The boy, seized with an afflatus of imagination, suggested to his pals at school that they start a club. They would call it the Naturality of Einstein. Or NOE, for short.
- Why Naturality? said I. That's not a word.
- Naturally because we're going to do experiments, said the boy. Like Einstein.
- I don't think Einstein ever did any experiments, I said. He was a theoret…
- Acha, please!
The plan, as I understand it, is to make train models during lunch recess.
- Why trains? said the wife. What did Einstein have to do with trains?
- Actually, I said, feeling rather self-important, When Einstein thought about time and relativity, trains with on-board times different from either the origination or destination cities were suited for the purpose.
I then launched into a harangue about clock synchronisation, and the finite speed of light. The wife hid behind a newspaper. The boy listened carefully for a few seconds before beginning to fidget. Half an hour later my mouth was dry and the boy was nowhere to be seen.
A few days ago, he asked his headmaster for permission to set up the club. The headmaster gave him an appointment to explain the rationale for NOE. In the few days between the conversations, two boys dropped out of the club. (One cited the lack of action, and the other was miffed that his house was beaten at rugby by the boy's house.)
By the time of the appointment with the headmaster, NOE had become FOE. Followers of Einstein. The boy explained at length the raison-d'etre for the club. The principal heard him out, congratulated him on a sound plan, told him to get the art teacher involved. They would be using a space in the art room, and so the art teacher would have to agree as well.
- Amma, said the boy. I had a feeling that Mr Wilcox was trying not to laugh during our meeting.
- Why do you say that? said the wife, smiling.
- Because when I was leaving the room, he and Christie were laughing.
Two days ago, we heard that interest in the club had spread throughout the boy's year. Where initially there had been six boys keen to join, now about fifteen or twenty wanted to participate. The art teacher said he only had space for five.
- What am I going to do, Amma? said the boy. This is a tricky situation.
He explained to the boys that he could only fit in five in all. One of the boys who had dropped out now wanted to rejoin.
- That's good, said the boy. But you can't - because there are others who are in line ahead of you.
One of the excluded fellows went to the form teacher and complained. The form teacher called the boy aside and said he had to include everyone.
- But there can only be five followers of Einstein, Amma, said the boy. Why is Miss Holmes interfering? Where am I going to put everybody?
He paced about the room, agitated.
- I know, he said. I'm going to ignore her.