It being the final day of the primary school term yesterday, the wearing of school uniform was not required and the nephews were more cheerful than is customary as they left the house. Of course, the two weeks of the Easter holiday will pass with undue haste and the first Monday morning of the summer term will arrive, unwelcomed. An abiding memory is of being in the kitchen of the senior boys’ house at school in July 1976 feeling buoyant and moments later standing on the same spot on an evening in September when the school had reassembled for the new year. There seemed an injustice in the rapid passage of the week’s of the summer holiday, even having nine weeks off, three weeks more than most schools, had not prevented the arrival of the dreaded date in September.
Time did not seem to progress in an even manner, while there were weeks that raced, there were days that crawled. Had someone explained the work of theoretical physicists, the passage of terms and holidays might have been more easily comprehensible. It was the most famous of all physicists, the former Swiss post office clerk, Albert Einstein who once expressed the belief that “the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.” The moments spent standing in that kitchen at school were not divided by a two month vacation, they were in one and the same moment. Even Einstein himself would probably have had difficulty in explaining to a fifteen year old boy that it was as much a time to look forward to the summer holidays as one in which to look back on the summer that was past.
Of course, if all of time happens together, then the term that ended yesterday was a moment coincidental with the ending and the beginning of every term in the history of schools and every other moment in time. Equally the end and the beginning of terms in 1976 are also part of the present moment, except, of course, there is no present, as there is no past and no future; no moment for exuberant joy, nor one for downcast despondency. Einstein believed that the only reason for time was to stop everything happening all at once – perhaps it is a convenient arrangement as not having it would mean missing a lot of school days and a lot of school holidays.