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Night Tube: Journeying to work when everyone else is drunk

The launch of London's all-night Underground service, last weekend, was welcomed as a boon to the English capital's vibrant nightlife.

But alongside the boisterous clubbers and carousers were a sprinkling of quieter, more introverted nocturnal travellers with their own, privately held reasons for being on the Tube when most of the city was fast asleep. Their stories help expose a more complex and subtle side to the capital's 24/7 culture.

Giuseppe Cafaro, chef

"We open at 7am for breakfast, so I have to get in [to the restaurant where I work] for about 3:30 to start making the fresh bread. I do the brown, white and the soughdoughs.

"I used to get the night bus. Wake up at 2am, get ready and give myself an hour to get in. I live near Liverpool Street which is not far away [from where I work] but it can take up to an hour. I remember the first time I took a bus at four in the morning and I thought it would be empty. It was full of people coming back from nightclubs - but also people from places like Ecuador and Colombia, going to work. Jobs like cleaners.

"So the Tube for me is lovely. It's much quicker. I can get an hour's more sleep.

"There are a lot of drunk people around when I go in to work. You get to meet people and talk to them. It's this I love about London."


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Find out more

Watch Night Tube: The First Weekend on BBC Three iPlayer from 16:00 BST on Sunday, 28 August (UK only). You can view highlights here.


Dave Lovering-Roddis, from Devon, on 24-hour Tube-athon

"I wondered if anyone had ever done 24 hours on the Tube, Googled it and couldn't find anything. So I thought this was the perfect opportunity. I started at Hammersmith at 04:35 and have been going all day and all night. I had to make up my own rules, so decided I couldn't exit any of the ticketing gates in the 24 hours. My son bought me some food, and I have a map which shows all the toilets on the system inside the ticketing gates.

"Why do it? Because nobody's done it before. I'm Devon born and bred but I just love London. I come up about once a month to see friends or go to concerts. I still get that buzz about coming up to the city. I always find it exciting. I still get excited by the Tube - that waft of the air that comes [as you stand on the platform]. You don't get a smell like that anywhere else.

"I shouldn't get excited by this. I'm a man in his 50s and I've done this (been on the Tube) loads of times. But if you don't get excited by the Underground you shouldn't travel.

"At the end of [my 24-hour marathon] I donated my Oyster travel card to the London Transport Museum. They were a bit bemused I think."

Katie Underwood, night shift volunteer for Samaritans

"It's a sobering contrast - coming off a night shift when you have been talking to lonely people all night, and getting on a Tube train at three in the morning full of people who have been out having a good time. But the reality for a lot of people in this city is that it's really, really lonely.

"We tend to be our busiest between 10pm and 2am... because night time is a really, really difficult time for people. Once you put the phone down you are probably picking it up straight away, so you can be pretty much consistently on calls for five hours which is pretty intense.

"I've volunteered [for Central London Samaritans] for four-and-a-half years. I'm based just off Carnaby Street. We have two night shifts - the 'early watch', which is 10pm to 3am, and the 'late watch' which is 3am to 8.30am. The agreement is you do one night shift every four weeks.

"Before the Night Tube, I might have got the night bus home. But it's not something you necessarily want to negotiate at 3:15 in the morning when you are not entirely with it and probably the only sober person on it. Or you can bed down in the [Samaritans office]. But there's something about just being able to go home and crash in your own bed. You sleep differently."

Omari Antony, 16, 'Tube spotter'

"I had to convince my mum quite a lot to be out on the Tube all night. She's very trusting and she knows I know my way around. Also, I was out with a friend who was older than me.

"The Night Tube is a major achievement. It was quite surreal really. We sort of went through another rush hour at 1am. We saw some strange things. There was a man in a tuxedo with a masquerade mask walking through the interconnecting doors. The Transport Police told him to behave.

"Everyone's got a hobby and trains are mine. I like to call [myself] a Tube-spotter [rather than train-spotter]. I go with friends. I've got a few inside sources so I get to hear on the grapevine when there's a special train or something worth seeing. Hopefully one day I'll grow up and actually get a job on them."

Night Tube: The First Weekend on BBC Three iPlayer from 16:00 BST on Sunday, 28 August (UK only).

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