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T. E. Lawrence to H.S. Ede


Miranshah

30.6.28.

Well, I've moved from Karachi, and come to the most remote R.A.F. station in India:- and the smallest. We are only 26, all told, with 5 officers, and we sit with 700 India Scouts (half regulars) in a brick and earth fort behind barbed wire complete with searchlights and machine guns. Round us, a few miles off, in a ring are low bare porcelain-coloured hills, with chipped edges and a broken bottle skyline. Afghanistan is 10 miles off. The quietness of the place is uncanny - ominous, I was nearly saying: for the Scouts and ourselves live in different compartments of the fort, and never meet: and so there's no noise of men: and no birds or beasts - except a jackal concert for five minutes about 10 p.m. each night, when the searchlights start. The India sentries flicker the beams across the plain, hoping to make them flash in the animals' eyes. So sometimes we see them.

We are not allowed beyond the barbed wire, by day, or outside the fort walls by night. So the only temptations of Miranshah are boredom and idleness. I hope to escape the first and enjoy the second: for, between ourselves, I did a lot of work at Karachi and am dead tired.

Here they employ me mainly in the office. I am the only airman who can work a typewriter, so I do D.R.Os. and correspondence: and act postman, and pay-clerk, and bottle washer in ordinary. Normally flights do two months here, and get relieved: but I will try and get left on. It's the station of a dream: as though one had fallen right over the world, and had lost one's memory of its troubles. And the quietness is so intense that I rub my ears, wondering if I am going deaf.

You meanwhile, broadcast, and lunch with Margot and 'see life'. Well, in good time. If 1930 is kind to me, it will bring me back within holiday distance of London, and by coming to see you I'll
shatter the too-favourable image of myself which your imagination has created. Graves is really too good to me too: makes me out a wonderful chap: and the fellows in camp sit on their beds, round mine, and read tit-bits of their books at me, and say 'Now, who'd have thought that, if he'd known you?' They regard my legend as a huge joke: if it wasn't my legend, I'd do ditto.

Miss Fry I do not remember. More people, however, know me than I know.

America? I will not go there: but they are doing a vast lot of interesting writing there, prose and poetry. Try and see Kreymborg, and Cummings, and Vachel Lindsay and Sherwood Anderson. They must be interesting.

Yours ever

T.E.S.

Source: DG 614-615
Checked: dn/
Last revised: 17 January 2006


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