An A - Z
of London

Capital Numbers

An alphabetical guide
to London


A is for 'orses
B is for Bow Bells
C is for 21st Century
D is for Dome
E is for Escalator
F is for Fog
G is for GLC
H is for History
I is for Information
J is for Jellied Eels
K is for Keeping Safe
L is for London Transport
M is for Money
N is for Nightbus
01 for London
P is for Plague
Q is for Queen
R is for Red Route
S is for Streets of London
T is for Thames
U is for Underground
V is for Villages
W is for WestEnders
X is for Charing X
Y is a Year in London
Z is for Zoo

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N

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N is for Nightbus


Many provincial towns and cities pull down the shutters at 17:30, when Dolcis closes for the night and citizens impose a curfew until morning. In some villages the shutters came down in 1730 and will never go up again.

London, by contrast, is a 24-hour community. Shops and restaurants stay open late, nightclubs rave on past 6am, and somewhere, someone is having a lot more fun than you are. There are more people on Oxford Street at 2am than in your normal provincial high street at 2pm. Sadly most of them are loud, drunk and hunting in packs for members of the opposite sex.

The most important reason for Londonís extended living hours is the Nightbus. After midnight, half of Londonís buses carry on running, but with an ĎNí in front of the number and the distinctive smell of kebabs on the stairs. All human life is here, and most inhuman life as well. Of course a cab could get you to your door quicker, but just £1 keeps the night-time entertainment flowing until you get home.


This is the Night Bus crossing the city,
Thirty minute gaps between, more's the pity.
Taxis for the rich, buses for the poor,
Queueing in a mob, then a rush for the door,
Stumbling upstairs, an unsteady climb:
The traffic lights against her, a snail's pace time.
The stench of kebab and half-cooked burger,
Shovelling chips as the bus crawls further,
Arguments blaze and mobiles bleep,
Drunken passengers fast asleep.

(with apologies to W H Auden)