Night buses are mystical places. They’ve played a starring role in Harry Potter, been the focus of their own reality TV show, and have the uncanny ability of attracting the weird, wonderful and downright drunk inhabitants of this fine city. Given the fact you’d be hard pressed to find a better people-watching opportunity if you tried, it’s time to acquaint yourself with the eight sorts of night bus dwellers you’re likely to meet on your nocturnal travels (David Attenborough, eat your heart out).
1. The late-night lothario
There’s always one. After consuming copious amounts of alcohol, this individual is likely to think they're smoother than Bond manhandling a dry martini. The late-night lothario sees his journey as an alternative form of speed-dating, with every stop equating to another potential matchmaking opportunity. It’s pretty much ‘First Dates’ on wheels for this chap. Let’s take the opportunity to make one thing clear; hovering over us to ensure we accept your Facebook friend request isn’t actually going to make your offer of a date any more appealing.
2. The fast-food lover
It may equate to a heart attack in a takeaway box, but fast food and night buses go together perfectly. After all, the night bus is the unofficial meeting place of the hungry reveller and nothing screams 'we’re going home' quite like a mouthful of southern fried chicken. The fast-food lover’s calling card? A pile of half-eaten wings topped off with a limp slice of doner. They're mostly found stinking out the entire top deck.
3. The overly emotional one
Those getting emosh on the night bus generally fall into one of two categories: the silent sobber whose tear-stained cheeks reflect the intensity of their inner anguish, or the I’m-wailing-like-a-frickin’-banshee-until-someone-pays-me-some-goddamn-attention performer. If you do come across this character at any point, please seat them sympathetically towards the back of the bus (preferably next to the sleeping drunk or those hard of hearing).
4. The stand-up comedian
For anyone who has ever told a joke and seen it fall flat, watch this joker give it a second shot on the night bus. Everyone’s inebriated, standards plummet and that last glass of wine just sent their confidence levels through the roof. But if they ever discover a future career in comedy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, they can always jump ship a stop early, and chances are no-one will remember their routine in the morning anyway.
5. The fancy dress-er
Whether they're a hen-do straggler, a casual cross-dresser or simply fancied livening up proceedings with an oversized babygrow, there’s a place on every night bus for bold, revealing and downright bizarre attire. The addition of a stubble-ridden ballerina accompanied by Little Bow Peep – who appears to have lost not only her sheep, but her dignity, friends and oyster card – can only be a sign of a memorable journey home.
6. The silent sleeper
These guys can blame their travel woes on the power nap that saw them wake up at Sutton station without a penny to their name. Those seated nearby will soon become human pillows and need to prepare themselves for the three recovery stages of a sleeper: disorientation, panic and, last but not least, anger. The sultry tones of the TfL lady declaring 'this bus terminates here' have quite literally become their unofficial alarm clock.
7. The 'I don’t know my limits' guy
No night bus journey would be complete without the lingering smell of vomit. This semi-comatose traveller can generally be found propped upright against a damp window, head lolling, whilst emitting indistinguishable groaning sounds only comparable to a dying walrus. Hopes of a hurl-free evening quickly fade as they make their way up Streatham Hill, with the contents of their stomach rapidly winding their way down the isle with a little help from gravity. It’s pretty much the modern day Parting of the Red Sea.
8. The tee-total observer
Now this is a role anyone who is attempting ‘Dry January’ will know all too well. The night bus is a truly magical place, it’s just sometimes difficult to see it when you find yourself being snuggled up to by a sleeper or chatted up by a late-night lothario without having beer goggles to hand. To those negotiating their way to a night-shift, we salute you.