Of all London's bus routes, the No. 4 must be the most maverick. It passes my door. It goes within fifty yards of my central London workplace. But I would no more hop aboard for my daily commute than skateboard, cycle, pogo or resort to any other eccentricity as my daily means of travel.
The route takes you past more north London landmarks than any other: Archway, the Nag's Head, Finsbury Park, Highbury Corner, The Angel, the Barbican, St Paul's, Fleet Street, Aldwych. The only trouble, as the more topographically aware among my blog readers will have realised, is that these resonant locations do not lie in a straight line, nor in a simple dog leg, but in a zig-zag which looks more like the FTSE index during a recession than something linear and functional.
Even off peak, it would be as quick for me to walk to work - it takes a good hour, and I do it a few times a year just for the moral glow - than catch the No. 4. Which is why, when an old friend suggested meeting up after work at a Turkish restaurant in Highbury Barn - "just jump on the 4, it will take you straight there", she said - warning signs should have started flashing.
So all this is by way of an apology to Liz. If I had walked the three miles or so, I might have been on time. Waiting twenty minutes for a 4 (I was puzzled why after such a delay the bus was so empty - but puzzled no longer) and then suffering its diverting but circuitous route, made me seriously late.
But if any out-of-town friend wants an upper deck view of the city without paying silly tourist bus fares, the No. 4 is just what they need. So I suppose it serves a sort of purpose - just not the one it was designed 4.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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