So much for the stoic Yorkshire stereotype. Apparently, Londoners are prepared to wait the longest without complaining – 12 minutes and 12 seconds.
At first, I found this particular fact difficult to believe, having lived in the capital for a good part of my life and witnessed the frantic pace. But then I thought about it for a bit, and recalled that although you might end up seething inside pretty much every time you leave the house, there is something about London which makes you put up and shut up.
I think it's because no-one talks to anyone else anyway, and any sign of weakness is seen as an open invitation to passing nutters, or possibly, an incitation to violence.
No danger of that in Barnsley. Perhaps it's something to do with the dismal performance of Barnsley FC of late, but I actually look forward to our established half-time ritual of queuing for a cup of tea for me and a Yorkie bar for my son, Jack.
You never know who you might bump into. Sometimes it's friends
from away who have come home to watch the match, sometimes it's one of my various cousins, always up for a moan about formation, sometimes
it's children Jack knows from playing football. It's not just me who finds this delightful. Jack loves it when he sees someone he knows. I think it makes him feel part of something bigger than himself.
And even if we don't see anyone to say hello to, I like to just stand there and observe. I do this all the time.
The early morning train station is best for this kind of people-watching. These little vignettes of life are a treat. The game old birds off with their pull-along suitcases to Blackpool.The young African man, serious in his suit, the elderly Irish chap, a bit frayed around the edges, counting out his pound coins.
Where is everybody going? What are their hopes and fears for the day? Sometimes I get so engrossed in watching them I forget why I am there and suddenly have to scrabble in my bag for my purse to buy my
Then everybody behind me tuts. That's one of the things that annoys us most about queuing, according to this survey. We hate people dawdling and "faffing about" in front of us. The survey, incidentally, was undertaken by the Payments Council, and you can see why.
It found that eight out of 10 people now choose to pay their bills electronically to avoid standing in queue after queue at the bank and building society. It also found that our least favourite places to queue are the supermarket and the Post Office.
Well, because I avoid going until the freezer is almost bare, I don't mind queuing at the supermarket. I hate trailing around the shelves so much, I usually wait until I can take my five-year-old daughter Lizzie with me for company. And it's worth it then, because she loves to unpack the trolley and load the conveyor belt, and pass the time of day with the cashier and anyone else in nattering distance as we work our
way up the queue. That's one of the reasons why me and Lizzie determinedly avoid those self-service tills.
We don't like the anonymity. And I can't get my head round that stupid scanner thing, so anyone behind me hoping for a swift exit would be
better off joining the end of a line of trollies.
So perhaps it's not so much that I like queues, but that I choose my queues carefully. I must admit, I do so much financial stuff and shopping online these days, it drives me mad when I come home from an expedition and realise just how much time I have spent waiting to be parted from my cash.
And here is the serious point. It's not so much the queuing that drives us mad, it's the lack of service. There are certain shops which seem incapable of putting more than one person on the tills at once. The queue snakes along the barriers, past the knickers and bras, almost into menswear, and you're still stood there, while some hapless assistant concentrates furiously on restocking the "sweets for a pound" at the front of the counter.
She doesn't look up, she doesn't make eye-contact, and meanwhile lunch-hours evaporate, children remain uncollected from school, and still you're stood there, helpless, as her sole colleague tries valiantly to deal with gift vouchers, wonky PIN numbers and random phone calls from customers shopping from home.
You can see why people do shop from home. But avoid shops, and
you avoid towns. Avoid towns and they die. And then there will be no towns, and no shops. Just a thought for you to muse on, next time you're stuck in a queue.