London Queues

London Queues by Agnese Sanvito

Coming from Italy, no one queues as the English do and quoting Hungarian-born British author George Mikes “An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one” 

The fascination with the stereotypical English queue starts from a curiosity on how people patiently organise themselves in a fair and orderly line in a variety of settings: boarding the bus or tube, going to a restaurant, getting an ice-cream, visiting an exhibition, shopping the release of a new collection, taking the photo in a prime spot. Within this framework the different quirky behavior and poses to pass the time emerge, people are checking their phones, reading, kissing or simply staring at the line or feeling pleased that the queue grows.

During lockdown, with the empty streets, the queues became a unique signifier in the cityscape. With the two metre gap between everyone, the lines were growing even longer at local groceries, diy shops, post offices, pharmacies and supermarket which I’ve been photographing in my neighborhood in North London. In one instance (Godfrey-Bournes_COVID19) there are actually two queues intersecting, one for the butcher the other for the fishmonger.

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