Thursday, 28 March 2013

It Must Be Thursday: That Ole Dunkirk Spirit

The ongoing saga of a weekly That-Was-The-Week-That-Was posting.
Commenting on things that caught my attention for better or for worse and left me shaking my fist at the sky and shouting "Whyyyy!!!" 
After all: until science brings us a better use for Thursdays - what else is there to do?

The coach station is full.  Not to the same capacity as the London Underground which often resembles  being pressed into a sardine can, but full enough that a wise person joins the queue for his or her bus as soon as the previous queue has gone if they want to secure a good seat.

It's Friday and no doubt most of these people are going home for the weekend.  Outside the weather is turning bad again (cue chatter about how much warmer it was this time last year) and the corridors of the chilly station are already filling again.

The dour scotsman (who must surely have his cultural cliche card framed and mounted above his bed) comes back into the station, resplendent in his hi-visibility jacket and rather curtly announces over a cracking tannoy that there will be a forty-five minute delay in the coach.

I take a deep breath and sigh, glancing at my watch and resign myself to an extra half-hour of standing in a chilly breeze and moving my weight from one foot to another.  This, I consider, is the Proper British Thing To Do.

I'm standing by the arrivals desk, which is right by the door that I need.  I can see the coach that I will be travelling on from here which does add to the frustration.  A lady approaches the desk and asks in broken English why there is a delay - apparently its because the coach has arrived late and the law states that drivers must have a 45 minute break every 3,000 miles or so.

Which is fair enough - none of us wants to die in a spectacular fireball because our driver fell asleep from fatigue.

Over the next half hour, and despite the constant announcements, an array of customers approach and ask the same questions - why is there a delay, why can't we sit on the coach in the warm.  For my part I mostly sigh and look at my watch, wondering what sort of time I will get home tonight.

It's not the questions I mind - the coach is delayed and people want to find out why - its that a small number of the passengers seem to feel that this has been done deliberately to annoy or frustrate them, that they have a right to demand the coach run on time regardless.  This, I consider, is Not The British Thing To Do.  We are, after all, world renowned for our stoicism in the face of danger and hardship

There are rules around queuing: you join a queue at the back and wait your turn.  Polite conversation can sometimes be acceptable, but generally it is a time for inner reflection.  You don't, however, barge through to the front just because you happen to have a baby strapped to your back - not unless you want to be on the receiving end of a series of hard-stares and "tut"s (rumour has it that the first British reaction to the invasion of Poland was a brisk "tsk")

Time was, of course, that when faced with the thought of rationing, sitting in a bunker together for half the night and having to cycle fifty miles to find work the British would have obliged (or so everyone born before 1950 would have you believe) and done so with a song featuring the refrain "have a banana" in their hearts - but it's hard to imagine any of the customers here accepting rationing of their gas supplies this year if, as the Panic Monger on TV this morning is right and we are going to run out soon if things don't improve.  As things stand the shops only have to close for one day over Christmas and the whole nation panic buys incase there is a sudden depletion in the EU Chocolate Eclair Mountain.

I take a moment to think back to the announcement the previous date by the Minister for Stating The Bleeding Obvious who announced that a scientific study had discovered that certain types of birdsong are relaxing...well, dur.  Nobody in the queue here today seems to be relaxed by the low flying pigeons, with their aim as deadly accurate as any Lancaster Bomber.

Time passes slowly, but eventually they announce the coach is boarding and we are swept away by a tide of people desperate to get on board only to find that a small number of our fellow brethren have actually been queuing right at the door of the coach and have snagged most of the best seats (IE the unobscured window views)

Definately NOT the British Thing To Do


The Bug said...

I would like to apologize for the influence that United Statesians have had on you British folks. Because I'm pretty sure it's our fault. Damn it.

I remember going to the bank in Zambia & learning how to stand in a line properly (although there it was more of a social occasion than what you describe). Unfortunately it didn't take long back home before I was back to my old impatient ways. I do try to be polite though :)

English Rider said...

A post worthy of the old Pixie. In days gone by the station employee would have rounded up the sneaky pre-emptive queu'ers and sent them to the back of the line, their heads hung low in shame. (possibly to the sound track of Rule Britannia?)

Friko said...

I bet the sneaky lot were all foreigners. They simply don’t know the rules and if they do, disregard them entirely.

Whoever said that following the rules got you on the bus first?

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Bug - i think its a whole host of influences, so consider yourselves off the hook

English - yes i have to say there was an intensely british part of me that felt piqued to see people queue jumping

Friko - following the rules certainly has its pifalls