DAY 213: Jam

June 12th, 2017 § 0 comments

Aren’t we in one! Among the hundreds of comments, posts, tweets, I’ve been wading through since That Election, I was particularly struck by Russell Brand’s observation that Mr Corbyn was thought to be unsuited for the post of Prime Minister because he has an allotment and makes his own jam. The making of jam, then, becomes (I mused) a metaphor for governance; and I recalled the gardeners in Richard II who discuss the parallels between ruling and gardening (pruning, weeding, chopping off heads of unruly citizens and that). Similarly as a one-time jam-maker I recall that the activity requires not strength and stability, much less forcefulness and aggression; but a good deal of patience and watchfulness -to stop it jamfrom burning and keep picking out the stones, if any. And it is with these qualities that the Labour team have built up their position from certain losers to sitting on the farcical knife-edge where we now find ourselves.

I expect many of my readers, however, will have found themselves facing Meg’s problem from Little Women, vividly analysed by Sarah Blackwood and Sarah Mesle in the LA Review of Books; ‘Meg has repeatedly offered to host John and his work friends as guests, and then when he finally shows up one afternoon with some bro having given her zero notice, it happens to be on the day when she is making jelly, which John Brooke “forgot.” Have you made jelly? You don’t forget it: standing over a hot boiler or steamer, dealing with a very sticky (and expensive) syrupy mess while some weird hard-to-predict chemistry happens with pectin.  In Meg’s case, the chemistry isn’t working: “she reboiled, resugared, and restrained, and that dreadful stuff wouldn’t ‘jell.’”

Have you ever read a more wrenching sentence about failed femininity?

Little Women makes a little bit light of Meg’s anguish at the fact that “the jelly won’t jell,” because taking a light and breezy tone towards the deep wells of womanly distress is what the novel does best and a lot of why we love it — this “breezy tone,” of course, is necessary to disguise the real service the novel provides to young lady readers, which is cluing them in to the fact that the labor of domestic life is a shit show, all the way down. Making jelly is about breaking individual cells, the walls of the fruit, and recreating from these structured individual segments a glistening whole. It’s like making a family. It is a fragile dangerous process, an attempt to make the anarchy of multiple people’s clashing bodies and minds into something sustainable, and lasting, and even sweet.’

So what? So Theresa’s attempt to make this country’s government coagulate are failing in front of a whole roomful of Euro-guests. If only she, like Richard II, had learned the basic domestic skills which, it seems, JC has and is ridiculed for having. While Theresa is ridiculed for a host of other defects, and is in her turn called names which J.K.Rowling rightly finds offensive.

In a recent video I saw, the character complains of being stuck in traffic. To be met with the riposte: ‘You’re not stuck in traffic. You are traffic.’ Which is rather where we are.

We might just settle for making Lebanese dried fig jam, Lebanon being notoriously a synonym for strength and stability.


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