MARION SAUVEBOIS gets in line for a very special feast at a village pub...

AH, queue-jumping...if we're honest we've all done it. Not brazenly shoving a poor nan out of the way - we're not animals - but loitering strategically close to the boarding gate at the airport, cheekily 'merging' with the snaking line rather than traipsing to the back as social etiquette dictates.

And there is an art to this harmless deception.

The key is hair-trigger timing and oodles of confidence: casually sidling up to the paragons of patience biding their time single file and claiming your spot, as though they were just watching it for you.

Of course, such wanton audacity (and quasi-guaranteed results) is only possible in the UK, the land of civility, for better or for worse.

In, say, France, pushing in front of someone would be nothing short of criminal, and soon descend into a melee, with the perpetrator manhandled to the back of the queue, where he rightfully belongs.

In these parts, where pointing out any uncouth behaviour amounts to sacrilege, you can pretty much walk up to anyone and they'll apologise profusely for getting in your way.

And this was duly confirmed at the Biddestone Arms' pie night, a charming country pub in the village of the same name near Chippenham - where we decided to put our theory to the test. But let's not get ahead of ourselves quite yet.

The principle of pie night is simple enough. Get set, on your marks, form an orderly queue at the carvery-style serving station... and chomp.

Each month the fuss-free eatery puts on a supersize display of six of its award-winning pies and diners are invited, nay, egged on by chefs, to scoff as much as their bellies can stomach for £15. The record, the head honcho informed us with glee, was 14 slices washed down with four pints of cider no less.

Message received. We were young, famished, notorious gluttons (some of us anyway), and we could already taste the sweet gravy of victory. How hard could it be? More on that fallacy later.

We were spoiled for choice with a winter-warming meat feast of game and thyme, lamb and mint, beef cheek and red onion, chicken chasseur - to throw in a little continental flair - ham hock and pease pudding and for vegetarians and free- from peeps a mixed bean pie slathered in creamy blue cheese and swaddled in gluten-free pastry.

But there is one caveat to pie night: every plate must be licked clean before patrons can even dream of queueing up again for a second, third or, even, fourteenth helping.

Seated two nifty tables away from the start of the line, it would have been madness to loop round and get back to square one. So two of us strode up nonchalantly to the start of queue and 'merged' without so much as a peep or frown from the hordes of guests already on their feet clamouring for a spot of dinner.

Keen to follow suit but loath to appear rude, our token Scot pretended to walk to the back of the room, only to find an opening two metres behind us and take his chance.

The Southerner, and sole stickler for decorum among us, made his way to the farthest corner of the room, 40-somethingth in line. No huge surprise there. This is a man who, after being served a stomach-turning meal at a Chinese restaurant, which saw us leave our plates virtually untouched, not only smiled politely at the waiter throughout but asked for a doggy bag to spare the chef's feelings - just to dump it in the closest bin seconds after walking out.

Back at base, some sooner than others, we greedily tucked into our pies. The blanket of framed certificates and awards on every wall had whetted our appetites.

Packed tightly with melt-in-the mouth morsels of pheasant, venison and rabbit and beautifully complimented by bursts of thyme, the game pie was scrummy. The crust was still deliciously flaky; a feat considering the thickness of the gravy inside.

Our plates suitably clean, we all pushed in the queue again – the Southerner slowly softening his staunch morals - for seconds.

The moreish lamb pie was a strong contender, and even converted a fussy Northerner with a lifelong dislike of the herb, to mint. As for the ham hock, as moist and tender as the shreds of pork were, the pease pudding was a tad on the bland side. But blandness was not an issue where the creamy chicken chasseur was concerned - I was able to pilfer a bite-size piece before being batted off by my partner. The zing of the tarragon was the perfect foil for the subtle wine sauce.

Two pies and heaps of mash in, our stomachs were feeling the strain. We should have been more sparing with the trimmings in light of the 'clear your plate first policy'. The shredded beef cheek gave us a second wind, but not for long. Full beyond reason, two of us called it quits, reconciled to the fact we would never come close to the mythical super-eater's 14-slice feat.

The other two bravely powered on through. The queue had died down by that point and they had a clear path to the food station. Filled to the gills, after a fourth and final taste of veggie pie, they bowed out gracefully. It was, all in all, a pretty poor effort. Although we found comfort in the knowledge that we did reach the all-elusive 14, albeit between the four of us. Queue-jumping may have been our downfall.

It’s the greedy amateurs who push for first dibs but the pros who play the long game.

Biddestone Arms

The Green, Biddestone,SN14 7DG

01249 714377

Parking: Yes

Disabled access: No

Advertiser ratings:

Food: 9/10

Choice: 10/10

Décor: 7/10

Customer service: 8/10

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5/5