On an overcast day, on a mid-winter evening, at the turn of the millenia, a man is feeling bitter as he locks up the soon-to-be-closed observatory at Greenwich where he has worked as a research scientist since the 1960s. Walking home, he is befriended by a strange little man who confides in him that the King will have it open again soon and reflects on the passing of time. They chat further as the little man walks him back to the village, both taking shelter under his umbrella from the rain. The little man, who seems somehow familiar, explains that while his friend Ace was shopping for a pair of Doc Martens he had decided to call on an old friend who happened to be out at the time.
Before they go their separate ways, the little man is asked if they've met before. With a smile, he says, "Perhaps — when you were a teacher", and walks off, leaving the man to go home to his wife. A short while later, seated by an open fire, his wife Barbara hands over a present that was left for him earlier in the day by a strange man. Inside is a Coal Hill School tie — a reminder of his first teaching job and the strange events that had first brought the two of them together.
This story is told in the first person, and while the narrator's name is never given, it is implied that the story is told by Ian Chesterton, a former teacher at Coal Hill School who left with fellow teacher Barbara Wright, whom he eventually married.
An expanded first draft of the story was published as Auld Acquaintance as part of the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club's fanzine TSV.