bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog 

Three Men In A Queue

Dear Rachel

I am writing this on a train.  I travel on trains a lot, and on the whole I enjoy it.  I almost always travel First Class – I think the nation expects it of me – and in any case reading on trains is one of my favourite things, and it is nice to do this in a usually silent carriage.  Very often, I write stuff while on the train too, and one of these occasions is, as we have already established, now. 

The reason I am writing this now is that I have just been to the buffet for tea.  I like to get suitably provisioned before the journey starts in earnest, and when I arrived, the buffet wasn’t quite open.  While I was waiting, I noticed a heterosexual man in a pink shirt also waiting, just in front of me.  It takes a certain type of heterosexual man to carry off a pink shirt confidently – I tried it once with a Fred Perry, and binned it after being called a bender all evening – but this bloke was one of those people, and we acknowledged each other in the Unspoken Language of Men as we waited.  He then nipped off for a second, perhaps to check something at his seat.  At that moment two things happened: the buffet shutter opened, and a Third Man appeared, leant on the counter, and ordered a cup of tea. This constitutes queue jumping, which is a crime against civility, and therefore, perhaps the worst kind of crime there is.

I was happy to let it pass because neither me nor the Man in the Pink Shirt were near the counter itself, but merely loitering in the vicinity at the crucial moment that the Third Man arrived.  As the Third Man’s tea was being prepared, however, the Man in the Pink Shirt reappeared.  I beckoned him to go before me, thus preserving our queue, as I considered that the Third Man had no case to answer, being that there was no tangible overall queue in place when he arrived, and he had the general demeanour and deportment of a decent chap.  The Man in the Pink Shirt said ‘There’s no hurry, after you’ and allowed me to stand in front of him.  He then noticed the Third Man being served and said, very firmly ‘Excuse me – you’ve just pushed in in front of this gentlemen, who, like myself, has been waiting here for quite some time’.  The three of us, strangers hurled together by an unwitting breech of social etiquette, had clearly arrived at a key moment.  The world held its breath.

‘I’m so sorry’ said the Third Man, visibly embarrassed, ‘I didn’t realise there was a queue’.  I wasn’t entirely sure what to do, so I waffled a bit by saying ‘Oh really, it’s fine, I wasn’t paying attention, just looking at the sunshine – nice to see it for once, if only from inside a train’, despite there having been glorious sunshine in southern England for the previous nine straight days, interrupted only by nightfall.  ‘Could you take for this gentleman’s tea as well?’ the Third Man asked the nice auntie type lady behind the counter ‘I’m afraid I accidentally jumped the queue ahead of him’.  I quickly put aside any sneaking suspicions that I may have become the bitch in this curious menage a trois, as after all the Third Man was merely atoning for an entirely innocent and minor breech of social protocol.

I thanked him profusely and wished him good health as he paid and realised that, hang on - the Man in the Pink Shirt was now third in a queue he had started and robustly championed, which didn’t seem right.  ‘In the spirit of things’, I said, ‘I will pay for the Man in the Pink Shirt’s tea’, as I felt this would redress the balance.  This was welcomed by all as a splendid idea. ‘I know’ said the Man in the Pink Shirt, ‘Seeing as we did all get served within about a minute, and I am now the only one not out of pocket, I shall buy some biscuits, as they are roughly the same price as a cup of tea and there are six of them, so we can split them, two each’.  The nice auntie type lady gave each of us a napkin to wrap our biscuits in, and, bidding each other a safe journey, we all went back to our seats, better men than we had previously been.

Twitter: Superfluous social networking medium for the very self indulgent.

Facebook: Holding steady at 116 members in the Facebook group. We’re going to start deleting a person every week until we find someone who notices.


  1. Lynn

    May 30th, 2010
    6:33 pm

    Fabulous! Only, only, only in England……………. Brilliant.

  2. Rachel

    May 30th, 2010
    8:40 pm

    this is some sort of fairy tale in the manner of oscar wilde, surely.

  3. Paul

    May 31st, 2010
    12:29 am

    Yeah, it struck me some time later as the most English dispute ever. Tea and everything. Nice people outraged, but still absolutely nice, are the best.

  4. Paul

    May 31st, 2010
    12:31 am

    Well no. If it were Oscar Wilde, all the protagonists would have been gorgeous. None of these protatgonists, except me, were gorgeous.

  5. Hayley Chalmers

    Jun 1st, 2010
    3:54 pm

    Ah restores one’s faith in ‘nice people do exist ‘ and so they have manners. I wish more people realised that by being nice everyone has a good experience. It could only have been more English by having contained a frofusion of ‘Thank-You’s – or perhaps it did…
    Had it been Oscar Wilde, a fourth man would have been hiding behind a door listening whilst your Third Man told you a secret that could destroy him should it become known…
    BTW – your blog is broke. The website name box won’t let me enter anything.

  6. Kim

    Jun 1st, 2010
    5:03 pm

    Wait, is that comment from THE Rachel, to whom these blogs are addressed…?!

    Anyway, vastly entertaining as ever, ta :)

  7. Paul

    Jun 1st, 2010
    5:23 pm

    Yes, that is Dear Rachel. She was, for about two years, the only person who read these, so I thought I might as well cut out the middle man and just address them straight to her. Lives in Nebraska, you know.

  8. Paul

    Jun 1st, 2010
    5:30 pm

    Ha! I have never read any Oscar Wilde. I tried once, but it was all a bit GET ON WITH IT for my liking. In my experience, most people are quite nice, or at least, not deliberately unnice, which is a reasonable start.

    I have passed on your techinical feedback to Gary. I have less than no idea about all that.

  9. Sola

    Jun 1st, 2010
    6:11 pm

    Well, I, for one, am absolutely charmed, and everyone got cookies out of the deal.

  10. Paul

    Jun 1st, 2010
    8:23 pm

    They were a bonus, yes, and they were shortbread, which I am very fond of.

  11. Gill

    Jun 1st, 2010
    10:50 pm

    Please don’t delete me… My life would be a sorry place indeed without your blog in it. Oh!
    what flavour were the biscuits? X

  12. Paul

    Jun 2nd, 2010
    4:34 pm

    Alright then. The biscuits were shortbread, one of my favourite breeds of biscuit. They go better with coffee, but I am off that at the moment as it is too exciting for me.

  13. Seabreeze

    Jun 17th, 2010
    6:33 pm

    Chocolate digestives.

  14. Paul

    Jun 18th, 2010
    12:14 am

    Shortbread better in tea or coffee. Sorry but it is.

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