In chapter 1, Mr. Braithwaite is seated in a red double-decker bus making its way through Aldgate. The bus is crowded, and he notes that most of the passengers are charwomen.
Mr. Braithwaite notices that the buxom, robust women enjoy trading ribald jokes with each other. They pay him little mind, the only male (and black) passenger on the bus.
The woman next to him, Rose, engages in loud conversation with Gert, the woman across from her. Rose hints that she wouldn't mind having Mr. Braithwaite in her bed. However, Gert maintains that Rose has been a widow too long to enjoy the experience. For her part, Rose retorts that one never forgets bed play; it's like riding a bicycle. Meanwhile, Gert good-naturedly tells Rose that she'll send her husband Alfie to her on "one of these nights."
Mr. Braithwaite finds himself marveling at the openness of the women. They, in turn, are surprised that he has understood every word they have spoken.
Soon, Rose gets off the bus at her stop. A well-dressed...
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