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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to his mother


17 Dec. 1933

A week to Christmas, and me still in Southampton, testing boats. The Daily Telegraph published a note on one of them the other day, and I send you the cutting. Liddell Hart, who wrote it, has launched out a full life of me, again. I hate it. These people all exaggerate so, and make me more a mountain than a man. I read his proofs and knocked out a good deal of stuff that wouldn't do. Unhappily I had to put in something, each time, to replace what I knocked out.

It has lately been howling cold in England: the ice on the sea has been thick on all the beaches and mud flats. Clouds Hill spring froze over, for the first time in my experience. The water is now very feebly flowing, smaller than ever I have known it. It is sad, just when my bath had been put in. We dare not use it, till more rain falls. Cities like Liverpool are cutting off their water every afternoon, and hundreds of villages are carting water.

I am just back from the cottage, which is now finished, at last, and looking untidy but well. The new zipp-bedding is a great success. Pat Knowles cannot finish the water-tank (to be known as Shaw's Puddle) because of the frost, which would kill the cement. It is almost finished, however, and will come to little harm, in its present state. Such a relief to have the cottage to myself, at last, after all these months of workmen and upset. If there is ever anything more to do, I shall do it myself.

No letter from you for some weeks but no news of trouble in your part of China. I hope the 'Red' party may get the upper hand quickly and settle down into something Chinese. It is the only hope I can see, as against Japanisation. No matter, though. There is a new rather good scotch novel out, about Ross-shire and the expulsion of the crofters. I shall probably send it you, to keep the Barrie and Douglas company. Your Bank I saw a few weeks ago. It says it has done just what you want, rather against its judgement. No matter, again.

Both your cheques came. I am sorry you made them so big. The Odyssey is paying for Clouds Hill improvements, wholly, I hope. I shall know by the end of the month, when the last bill comes in. Everything to date has been paid for, as it was finished: so there should not be too much to come. You will find the little place so different. I'm afraid it will not be so suitable for you two: but it fits me like a glove: and if you do want to return to Dorset, and give me warning, I will find you somewhere near. A lovely district.


Arnie talks of coming to Clouds Hill for a week, after Dec. 29. I have warned him that there are now no beds and no cooking arrangements!

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Source: HL 384-5
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 14 February 2006


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