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T. E. Lawrence to his mother


[Karachi]

16.vi.27

I was glad to get your letter at last. I'm sorry you tried to write to me before, but hope there was nothing in the letters which the man who got them shouldn't read. Here the important parts of the address (which you got quite right) are E.R.S., the engine repair section in which I work, and Drigh Road, the village seven miles from Karachi, where E.R.S. is situated. Drigh Road is quite in the country, which here is a mixture of desert and slum. If we want to go to Karachi we have to go by train: but I made up my mind soon after I got here that I would not leave camp. So I limit myself to the two or three square miles of the camp and aerodrome. It was as well you did not ask me to come to Bombay! I will not even go down to the station here!

My work? E.R.S. overhauls the aero engines, after they hate done so many hours service in the squadrons on the frontier. They have given me a semi-clerical job, to follow the various engines as they pass through the shops, and record what changes and spares and repairs and adjustments each requires. This is my main job, but it is supplemented with others. We work only five hours a day, and have whole holidays on Thursday and Sunday: except that there are sometimes compulsory church-parades on Sundays. In India the R.A.F. unfortunately is part of the military establishments, so there are many stupid ceremonies and public performances for which we have to turn out and pretend to be soldiers. That causes a lot of bad feeling amongst the airmen.

What else? Nothing to speak of. I came out here to avoid the publicity which would inevitably be fanned up by the sale of Revolt in the Desert. In this I have succeeded excellently. There is not enough local press to bother me: and the local people who might try to see me are not allowed into camp, and I never go out. So only the airmen know of my existence, and they are too used to me, as a daily object, to be interested in a reputation which comes to them as a faint echo from the London papers. Very few of them read books: fewer still read any but the English provincial papers which their parents send them. Consequently I am not bothered by anybody at all. The officers steer clear of me, because I make them uncomfortable. It is very good to be left so much alone.

So far as Revolt in the Desert is concerned, it has done its job perfectly. My debt is paid off, and the mortgage on Chingford extinguished. Clouds Hill is let, for about 12/- a week, which is good for an unfitted cottage. Pole Hill brings in £1 a week. So they both pay for themselves, and I have no trouble with them. Richards looks after Pole Hill, and a Sergt. Knowles, of the Tank Corps, after Clouds Hill. I'm afraid neither place would be any use to you. They are both too rough and isolated.

I wonder what you and Bob will do. Low blood pressure is a good thing, in reason: but he is probably tired, and will want a rest. He has been away so long that England will have become strange to him; and that is a pity, for there will of course be no question of his going back to China

N.

The Kenningtons (two children now) would be glad to see you. They live at Morton House, Chiswick Mall, W.4, near their old home. Also Mrs. Bernard Shaw is an independent interesting straight-forward person, if you feel a wish to go about. I can't think of anyone else. Herbert Baker (now a Sir) you already know. Hogarth is the only other person I write to often.

Source: HL 366-7
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 12 February 2006


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