Cookie policy: on we use analytics cookies to understand how visitors use the site. The anonymous information they provide suggests improvements and alerts us to technical errors. For more information, see our cookies page, which also explains how to block or remove cookies.  Search T. E. Lawrence Studies

Contents lists


T. E. Lawrence, The Mint




The fire is a cooking fire, red between the stove-bars, all its flame and smoke burned off. Half-past eight. The other ten fellows are yarning in a blue haze of tobacco, two on the chairs, eight on the forms, waiting my return. After the clean night air their cigarette smoke gave me a coughing fit. Also the speed of my last whirling miles by lamplight (the severest test of riding) had unsteadied my legs, so that I staggered a little. 'Wo-ups, dearie' chortled Dusty. 'More split-arse work tonight?' It pleases them to imagine me wild on the road. To feed this flight-vanity I gladden them with details of my scrap against the Bif.

'Bring any grub?' at length enquires Nigger, whose pocket is too low, always, for canteen. I knew there was something lacking. The excitement of the final dash and my oncoming weariness had chased from my memory the stuffed panniers of the Brough. Out into the night again, steering across the black garage to the corner in which he is stabled by the fume of hot iron rising from his sturdy cylinders. Click, click, the bags are detached; and I pour out their contents before Dusty, the hut pantry-man. Tug brings out the frying pan, and has precedency. The fire is just right for it. A sizzle and a filling smell. I get ready my usual two slices of buttered toast.

Nigger turns over the possibilities. 'What are eggs?' he asks. I do a lightning calculation: penny ha'penny. Right: he chooses one egg. Rashers are a penny. Two of them and two dogs, at tuppence. He rolls me his sixpence along the table. 'Keep the odd 'un for fat,' he murmurs. The others choose and pay. Selling the stuff is no trouble: we have run this supper scandal among ourselves all the winter. The canteen food is dearer, though not dear; and much less tasteful than these fruits of our own fetching and cooking. And you have to queue up there, for ten minutes, to be pertly served.

Paddy, the last cooker of tonight, cleans the pan for tomorrow by wiping out its dripping on a huge doorstep of mess-deck bread. Later we'll see him put this bread to belly-use. 'Old grease-trap' Tug calls him, rallyingly. Meanwhile the gramophone plays jazz stuff to charm down the food. My brain is too dishevelled after a hard ride to be fit for string-music, its dope of a wet evening. For tonight I am drowsy-drunk on air. Lights out finds us all willing for sleep. Tomorrow the golden eagle moults on us.

Copyright, privacy, contact | Cookies help