Sunday, 12 July 2009

Queuing For Banksy

Last Monday, my friend and I went to the Bristol Museum vs Banksy exhibition. We had assured ourselves that the queue, on a chilly Monday morning, would not be too long. Unfortunately, we were suffering from the same mass delusion as the other few hundred people waiting to get in.

And being July in England, men wore T-Shirts, women flimsy dresses and cropped cardigans, as we shivered under a cloudy sky and sporadic showers. Apart from the small smug minority who’d come prepared for a Biblical deluge, complete with knee length pac-a-macs, sou’westers, umbrellas, and in some cases, a lunch box of home made sandwiches and snacks, suggesting that perhaps reports of the queuing time had been over exaggerated.

It wasn’t that bad – about a 45 minute wait, but obviously, we managed to be in front of a possibly the most caustically irritating people there. They were a late thirtysomething couple, divorcees with children, who were at that awkward stage where you’re having sex but not yet a fully established couple.

And I know that they’re having sex because apparently the woman didn’t realise that if you’re talking in quite a loud voice people standing a foot in front of you can hear everything you’re saying, or, more likely, she did know and was indulging the kind of attention seeking ploy that is tedious in a teenager but mortally embarrassing after the age of 25. My mind recoiled from the images conjured in it, like a foot from an ill placed slug.

The guy repeatedly remarked about how she’d told him there wouldn’t be a queue, in a way that was, on the surface, a joke but you could tell underneath he was pissed off and didn’t want to be there and was only doing because he still felt the need to impress her and that in three months time it’d come up in an argument, ‘what about that time you made me stand in the rain for 45 minutes to get into that bloody art exhibition.’

She, however, appeared to be experiencing a queue for the first time. As behoves an English queue outside a museum, everyone was very well behaved, needing no telling to keep to one side of the street or not to cut in or jostle. This did not stop her trying to peer on tip toes towards the front of the line, wondering where the line went (I had to restrain myself from turning round and telling her presumably the entrance after she said this five times in twenty minutes), whether people were cutting in, whether this was the right queue (no, this is the queue for people who don’t want to see the ground breaking art exhibition and instead want to peer at fossils in the museum vaults), why were people all bunched up ahead (where the queue was snaked around the museum entrance), whether the entrance was on that side or this of portico.

By the time we’d got to entrance I’m not sure if I was glad or sad that you can’t carry firearms here.
A twenty something man also attracted my attention because he was wearing a university society T-Shirt, which in the UK is normally a sign of being remarkably socially inept, and had an aura of being extremely peculiar. The kind of person who isn’t aware that his fellow students don’t avoid him because he’s different per se, but because his different in a way that suggests it’s only a matter of time before he’s arrested for flashing people or having dodgy pornography.

I felt justified in my initial judgement when I happened to find myself looking at the same painting. ‘Dogging!’ he loudly and lovingly exclaimed, actually, actually rubbing his hands together like a cartoon Dickensian villain, with a fervour that was enough to make me move rather swiftly to the other end of the gallery and leave him with a remarkably large amount of uninvaded personal space.

(If you don’t know what dogging is, and can’t work it out from the picture, don’t google it.)

More Banksy, and less sarcastic commentary, tomorrow.


  1. Great post. Reminds me of the queueing scene in Annie Hall.

  2. This post caught my eye on Owen's blog because coincidently my name is J AND it's a monday morning AND we've just returned home from the Banksy queue after admitting defeat before we even joined it! Might try later, I hope it'e worth it!

  3. Reading it brought to mind similar experiences of waiting in line (queuing)! Painful and hilarious at the same time...great descriptions!

  4. I stumbled across this whilst searching for intel on how long the Banksy queues actually are. I didn't find the answer, but I very much enjoyed reading the post. Nice writing style.