Author's note: Off a precious moment in "The Happiness Patrol", because Seven is a Doctor of precious moments.
There's this little pub in London, couple of streets away from Totter's Lane, just opposite the Coal Hill high school, where there's a funny little man who plays with spoons.
You should go see him sometimes. He's there every other Thursday, coming in for the Happy Hour. He takes his regular table always with this same kid who wears badges on her coat. He sits for a while and drinks tea with mint – on the house, it's the only pay he's ever willing to take – and the girl talks stuff that don't make sense for a while, and then he gets up and puts his brolly on the chair and sits on the bar and whips up the spoons from under his hat.. For a bit there people who aren't regulars are still gawking at the telly, but soon enough they shut it up and they start paying attention. He starts swinging those spoons in the air. He makes 'em tap, he makes 'em tinkle. He raps them against each other and on his foot and on the bar and he jingles them against glasses that're full and half full and empty, and the lot of it makes music like you wouldn't hear anywhere else in the world.
He's got showmanship, he's got style. He's got such hands as you never know how many spoons he's really got up in the air or in his hands at any given moment. He matches them up in pairs and makes them play whole chords in the key of metal and the everyday and the secret pure notes that you never knew they're got in them. They go off all the way to the ceiling and he takes the moment and snaps off his hat, flashes you a smile, because he knows you're listening, just at that very instant. He makes half-empty pints sing and makes jazz out of broken plates, plays off the sparks that fly when metals brush against each other. He's got wicked rhythm and he makes music out of everything.
But what he's got most of is timing. People hold their breath for minutes in the act, waiting for a spoon to drop, but it never does. He's got timing out of this world. People throw their spoons at him and he catches them, takes them into the dance, never misses a beat. He's got such timing that you feel the seconds of your life pass, irretrievable in the beauty of the moment, with every meeting of the spoons. You get a sense of connectedness, as every second hits its mark, of how your life comes together with itself, and with the life of everyone around you, and with the slow, rumbling life of the Earth, every time he shifts allegro and legato, every time his fingers brush a mug. He stops for less than a heartbeat and you hold your breath, and you can hold your breath forever, waiting for his next trick, and the next note always comes on time, a finer time than we humans have words for, so when he stops and takes a bow you know it's all falling into place, all's right in the world.
Then the pub breaks into applause and the girl calls out "Brill, Professor!" and occasionally he tips out his hat for people to throw coins into, before putting it right back on. You never see him pocket a penny of it. But all the homeless folk and kids round the neighborhood crowd about that pub when he's playing there, and pounds and pennies and notes appear in their hats and their pockets and up their sleeves like aces, and somehow nobody every really wonders how come.
You should go see him sometimes, no one's been able to track him down yet. Nobody knows his name or the girl's name or if he's really a professor of anything, or where he goes to play next with his brolly and his hat and his flying spoons. But you shouldn't miss him. Don't wait for next week. Who knows how much more time he's going to be doing it. This is just the sort of thing that time takes away.