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T. E. Lawrence to Clare Sydney Smith


Mount Batten:

16.XII.32.

Your signal came yesterday, while I was puzzling over what to do: and still I don't know.

When the G/C rang up W/C Burling it had an effect: those who do not go away for Christmas can now have 3 days in the ten following it. I put in at once for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday after Christmas - about the 29th Dec. I have to be back by midnight on Saturday. I have to license my bicycle and myself for the coming year. If it is fine I can get to London by noon on Thursday. Licensing takes time (County Hall, near Westminster Bridge), and then there is my insurance Company in the City. Probably one of those will carry on over the Friday morning. On Saturday afternoon I must ride back to Plymouth. So that the most time I can hope for, free, in London, is about 24 hours.

I could, of course, come down to Manston on Friday afternoon, stay that night and go off again early on Saturday morning; but such a snap visit would be very unsatisfactory for all of us. It would all go in a flash.

It isn't much good ringing up W/C Burling, for in his gentle way he doesn't like it, and I don't want to ask for special privileges that might be refused, or only grudgingly given. In fact, I won't do it.

Christmas in any case is out of the question. I said long ago that I'd do duty those 3 days, and have my free time after it. The miscalculation I made was in expecting 5 days, and getting only the 3. And I must spend a part of that in London, on business. It will be my last leave there till the first of April gives me more leave.

W/C Burling sails for Singapore on Jan. 3. He has been a very quiet and uninterfering C.O. and we are all very sorry he is going.... Mount Batten is not very cheerful at the moment. It is to be up-graded on April 1st and so there's yet another change in prospect. All very unsettling.

The Biscuit is still motionless in her shed. I think she is ready for the water, but I feel not inclined for the work of running her.

Cold, rough, wet weather. This is not a cheerful letter, is it?

T.E.S.

Source: GR 197-8
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 3 July 2006


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