Werner Volkmann was a Berliner by birth. I'd come to school here as a young child, my German was just as authentic as his, but because I was English, Werner was determined to hang on to the conceit that his German was in some magic way more authentic than mine. I suppose I would feel the same way about any German who spoke perfect London-accented English, so I didn't argue about it.
'Are you in charge?' she asked.She had the exaggerated upper-class accent that shop girls use in Knightsbridge boutiques.'I want to know what I'm charged with. I warn you I know my rights. Am I under arrest?'
'It's good to see you, Bernie,' he said as he released my hand. 'We were in the other house the last time we saw you. The apartment over the baker's shop.' His American accent was strong, as if he'd arrived only yesterday.
George Kosinski was thirty-six years old, although most people would have thought him five or even ten years older than that. He was a small man with a large nose and a large moustache, both of which looked inappropriate, if not false. The same could be said of his strong cockney accent to which I had to get freshly attuned each time I saw him.
He hates me, you know. He can't bear anyone he knows hearing that I'm his son-in-law. He's ashamed of me. He calls himself a socialist, but he's ashamed of me because I don't have the right accent, the right education, or the right family background. He really hates me.
His face was very pale and rotund, with small eyes, like two currants placed in a bowl of rice pudding. He had a powerful singsong Welsh accent. I wondered if it had always been like that or whether he wanted to be recognized as the local boy who'd made good.
'Mine,' said Bret. 'It was my idea. Stinnes was doubtful, but my American accent will give me the cover I need. With Stinnes alongside me to give all the usual guarantees they won't possibly suspect me as an agent working for British security.'
It wasn't just the use of the first name, but the casual and overfamiliar way in which Morgan spoke that was so annoying. The Welsh accent could be a delight for reciting poetry, but it was an accent that could make even the friendliest greeting sound like a jeer.
'There's a gentleman to see you.' He said it in English. I suspected that he'd got it from one of those film butlers because he had exactly the right accent and inflection whereas the rest of his English was appalling.