As the days became colder and shorter, I was struck with the overwhelming urge to make jam. I didn’t resist, but instead allowed myself to be taken over by a compulsion to pour hot, sugary fruit into jars. I chopped several plums, pears and apples to the soundtrack of Radio 4 and felt myself becoming a real person with every peel, chuckling when I happened upon a pear that seemed to possess a remarkable posterior.
Standing over simmering fruit, I began to think about how it didn’t matter that I didn’t get that admin assistant job, because what I had done was simmer ginger for about 40 minutes so that it was translucent and more palatable, chop it finely and throw it in a pan to mingle with vanilla and cardamom in some sort of debauched pomaceous pan party. To me, this was far more rewarding than any invoice I would ever process, and I was filled with such a sense of empowerment that I threw in some star anise just for the hell of it.
As I brought the pan to a rapid boil, the Schubert concert on Radio 3 was reaching a crescendo, and I at once believed myself to be some sort of conductor of preserves. Those countless rejection emails I was harbouring in my filing cabinet of failure had now been usurped by intensifying flavours that had rendered my email inbox as inert as a 4 year old empty vanilla pod. As I poured the jam up to the rim of the jar, I thought, ‘gosh, I’m like an actual adult.’ A feeling of smugness followed, which was quickly extinguished when I burnt my hand whilst screwing the lid on the hot jar. However, this didn’t dampen my spirits – on the contrary, it made me feel like a man.