At the moment I live right out in the sticks, in a land far, far away known as Zone 3.
A cab fare home from Central London is very expensive and must only be used in an emergency (apparently being tired and tipsy is not an emergency) so recently I have been rediscovering the delights of the London night bus.
Funnily enough, the first place I lived in London was West Ham which is near where I live at the moment and one of my first jobs in London was working on the door at Turnmills nightclub in Farringdon.
I got paid £25 a night to work from 10pm-2am and once the shift was over, you guessed it, I had to board the night bus home.
It probably wasn’t the best idea for a small-town girl from Sheffield to venture across East London alone on a dodgy night bus at 3am but I didn’t really see an alternative.
Barring city dwellers, the super-rich and teetotal drivers, everyone out after midnight in London has to get the night bus as the tube has stopped running.
I always feel sorry for the drivers. Their faces are grim and weary and they look as though they want to kill every single one of their passengers, followed by themselves.
On a typical night bus you can expect to meet the following people:
A posh girl vomiting into her handbag
I am always rather impressed she would opt to cover her purse, phone and makeup bag in puke rather than vom on the floor.
A chavvy girl starting a fight with somebody
I was held up for almost two hours on the early hours of New Years day this year while a chavvy girl stalked up and down the bus fighting with the bus driver, her friend and every passenger who dared approach her.
From what I could gather she had made the driver stop but couldn’t quite remember why. She had lost her phone or had it stolen and had possibly been assaulted, harassed, or disrespected, but she couldn’t really remember any of the details, and it didn’t seem to be at all related to that particular bus journey.
Up and down the lower deck she marched, swearing, gesticulating and yelling at us all that we must call the Old Bill. The Old Bill did eventually come and took her off the bus. All of us cheered and gave her a wave.
This shocking video sums up the darker side of the night bus:
Some jolly men singing
They are often Italian and can sometimes get the whole bus singing. Great fun. This is the night bus at its best:
A couple fighting
It can’t help that home is a long, cold bus journey away rather than in a nice, cosy cab.
Somebody jabbering to themself and twitching
Where have they escaped from?
Someone passed out who missed their stop hours ago
I wonder what the bus driver does if he can’t wake them up?
One time I boarded the night bus after work without noticing a tramp fast asleep on the back seat. He woke up and tapped me on the shoulder, asking if I could spare any change and I was so startled I gave him ten pounds.
That was also the night I was too tired to walk home from Stratford and paid ten pounds for a minicab to West Ham, ending a long night’s work with a grand total of five pounds.
I remember treating myself to a luxury fruit salad from M&S and telling myself that one day I will buy myself fruit salad from M&S every day without thinking twice about it, and when that day arrives I will have made it.
Until that day comes, I will continue to board the night bus.