Chevening Scholars have inadvertently set the world record for queueing by collectively clocking up 345,248 hours of queueing time in the eight months that they’ve been in the UK, according to figures released today by Chevening’s Department of Single File Analysis (DSFA).

Queueing, which is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘patiently spending an unnecessary amount of time studying the back of someone’s head until you eventually emerge as the person whose head is being studied but who has no head in front to do the same to’ has become recognised as a very British quirk.

‘Since coming to Britain, I have established myself as a world class queuer,’ commented one Chevening Scholar from China. ‘Although the Brits think of themselves as gold medal-standard queuers, the truth is that no one can queue better than I can – and I will prove that by using my training in Britain to represent my country at the 100 metre queue finals in Rio. I will bring that gold medal back to Beijing,’ she added. ‘I’ve been training very hard of late, sometimes going to London Bridge at evening rush hour just to join a queue. Once I get to the front, I take the train to Heathrow Airport to queue again. Once I get to the front, I take the train back into town and find the busiest cocktail bar and queue there. Britain is the best place in the world to train for this.’

Another scholar, who is studying an MA in ‘Why Brits Apologise For Everything’ at LSE, spoke about his own experience of this great British tradition: ‘We have this saying in my country, “When people join together, great things can be achieved”. But this only made sense when I came to London and, on the annual hot day, I joined a queue for ice cream. Great things were certainly achieved that day, as the vanilla ice cream with a flake that I received at the end of it was the best I’ve ever had, and well worth the four hours I spent in line for it. I also got sunburnt – I didn’t even realise this was possible in the UK – but I treated that as a badge of honour.’

‘Once I joined a queue and I didn’t even know what it was for. It just looked so long and exciting, that I thought that I just had to be a part of it,’ commented a scholar from Ghana. ‘When I finally made it to the front, I was delighted to receive a voucher for a free cottage pie at a new restaurant. It was the best day of my life. I went to the restaurant, queued to enter, then queued to put my coat in the cloakroom, then queued to place my order whilst redeeming my hard-earned voucher. I waited 30 minutes for the meal to arrive and when it did, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to eat it. I’m a vegetarian. But I didn’t mind – the real joy was in the queueing and the waiting.’

Hannah Long-Lines, Head of the DSFA, commented that it was remarkable how quickly this year’s scholars have adopted this particular British custom:

‘This has truly been a record year for queueing. Not only have we seen huge increases in the frequency of queueing amongst our scholars, we’re also noticing a trend towards higher quality queueing,’ she added. ‘This accomplishment is the latest in what can only be described as a long line of achievements by recent Chevening Scholars.’