I am going to have jam today. I had no jam yesterday, or for several days before that, and I think it is very unlikely that I will have jam tomorrow, or for the foreseeable future. The precise extent of the foreseeable future is, of course, a matter of conjecture. Some people have the attention span of a gnat and can foresee little more than the next few seconds, if that. Then there are seers and wizardy persons, who can foretell, or at least claim to foretell, events that occur far into the future. Nostradamus is perhaps the most famous example, but there are others, such as those boffins who concoct long-range weather forecasts. Between the gnat-brained and the seers are the vast majority, the rest of us, who can make reasonable guesses at what might occur a few days or even a few weeks hence, according to our appointment diaries. I know, for instance, with a reasonable degree of certainty, that in a couple of weeks’ time I will, touch wood, be visiting a hospital to see a consultant to find out what he has learned from a study of a sample of my precious blood. Yet it remains possible that this will not happen, for reasons mundane – a rescheduling of the appointment – or dramatic – the hospital collapses to ruin in an earth-shuddering cataclysm. So even the foreseeable future may not be wholly foreseeable. Of one thing I can be sure, and that is the fact that I will have jam today.
I intend to spread it, the jam, on a slice of toast, possibly two slices of toast depending on the amount of jam and the liberality, or miserliness, with which I spread it. I might even eke out three toast-slices’ worth, if I go a bit mad. I know I will have the jam today. From where I sit, if I crane my neck at a certain angle and peer intently through my spectacle-lenses, I can see the jam, in a small plastic container with a tear-off lid, resting on the countertop anent the electric toaster in which I shall be toasting the slices of bread. Will, shall … the future tense. Can I really be sure I will have the jam? Could something happen, mundane or dramatic, to prevent what might otherwise seem inevitable? With the jam in my possession, now, could it yet happen that I will not, after all, have jam today? To which the only conceivable answer is, alas, yes.
I might discover, when tearing off the lid of the container, that the jam is contaminated, and gives off a foul reek, and must at once be consigned to the dustbin. Or, in a variant of the anomalous phenomenon of spontaneous human combustion, there may be an inexplicable occurrence of spontaneous jam combustion, and I will be left with not jam but cinders. All sorts of other eventualities, the likely and the unlikely, are feasible. The only way I can guarantee having jam today is to cease writing, right this second, and make my toast, and spread my jam, and eat it. So that is what I shall do, and I will report back.
Mission accomplished. I had jam today! Hurrah hurray! Though it is only fair to say that it tasted far less toothsome than I had hoped. It was bland jam. Tomorrow, I hope instead to have marmalade. But it is best not to hope too desperately, for who knows what might occur, before the sun rises tomorrow, to crush my marmalade desire?