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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Dick Knowles


[Karachi]

15.9.27.

Dear Dick,

Worthy Down: well, the country about you has great merits, though it is not so different from Dorsetshire. You will find man-life very scruffy and easy after your A.A. service. Grown-ups work less than boys, and enjoy life more.

Winchester used to be a very pleasant place: but it is full of troops and the diseases they bring with them. Not a place to take your ease in, improperly dressed. From Bovington I used to visit it regularly: but always had to keep my overalls on. Rumour out here is that the R.A.F. in England now swank about in raincoats. I hope so.

A.C.I. is not a bad beginning. There is great prejudice among the men against ex-boys of rank. The two classes are so different in tone. The men have enlisted:- which means that they were some way hurt or broken in civy life, to the point of taking flight from it. They all talk of longing to get back: but that is because they have been in the service long enough to forget their previous failure. The ex-boys haven't yet measured themselves against civil standards of existence, and contain a large proportion of the fellows who would have made a success of it. So you mustn't expect the sorts to mix naturally, at first.

Night flying (you are the Virginias, I expect) will be dull and deadly cold, after the first experience: but I'm glad you've struck a flying squadron. In my brief experience, the happy family is the squadron or flight, and the misery of discipline (senseless discipline, I mean) is resident in depots and workshops. Also the flying is a great thing, however dull it may seem to you. People who fly are not the same as people who live on land - if they really fly, with their minds and imaginations, and not merely bodily.

More sermons. Karachi seems to be a sententious place. I go about in fear of this writer's freedom taken with my personality - Robert Graves book on me. He is a good poet, and means most kindly. But heaven preserve me from public-spoken friends. There are to he in the book some pages from Sergt. Pugh. I read these, in typescript - and yelled with laughter which was, for once, happy. It's a picture of a saint, in overalls! Such a quaint saint, too.

1930: March, April or May: and there will be a loud shivering on the quay-side of Southampton: and calls for a hot bath. That will be heaven. No baths here. I have a tin tub, and a blow lamp, and a two gallon dope-can of water. Cumbersome, but good.

Best of luck,

T.E.S.

Matchlesses are not dear, and good. Second hand is better than new, so long as it is last year's model, and not a crash, rebuilt.

Source: DG 539-540
Checked: dn/
Last revised: 17 February 2006


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