This was the question most asked yesterday as I set out my tools at poolside and began my first, awkward lines of this mile of longhand; this self-chosen endurance test in Wild Patience.
The main output planned in public terms is to have segments along the inside boundary wall of Pells Pool before the end of this season or in time for next: It will make for a meditative exercise – walking slowly along poolside to take in a line at a time, before returning to the start to keep up with the text, all 150ft of it: To go along at slower-than-breaststroke speed, reading about the inner lives and outer goals of other members of the pool community.
What I write is hidden from me during the day, as each arms’ width section filled is immediately rolled away to the left to release more blank paper from the right. But each evening (feeling myself a modern version of Penelope, that most patient of women, unpicking what she weaves) I unwind the scroll to transcribe the material.
In this way, I shall be building up a land-locked, schoolrun-bounded version of an explorer’s logbook (like so many people who live a routine life in a country with mild climate, I read over and again the journals of Scott and other explorers of harsh terrain: the scrolls are my way of feeling a distant kinship with their tough and tenacious habits of mind).
I like the idea that the scrolls might only ever be read in their entirety if they are exhibited and a reader is prepared to walk a slow and sideways two miles to take it all in…