What is Jammatology? A pumpkin peels away the secret life of two jam-makers.
Jammatology, the illusive and somewhat indefinable project which is sprouting out of London with the pace of a beanstalk made plump on camomile tea, has finally come to the U.S. The Greenleaf Review’s newest reporter, Pumpkin, has gone to see what they’re all about.
I have been told to meet the Jammatologists in the lobby of the Fearrington House Inn in Pittsboro, North Carolina. The timely duo are waiting as arranged, and they stand out like maverick rock stars in the deep wooded lobby full of suited waiting staff. A grape reclines on a leather armchair, and a raisin leans forward on a two seater sofa with a cigarette and sunglasses keeping out what little soft light there is. Grape tells me that Raisin is a little worse for wear on account of last night’s parties. With this in mind, I start easy, talking about the city and the cabs. But Raisin becomes irritated, and prompts my lack of professionalism with a sigh and a glance at his watchless wrist. Jammatology waits for no man, it seems, especially if that man is not a man, but a pumpkin. Let us proceed.
How did you guys meet?
Grape: At university. Raisin was surrounded by ripened strawberries, so I knew we’d get on well. He also had a guitar, which I thought was cool.
Raisin: Slowly we managed to alienate ourselves from all the other people we met.
Grape: It was a match made in kitchen.
Tell me about Jammatology. People seem to be flummoxed by it. What is it exactly?
G: Sorry Pumpkin, but this is currently classified information. We have to be very careful, so we’re the only ones with access to it. When we send each other emails, for example, some 45% of the text blackened out; such is the secrecy. We can’t even read it. It’s that secret.
R: Secret ingredients.
G: Secret ingredients and secret parties.
Who goes to the parties?
G: All sorts. We have apples, pears, other berries…
R: All the fruit.
G: Yeah all the fruit. Dried fruit, beans, coffee beans, runner beans, green beans…
R: Broad beans.
G: Yeah we got some broads.
R: The parties are wild.
What are they like?
R: I got two words for you, Pumpkin – toga.
G: We had a party to celebrate the first draft of the first two chapters of our first book, Philosofood. We had a Roman/Greek party, with togas and fig bread, caramel strawberries and cavolo nero.
When did Jammatology begin?
G: 12 May 2012, Blackheath, London. 14:29 p.m. local time.
What do you each bring to Jammatology?
G: Raisin is really the genius behind the saucepan. He wields the jam spoon.
R: I have my own engraved jam spoon.
G: He concocts the dishes and does the tasting.
R: Grape doesn’t do anything.
G: This is true.
R: Apart from eat jam.
G: I eat jam. Also, sometimes I will see to it that a kettle is boiling somewhere. It is generally common practice to ensure that there is fairly hot water in numerous kettles in the local vicinity so that when Hot Drink Mania strikes we can be sated ASAP. If you were to go into the kitchen in this hotel, for example, you would find that all of the kettles are boiling or have recently boiled. The good thing about hotels is that people do this for you. This is why we use hotels. Really though, we need to hire someone to do this all the time so that I can get back to my to my real role.
R: His reel roll.
G: Yes. My real role is to reel rolls using the reel we have and the rolls that need to be reeled.
So what happened in Blackheath that fateful afternoon?
G: Well, Raisin was so moved by his coffee, emotionally and physically – we were in a cafe on a slant – that he was compelled to write about it. He wetted his quill and jotted something about the film on the coffee, which reminded him of the liquid in which he had once slumbered in the womb. Also he wanted to write about how happy he was that the weather was good, and to top things off, Gary Barlow* was in the charts.
R: I like Barlow.
G: When it comes to music, Raisin sets the ‘bar low.’
R: I also think Jason Orange* is underrated.
G: Yes, oranges are indeed underrated, their powers of Vitamin C are often taken for granted. We are campaigning for an awareness campaign to start which will raise awareness of this.
R: Yeah, his falsetto is often taken for granted.
*(A note from Pumpkin to American fruits and vegetables: Gary Barlow and Jason Orange were members of the successful pop group Take That.)
So these cafe reviews have been named Grounds, after the ground coffee bean.
R: The coffee bean in a misnomer. It is in fact a seed, and before it has germinated, it is invisible. Once ground, the seed imputes righteousness into very hot water.
G: A bean may appear to be a nut, but look closer, for logic unveils that it seems like an egg.
I heard that you ask other people to write Grounds for you? Are you bored then, since you’re shifting the burden?
R: I resent that. We are no more bored than we ever were, and writing about cafes can send someone into a catatonic state. We’d prefer to be in a gin and tonic state.
G: We figured that the less writing we do, the less work we do.
R: And we write really terrible words when we do write words. We figured, let them, the people, write the words about the cafes. Hence the discussion widens and widens, and boredom is democratised. Even you, Pumpkin, could write a Grounds.
Can I write about pumpkins?
R: Ah, I’m afraid Pumpkins is the only thing we prohibit. Sorry Pumpkin. It’s against the Ground Rules.
G: Ground Rules are as follows: Go to a cafe, write, send it to us.
But that doesn’t even mention pumpkins.
G: Hmm that’s true, well I guess it must be: Go to a cafe, write, send it to us. No pumpkins.
So this became Grounds for Discussion, the book.
G: Exactly. People go to cafes.
R: Or coffee shops.
G: Yes, or coffee shops, we’re quite open-minded. They write about whatever is on their mind, barring pumpkins, then we put it to the music of drawing.
Why is Jammatology so secretive?
G: Well, I have a morbid fear of interaction, and sometimes it is easier to remain hidden. I like to think of myself as a sloth in camouflage. And he’s a Raisin. How is a raisin going to communicate with a JamFan, tell me that? It’s hard enough for a socially inept grape.
So JamFan is the name for your fans? How many do you have?
G: No, I just said JamFan for the first time ever right now. I’d say we have… how many JamFans, Raisin, do you think?
R: Including us?
G: Yeah. Two or three.
R: Including you, Pumpkin, three.
I am indeed a fan, ever since I read some very insightful wisdom penned by one of you, something that has bothers me every morning–
R: The socks.
G: The socks, of course.
From where does this wisdom hail?
G: Naturally, we are not at liberty to share that information. Safe to say that it is a modern translation of the texts – Banalograms – left by the ancient Jammatologists. They cover topics as diverse as milk, skies, hats, broccoli, elevators, lizards, nipples…
And Jampedia, where I found something out about the London Underground?
G: Jampedia is an ancient document which was found in the Duqumata Desert and has been dated to the 3rd Century B.C. It is also written by ancient travelling Jammatologists. Jammers of old were successful thinkers and pillagers.
R: And cannibals.
G: They searched the world looking for extremely tough towels; they liked a good scrub. You might say that they came up with the whole concept of pores. They pored over pores. Their rivals got the credit however – the ancient Dermatologists. At one point the Jammatologists and the Dermatologists ruled two thirds of the world between them.
R: The Duqumata Desert is the most traumatised place on earth. It had a very tough childhood, which explains why Jampedia is so accurate. But this is classified.
G: And we’re releasing it gradually so as to avoid panic.
Jammatology makes jam. What flavours do you have?
R: What flavour do you need? Raspberry balsamic, apple and lemongrass, apple and jasmine, date and earl grey, chocolate and thyme and pear. Always banging out new ones too, quicker than you can count to one thousand in Chinese. Which Grape can do… well, almost. He can get to about 987, but it takes him 987 years.
G: Curiously enough, sometimes they move and we have managed to catch the jam on camera. We’re hoping Attenborough will do a nature documentary on the lives of our jams.
Attenborough? He might be unknown to American audiences.
G: Of course. Gaius David ‘The Silver Lion’ Attenborough, King of the Jungle, is the love child of Doctor Dolittle and Ace Ventura. He lives in England in the summer and flies south for winter, and makes nature documentaries where’er he be.
G: We also hope to understand some of our jam’s politics. They have a parliament and we think their ethics has something to do with the special ingredient, which is of course secret.
[ ‘Order, order!’ video]
What is it?
R: The special ingredient is Jammatolo. It’s made in a farm in Dorset which has to remain confidential.
G: Like Doctor-patient confidentiality. We have Jammer-farmer confidentiality.
R: It’s Lower Hewood Farm owned by Alexa de Ferranti. It is a growing arts organisation, with residencies and sheep and pigs and fields. The sheep paint and the artists lay eggs. Alexa has been a great support for Jammatology.
G: She could be fan number 4.
R: Good point! Four fans, well well.
Is it true that Jammatology is named after philosopher Jacques Derrida’s book, Of Grammatology?
G: Derrida was a great friend of ours but I would have to argue that he took the name of his book from us, rather than the other way around.
So where does Jammatology go from here?
R: To lunch.
I mean, as Jammatology?
R: Oh. For lunch then, but following that, we are recruiting a third Jammatologist. This person’s name must be kept secret for now, because we don’t know who they are. And we are asking for people to write for us from the cafe in which they find themselves.
Can the readers of Greenleaf write Grounds?
G: Why, of course! The only one who cannot write for us, I’m afraid, is you, Pumpkin, because of the Ground Rules.
What if I write about something other than Pumpkins?
G: Like what?
G: I don’t think it will work. I can tell you’re simply trying to paint a pumpkin a different colour.
R: It’s best to steer clear of the whole cucurbita family.
G: Oh gourd… Raisin seems to think he’s on BBC Radio 4.
I could write about pie!
R: One man’s pie is another man’s pumpkin pie.
G: Life without salad is like a meal without salad.
R: A coffee before three is a coffee indeed, but a coffee after four is a coffee no more.
What can I write about?
G: Fiction is truth in reverse.
R: Love is a made up word. But so too is hedgehog.
G: There is a tiny gay within every homophobe.
R: Wealth is the failure to waste money.
G: In a sea of selfishness, one is hard-pressed to find shellfish.
R: Colloquialism is not an everyday word.
G: Be strong like the mule, but be gentle, like the mule.
R: Desire is a vacuum cleaner.
G: Caffeine – once you have one, you have to have more.
R: A tea before three is a tea indeed, but a tea after eight is a tea too late.
G: Better get the kettle on.
R: Oh it’s on. Don’t you worry, it’s on.
Grape and Raisin, with a click of the finger, have a huge selection of teas delivered by no less than five sharply-dressed waiters. As they consider the array of aromatic beverages, the impending infusions still cocooned in dry leaves, I wonder if they will ever get round to making any more jam. Raisin is overcome by a brief spark, a happy acknowledgement of a burgeoning coincidence – “Camellia sinensis, my friend! Pumpkin of the Greenleaf, meet a green leaf, camellia sinensis, the leaf that tea is made from. And good sir, you! Yes you! Make mine a green tea in honour of this discovery, thank you.” A perplexed Grape enquires as to why the mob of waiters have forgotten the coffee, and one of them disappeared with a yelp and a shuffle into the kitchen.
Aware that more capers are afoot, I peer through the growing crowds and bid my fruited associates goodbye. Jammatology headed by these two berries is possibly doomed, especially if they refuse to engage positively with pumpkins. It seems to me that the whole project lacks the seeds of coherence, the sprouts of ambition, the pepper of direction and the much needed soup base of investment. But it has time, says Raisin, and undoubtedly has the wisdom of a great sage. And with enough thyme and sage, so I am told, nothing is beyond the simmering realm of the saucepan of the endless possibility of life.
You can check out Jammatology at http://jammatology.wordpress.com/
Follow them at https://twitter.com/Jammatology
Like them at http://www.facebook.com/Jammatology
Watch their shenanigans on http://www.youtube.com/user/disappointman