One morning, her son tries to explain quantum
physics in the car. They are at the railway station and
streams of commuters rush by, with their heads
down and their collars turned up. He talks about
particles acting as waves and Alice says, ‘where does
the cat fit in in all of this? Schrödinger and all that
stuff about the cat, you know, shut in a sealed box
along with something radioactive, a Geiger counter
and a bottle of poison.’ The boy shrugs his shoulders.
‘Google it if you want to know. I’ve had a long day.’
He’s now sixteen and this passes for in-depth
conversation. So they sit in silence and watch the
northern commuters. Are they particles or waves?
Manchester or Leeds? Alice wonders to herself but
she doesn’t speak out loud. Her son’s too busy
texting, with his head down and his collar turned up.