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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Sydney Cockerell


There, Christmas is safely over, without my running down to Cambridge. The road is a tempting one, which explains my thinking of it; but the snow and ice made riding impossible. I hate going to people's houses on Christmas day, because it's a family festival, if a festival at all, and merely a false sentiment for single people. In camp they make it an excuse for eating a lot, and drinking too much, the usual police regulations being lifted, so that drunkenness goes unpunished. Yet at Cranwell this year I have been very fortunate. The rest of 'B' Flight went on leave, so that I have the hut to myself. Sixteen beds at choice. Sometimes I feel like the last survivor of a sinking doss-house. Still it is very pleasant to have a solitary bedroom, and quiet, and lack of talk. I even lent away the gramophone, so that there should be no disturbance, and passed my spare time reading T. S. Eliot's collected poems (he is the most important poet alive) and correcting the proofs of an old-fashioned book you can guess the name of. It's odd, you know, to be reading these poems, so full of the future, so far ahead of our time; and then to turn back to my book, whose prose stinks of coffins and ancestors and armorial hatchments. Yet people have the nerve to tell me it's a good book! It would have been, if written a hundred years ago: but to bring it out after Ulysses is an insult to modern letters - an insult I never meant of course, but ignorance is no defence in the army!

It was very good of you to ask me down: and I would have looked in at tea-time if the road-conditions had been possible. I have no fear of mud or rain: but ice-ruts, with a blizzard continuing on top - No, that's not motor-biking weather. Lincolnshire is a very wintry country: the weather is still awful.

Some time next year I'll try to turn up again for a moment.



I didn't tell you about Lucas, did I? E. M. Forster had him in a room at Kings for me to look at. The man is magnificent, a mental athlete. If he is ever sent down or divorced he will write glorious books. Well worth your knowing.



Source: SCC 363-4 (also, with variant punctuation, DG 488-9)
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 1 January 2006

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