(Steller)

Jam Tomorrow

(Journal)
Published – 18.07.2021
(Writing)

A favourite Wikipedia entry:

Jam tomorrow or jam to-morrow (older spelling) is an expression for a never-fulfilled promise. Some pleasant event in the future, which is never likely to materialize. It originates from Lewis Carroll’s 1871 book Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. This is a pun on a mnemonic for the usage of the Latin word iam (formerly often written and pronounced jam), which means “at this time”, but only in the future or past tense, not in the present (which is instead nunc “now”). In the book, the White Queen offers Alice “jam every other day” as an inducement to work for her:

“I’m sure I’ll take you with pleasure!” the Queen said. “Two pence a week, and jam every other day.”
Alice couldn’t help laughing, as she said, “I don’t want you to hire me – and I don’t care for jam.”
“It’s very good jam,” said the Queen.
“Well, I don’t want any to-day, at any rate.”
“You couldn’t have it if you did want it,” the Queen said. “The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.”
“It must come sometimes to ‘jam to-day’,” Alice objected.
“No, it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every other day: to-day isn’t any other day, you know.”
“I don’t understand you,” said Alice. “It’s dreadfully confusing!”

The passage inspired the title of the 1979 musical But Never Jam Today.

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