T. E. Lawrence to Clare Sydney Smith
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?
|Last revised:||3 July 2006|
T. E. Lawrence chronology
1888 16 August: born at Tremadoc, Wales
1896-1907: City of Oxford High School for Boys
1907-9: Jesus College, Oxford, B.A., 1st Class Hons, 1909
1910-14: Magdalen College, Oxford (Senior Demy), while working at the British Museum's excavations at Carchemish
1915-16: Military Intelligence Dept, Cairo
1916-18: Liaison Officer with the Arab Revolt
1919: Attended the Paris Peace Conference
1919-22: wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1921-2: Adviser on Arab Affairs to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office
1922 August: Enlisted in the Ranks of the RAF
1923 January: discharged from the RAF
1923 March: enlisted in the Tank Corps
1923: translated a French novel, The Forest Giant
1924-6: prepared the subscribers' abridgement of Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1927-8: stationed at Karachi, then Miranshah
1927 March: Revolt in the Desert, an abridgement of Seven Pillars, published
1928: completed The Mint, began translating Homer's Odyssey
1929-33: stationed at Plymouth
1931: started working on RAF boats
1932: his translation of the Odyssey published
1933-5: attached to MAEE, Felixstowe
1935 February: retired from the RAF
1935 19 May: died from injuries received in a motor-cycle crash on 13 May
1935 21 May: buried at Moreton, Dorset