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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to his mother


Southampton

27.ix.33

This game of writing letters six months apart is like playing blind man's buff and never touching. However, there it is. By sending a double letter, one post apart, some of them may get through. By the way your letters repeat questions that were long ago answered, it is clear that most mails get lost.

If that goes on we will have to send a telegram to each other, once a quarter, saying 'Well' and no more: for indeed, reduced to its essences, there is no more to say. However to pad it out I shall answer your last letter, dated July 29, which you will have long ago forgotten.

I am staying in the R.A.F. for the remainder of my term- that is till March 1935 - so long as they give me special employment that seems to me worth while. These boats are worth while, I think. If the boat job runs out, so shall I. It is in my will, and I long for the cottage, sometimes.

The fast boats have lately been built by the Power Boat Co. but we are not tied to any firm. The slow boats are always built by Admiralty contractors. White's of Cowes are doing these last five. Next year there are to be six slow ones. I do not know who will be chosen to do them. The seven fast ones are being done by Power. I am now visiting Cowes and Hythe alternately, Hythe always by bike. It runs well.

I cannot manage any more rhododendrons this autumn, for all my money has gone on the changes to the cottage. To finish the water and heating business I will probably have to anticipate my next payment of American royalties on the Odyssey. Until it is all finished I cannot say exactly what will be the total cost - more than I had expected, but then I have done more than I meant. Improvements suggest themselves, and it was now or never to put them in. So I have plunged, rather. All bills are paid, to date, but little remains. Another reason against more rhododendrons is space - or the lack of it. The shrubs are growing like wild-fire, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to force a way between them. Before new ones can be put in, the wild ones must be cut back: and that I shall have no time to do before I am living there. I get to the cottage only for a few hours a fortnight: hardly ever for a night. The place needs living in, badly. I would like to find a tenant for the winter, but cannot well offer it, without kitchen or bedroom: and will the water-works be finished? They are so slow, these firms. Even the ram is left undone, half-working and half anyhow.

Mrs. Knowles has voted against more apple-trees, because some soldiers raided her garden this summer and stole all her fruit before it was even ripe. The trees bore a heavy and splendid crop. She is pleased with the quarter of the garden that has been wired and dug. Many potatoes, I gather.

Brian is in London and Pat at Clouds Hill. He has cut a lot of wood for her and me: but she does not let him help her in the garden. I have got Billy Bray to give Pat jobs in my public works - water, bricklaying, cementing: and plan more for him. The fire risks this year have been really bad, and before next summer I shall have taken real precautions against the danger. Pat can do most of them for us. The Knowles family is queer. They get on best apart. Pat usually lives in my cottage, but feeds with Mrs. Knowles. [two lines omitted]

I have not yet cleared in my own mind the design of a fender for the book-room. The stainless steel top of the upstairs one is a complete success. The seat of the new one must be stainless, too.

Your cheque for £50 came early in August, and I wrote to thank you for it. It went on the cottage, of course, with my Odyssey money. I still have some in hand, but not quite enough, I expect. However next month more comes from the States. So please do not bother yourself to send more. It is never hard for me to make money - a rare and fortunate state that I try not to abuse!

Our marvellous summer has definitely broken. We have had two weeks of very unsettled weather. High time too, with these droughts and heath-fires all over England.

N

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Source: HL 381-2
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 14 February 2006

 



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