In a Lifetime got a lot of reaction from readers. It was especially noted because it went online soon after the 2007 episodes Human Nature/Family of Blood in which The Doctor, disguised as a 1913 teacher, John Smith, experiences a rare love affair. In the episode we see a dream sequence of what COULD be if he stayed and lived a Human life – as a husband, father, grandfather. In this story he GETS to be a husband, father and grandfather, living on Forêt with Dominique. He closes up the TARDIS under boards and lives as a Forêtean. He doesn’t become Human, as in Human Nature, but he lives as a Human, with his family. He doesn’t use any of his modern technology. That is a hard choice when it means that his grandchild suffers brain damage from an illness he could have prevented. He bears the hardships with his family, promising to stay by Dominique for the rest of her life.

We have a few real clues that The Doctor has faced the death of a loved one this way. In School Reunion in the 2006 season, his remarks about watching somebody he loves withering with age more or less confirms it. He HAS loved a Human before, and stayed with her through her life.

Dominique’s death is a traumatic event for him, and it seems to have been traumatic for the readers, too, who had come to like her character. The trauma was offset by the fact that the story is told retrospectively by The Doctor, sitting in the kitchen of the Nuthutch in Llanfairfach. Remember two stories back when he was supposed to take an hour to reach Wyn and Stella in Wales after leaving Jasmin and Alec in Manchester. 35 years is the detour to end all detours.

And to cap it all, he discovers that he has a potential paradox on his hands, because Wyn and Stella remember spending a year travelling with The Doctor, FIVE YEARS BEFORE, and he hasn’t done that yet. Two clues get let out – Robin Meyerson is a robot and they don’t like the slug people!

The Title, In a Lifetime, is taken from the 1989 Clannad/Bono song of the same name.

Hard to tell
Or recognise a sign
To see me through
A warning sign

First the thunder
Satisfied, if the past it will not lie

Then the storm
Torn assunder
The future you and I get blown away
In the storm
In a lifetime

And as the rain it falls
Begin again, as the storm breaks through
Heavy in my heart
Believe the light in you
So the light shines in you
Without color, faded and worn
Torn asunder in the storm

Unless the sound has faded from your soul
Unless it disappears

First the thunder
Selfish storm
Then the storm

Hold on the inside
Torn asunder
One life
In the storm

In a lifetime
In a lifetime