The binmen still collected the rubbish. The lollipop lady still helped pupils cross the road. The breakfast-television weather girls looked as fake tanned and sacharin cheery as ever. So much for the relaxed alcohol licensing laws turning London into a vomit-laden, glass-strewn war zone. If the truth be told, the 24-hour licensing reform was never going to affect London much. In the capital, you could always drink round the clock, if you wanted to. Unknowing tourists may have been caught out at 11pm, but savvy Londoners knew where to grab a late beer. Central London had hotel bars open round the clock; few barmen asked to see your room key. Private members clubs such as the Groucho or Teatro opened very late, though you had to know a member. Night clubs would often serve till 4am. If you wanted to stay out longer, revellers in the West or East End headed to Smithfield market, where the pubs traditionally open at 4am to serve the meat porters. On a Saturday night/Sunday morning, ravers headed to the flower market at Colombia Row, in Bethnal Green, where the pubs were open at 6am. In Soho the desperate could always pay a beggar a few quid to lead them into the pokey - dingy, illegal basement drinking dens that are usually run by gangs and frequented by London's lower orders. A GBP5 ($66) note would buy a plastic cup of rum and coke and suspicious glares from the tough-faced regulars. If you wanted just one or two more, not an all-night binge, the pubs in Islington had late licences, open till midnight on weekdays, 1am on weekends In once-gritty Shoreditch, the new owners of former strip clubs used the traditional late licences to flog booze late. Pubs like the Apple Tree, in King's Cross, stayed open into the early hours, while kebab houses in Camden or Dalston turned into late-night speakeasys. Soho, too, was full of options. Fifteen years ago, venues started to blur the boundaries between pub and wine bar Pubs became more like bars, while the bars morphed into nightclubs, opening till 3am. There was solace on the way home, too, through the dodgey Cypriot, Indian or Kurdish late-night neighbourhood grocer who, after a quick glance around, would stuff booze into your bag at 3am, albeit with a few samosas. The new laws may or may not call time on all this. But it definitely will end one London institution - the illegal 'lock-in'. Alas, we will no longer feel that frisson of excitement just past last orders when the landlord - busily enjoying a drink himself - draws the curtains and locks the door. No one would be allowed in, or out, until time was called. Cheers.