Christian Donlan -
When the novelist Thomas Pynchon spent a few years in the US Navy in the 1950s, he noticed something strange happening to the men he served with. "I had noticed how in the military voices got homogenized into one basic American country voice," he writes in the autobiographical essay that accompanies Slow Learner, his collection of early stories. "Italian street kids from New York started to sound like down-home folks after a while, sailors from Georgia came back off leave complaining that nobody could understand them because they talked like Yankees." Pynchon refers to this phenomenon as the creation of a "uniform service accent", and I found myself thinking about that at Brighton train station over the weekend. I was in the queue for the coffee stand, and I heard a man ahead of me telling his friend on the phone that he was "Oscar Mike".