Weatherwatch

Lawrence of Arabia sat by a blaze of olive logs, listening to two musicians playing Kurdish war-songs, when the storm suddenly broke

Lawrence of Arabia sat by a blaze of olive logs, listening to two musicians playing Kurdish war-songs, when the storm suddenly broke. "There was a torrential burst of rain which hissed down in sheets, and rattled over the shingle in our court-yard like the footsteps of a great crowd of men; then there would come a clap of thunder, and immediately after a blue flash of lightning which made our open door and window livid gaps in the pitch-black wall ... through which we caught odd glimpses of the sculptures outside shining in the rain and the dazzle of light. I remember particularly the seven foot figure of a helmeted god striding along an inscription towards the doorway: - and the dripping jaws of two lions of the pedestal which seemed in the alternate glare and shadow of the flashes to be grinning at us through the window."

He is reminiscing: he writes to his mother, in May 1916, from somewhere off Aden and recalls Carchemish, an archaeological site on the frontier of Turkey and Syria. The musicians, according to The Letters of TE Lawrence, edited by David Garnett (1938), improvised to keep time with the storm. "The pipe shrilled out whenever the thunder pealed and fell down again slow and heavy for the strained silence in between. One did not realise they were men playing independently: the rhythm seemed so born of the bursts of wind and rain, so made to bind together the elements of the night into one great thunder-song."

Contributor

Tim Radford

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Paul Brown: Weatherwatch

Paul Brown: Autumn was a time of difficult decisions for the medieval peasant

Paul Brown

27, Oct, 2008 @12:01 AM

Weatherwatch

The UK has had its coldest start to winter for about 30 years but temperatures pale compared to those around the Great Lakes early last week, especially in Canada

Stephen Davenport, MeteoGroup

06, Jan, 2009 @12:01 AM

Weatherwatch: Tim Radford on Gertrude Bell's letters about Baghdad

Tim Radford takes a selection of Gertrude Bell's letters about the heat of Baghdad

Tim Radford

24, Apr, 2009 @11:01 PM

Weatherwatch: Stephen Davenport on copious rain and severe gales in South Australia

Stephen Davenport: A vigorous low pressure system brought copious rain and severe gales to South Australia

Stephen Davenport, MeteoGroup

27, Apr, 2009 @11:01 PM

Weatherwatch: Paul Brown

Paul Brown: The warm sunshine of last weekend set off the first swarm of the year from a neighbour's chimney

Paul Brown

10, May, 2009 @11:01 PM

Weatherwatch: 16 February 2009

Paul Brown: Vast numbers of people owned skates in the 19th century because every winter there were opportunities to use them

Paul Brown

16, Feb, 2009 @12:01 AM

Weatherwatch: 9 February 2009

Paul Brown: The most celebrated excuse for late trains was made on 11 February 1991

Paul Brown

09, Feb, 2009 @12:01 AM

Weatherwatch

Weatherwatch: A proverb says that March 'comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb'

Stephen Moss

19, Mar, 2009 @12:01 AM

Stephen Davenport: Weatherwatch

Stephen Davenport: Heavy rain and thunderstorms deluged the Levant from Friday to Saturday morning

Stephen Davenport, MeteoGroup

24, Feb, 2009 @12:01 AM

Weatherwatch

Stephen Moss: Long credited with magic powers, cats also feature prominently in weather folklore

Stephen Moss

15, Apr, 2009 @11:01 PM