Edwin Layton was a Japanese linguist and cryptanalyst in the Navy during World War Two. As you might imagine, he has a few interesting stories to tell, and lucky for you and me he wrote them down in a book titled, “And I was there,” which I’m reading right now. Favorite story I read today: Layton went to Japan in 1929 to learn Japanese.

When we had a basic grasp of the language, we went to live away from the capitol for a while. My choice was the isolated town of Beppu. Even in remote Beppu I had a “personal” spy who not only dogged my tracks but also pestered my servant, and became a real nuisance. If I went for a walk, my Japanese shadow followed. After a time I began harassing him by going into bars and leaving before he had finished his beer. Then one day I confronted him: “Stop pestering me, and I’ll not leave the bar until you finish your beer. But don’t hang around my house.” The bargain appealed to him, as a beer drinker, and he was less of a bother after that.

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