What young boy would not want a Christmas letter like this from Lawrence of Arabia? The following is the opening part of a charming letter from Lawrence to his godson Stewart Lawrence Newcombe, the son of S.F.N and Elizabeth. Stewart was variously known as James or Jimmy by the family but also addressed by Lawrence as My Lord Duke, Monster, Horror and Object. This letter was written on 20th December 1934, when Jimmy was 14 years old and Lawrence was only a few months away from leaving the R.A.F, and the fatal bike crash that killed him:
"Dear James, (alias Stewart a word I only cry out when about to be sick - alias Monster, plus or minus other things)
Dear James, as I said before Ahem
Third time lucky. We're off. Merry Christmas. No, I don't really mean that. I follow the Golden Rule. May you have a quiet Christmas with nothing abnormal to eat. Avoid gluttony, above all. Remember your figure, and the figures your parents ought to have. If you observe them over-eating clear your throat gently, to attract attention, and say 'A bit high, this bird?' that will put them off it. If they bring in plum puddings and things, remark in a blasé accent ...the normal speech, I mean, of Eton ...'Isn't it jolly, papa, to keep up these old customs? It's like Dickens, isn't it, I mean, what?' That will throw a chill over the whole meal-time - I mean orgy. You owe a duty to your family at Christmas..."