The queue continuum

Once there was a queue in the capital, a queue across the capital, a queue through the capital – now the queue is the capital. The queue stretches downriver for miles – how many miles is uncertain; rumours and estimates vary. Once there was a queue to join the queue; now it has at last achieved equilibrium, those joining matching the number reaching its conclusion so the queue remains of a steady length. By day the queue edges along; by night it hunkers down, in coats, blankets, sleeping-bags or just huddled on the paved riverbank. There are queues to see the queue. Somewhere in the queue stand Owen Transgressor, Molly Rover, Robin Hood, Hildegard of Bingen, Tuesday Weld, but it makes no sense to speak of individuals within the queue; the queue has become an entity itself. A rival queue now progresses along the river from the other direction – started no doubt by someone, or some group, with a sense of humour, at Kew. There are queues now to see this queue too. There is a tributary queue along the bank of the Regent’s Canal, sideshoots leading to the zoo, Madame Tussaud’s, the market at Camden, which now sells almost exclusively souvenirs of the queue. There is talk in the queue, some outraged, some impressed, of copycat queues forming in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Rome – even in New York, Bangkok and Shanghai. Few now remember the origin of the queue, its purpose or meaning, and even among those few recollections vary so that while the queue, for the most part, remains orderly and well-mannered, altercations do occasionally break out within the queue over why the queue is there. The queue simply is, as the queue has always been, the queue. Books are written in the queue, and by people who have never seen the queue, though the number of those is steadily falling. Paintings are made in and of the queue, music both performed and composed in and for the queue, shelters and refreshment stalls erected to serve the queue, poems compiled in honour of the queue. Though comprising a slowly shifting population of innumerable minds, the queue is of one mind, its function that of life itself, simply to perpetuate and replicate itself. The queue is all that is known, all that need be known. Nothing is that is not the queue.




Aidan Semmens



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