 2012 @ 6:23 am vegemitevix

      Gotta love em eh. Foreign husbands. Tsk! That is an unusual custom I must say, think I would have messed that one up too.


  4. May 16, 2012 @ 4:00 am uniquenique

    Aah well in some instances having an accent helps – I wonder just what accent would work though if you got the wrong queue at the gates of hell?


    • May 16, 2012 @ 6:23 am vegemitevix

      Excellent question! I’ll let you know when I get there. ;-p x


  5. May 16, 2012 @ 8:09 am Glenn Watson

    I hover near the counter in shops until a queue forms, then casually walk off… It’s a great sport! I don’t mind joining you in hell.


    • May 16, 2012 @ 10:31 am vegemitevix

      All those with a sense of humour welcome Glenn, thanks for commenting.


  6. May 16, 2012 @ 4:47 pm MidlifeSinglemum

    We bypassed that whole queueing thing here in Israel. We went from total bedlam, elbow shuvving, survival of the strongest, unfair, surging forward and crushing old ladies and children, uncivilized barbarianism to having to take a number for everything and watch the display.
    The queues we do have at the supermarket checkout consist of a line of trolleys left as marker while the owners finish the majority of their shopping. “I’m after you, OK?” thay say as they disappear back up the aisles. I usually try to meneouvre the trolley out the way and then pretend I don’t understand Hebrew when they return to find the queue has grown without their place marker in place.


    • May 20, 2012 @ 10:18 pm vegemitevix

      I love the saving places in the queue thing, we used to do that as kids on the school bus. So funny. Must admit I loved how the Israelis were so forthright when I was over there – they reminded me of Kiwis. ;-p xx


  7. May 17, 2012 @ 3:03 am Glasshalffull

    Just pretend you’re Australian – they can’t tell the difference (especially handy in the States with tipping uncertainty)


    • May 20, 2012 @ 10:16 pm vegemitevix

      No, tis true true they cannot tell the difference, though in all honesty I’m more often mistaken for a South African.


  8. May 20, 2012 @ 9:42 am Kym Hamer

    No I think you just bound on in, elbows out to shove the passive aggressive aside…or at least I hope so.


    • May 20, 2012 @ 10:15 pm vegemitevix

      A woman after my own heart. As they would passive aggressively say in England – ah bless! Vix x


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