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The World Famous Queue of Good Rissington

The queue was fast becoming a life-form in itself. Those within its great snaking length speculated that it must surely be visible from space, possibly even rivalling the Great Wall. Of course, it was nothing like so significant on a planetary scale, but it was certainly the largest queue ever seen in the small town of Good Rissington.

Rumour travelled back and forth along its length, such as the news that an elderly lady near the front had been standing there for five days and nights already, and also that a woman had actually given birth whilst waiting. These were later proven to be wildly untrue, but such stories definitely went some way towards helping pass the time.

Couples took shifts in the queue, swapping with each other in order to facilitate sleep, food and ablutions. One man even wheeled his ageing mother's favourite armchair into the line so she could sit in comfort while she waited. Once settled, she began knitting hats for those around her.

The police were called to maintain order, though in truth the general mood was genial, and several officers assisted with the distribution of drinks and food. They even walked Mrs Green's dog for her, a situation the dog initially found rather disturbing but he took the view that it was nice to stretch his legs and have a change of scenery. He rather blotted his copybook when he mistook the chief constable's leg for a tree but, as the junior officers hastily pointed out, he was an old dog and short of sight. In fact the dog's vision was still reasonably good, he had merely taken exception to the chief constable, a reaction common among humans and dogs alike.

Friendships were formed by neighbouring queuers, and children ran through the line, playing chase and football, and 'Knock John Stibbons' leg off', a game which the police eventually had to halt. John was a gentle fellow who took the game in good part and quite understood the children's fascination with his prosthetic leg, but after his good leg was kicked away from under him a third time everyone decided enough was enough.

And so it went on, for a total of twenty eight hours and forty three minutes, after which time the doors at the front of the queue were finally opened. There was no ceremony, no fanfare, no ribbon cutting, no cameras. There was the ripple of a cheer along the queue, but that quickly choked and withered beneath the glare of the woman with the clipboard who had appeared at the door.

She stared out at the people of Good Rissington from behind wire-rimmed glasses. Her lips were drawn into an angry pout and painted blood red. She wore a black, knee-length pencil skirt with a white blouse tucked in at the waist, and a blue silk scarf tied impeccably at her throat.

'I shall deal with you one at a time,' she announced in a clipped voice. 'Please form an orderly queue.'

This last was greeted with some surprise. Surely that was what they had been doing all along? The people all shuffled about, trying to arrange themselves into as smart a line as possible. Nobody wanted to ruin their chances now. This rather curt woman with the clipboard looked the type that easily offended.

'Mr Wyatt does not permit dogs in his office,' she said, looking pointedly at Mrs Green.

'We'll look after him while you go in,' offered the couple behind the old lady.

Mr Wyatt's secretary stared at them, then made a note on her clipboard. There was a collective intake of breath.

'I think you just earned yourselves a black mark,' whispered the man behind the couple.

'We have spaces for two hundred and fifty. No more. No arguments. I shall admit one person at a time to take down details,' the woman clasped her clipboard to her chest and nodded to the chief constable.

Mrs Green was assisted up the steps, having entrusted her beloved dog to the couple behind her, then she disappeared into the building. Everyone stared up at the gleaming new sign, awestruck and hopeful.

'Isn't it amazing?' gasped the lady holding Mrs Green's dog.

'It is that,' agreed her partner. They stared at the sign until, some five minutes later, Mrs Green emerged and retrieved her dog.

'It's real!' she said with a beaming smile. 'He really is an NHS dentist!'

The queue, which had been waiting with baited breath, erupted with a cheer.


© 2013 Kay Lawrence.


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