There is more than a whiff of all this in a lecture Harold Nicolson (at the time serving in the British Embassy) gave at Berlin University, described by the wife of the British ambassador, Lady Rumbold: He gave a most entertaining lecture in the University yesterday in English, in which he compared the very different character of the English and German. It was half serious and half jesting, and I think left the students high and dry and not quite knowing how to take it. To all of us it was delightful. His description of the English character with its curious shyness, which you meet in no other nationality, was so true. The Englishman instinctively protects this sensitiveness by growing a sort of shell in the form of a particular kind of manner, and code of ‘good form’, sometimes also a superior air vis-à-vis foreigners, which is all calculated to camouflage his shyness. Harold says the English and Germans will never understand each other.

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