The Doctor could tell that no one in the pub would be of any use. Alcohol damages the mind, after all. No, if he were looking for worthwhile information, he'd have to seek out clear-minded, old proles. Shopkeepers maybe.
Almost every sight on the horizon made him wince. The buildings; the bombed out, decrepit, overrun state of London; the people; everything. It almost brought him to tears, seeing his favorite Earth city in such a state. He wondered how Rose was faring. She'd grown up in London, after all, she had as much of an attachment to it as he did. Capitalists indeed. The real villains were the people themselves, who had let their beautiful city deteriorate in such a manner.
"They had something beautiful," the Doctor whispered to the sky, "and they fettered it away. Gone. All gone…" Even the faithful, omnipresent clocktower was no longer in existence: perhaps they had taken it down as a slap in the face to the velvet-suited Capitalists. Instead, they had erected in its place a testament to the power of the regime: four ebony-colored pyramids, glittering in the sunlight, with horrible slogans written all over. The Doctor took the idea of 'ignorance is strength' as an almost personal affront. Knowledge had saved him how many times now?
Across town, Rose was making dismal progress. She was weaving her way through the building; picking up papers; blending in and discovering nothing. She'd seen the prole newspapers, the party newspapers, books for both, and any reading material she could get her hands on. Nothing.
She wondered if the characters, too, were real in this world. Anything was possible, and she received her answer just as a man walked by and she heard a voice call "O'Brien! I have this draft of the Newspeak dictionary, 11th edition, that I'd like you to look at." Syme, no doubt, was beckoning.
Rose grinned. Maybe this could be easier than she thought if it was all real, not just the society. As she weaved once more through the building, mind wandering aimlessly, she watched a dark-haired girl maybe ten years older than herself pass by. Just as Rose was saying to herself, that just might be Julia, the girl collided with an older man, a few years older than the Doctor appeared. Rose watched, astonished, as the girl slipped him the fateful note and Winston (for of course it was he) returned to his office, fuming.
Did I really just see that? Rose asked herself, marveling at her good luck. So, all I have to do is spy on these two until—oh.
As the Doctor continued footing his way through London, he found himself disgusted and horrified that there were so many people living on the streets without shoes or food or the basic necessities of life. I'll put this right, he promised himself. He knew in his heart that when he fixed whatever it was the needed fixing, in all likeliness this universe and these people would cease to exist. Perhaps in some ways not existing at all was better than a pointless existence as a prole, living one's life out and never accomplishing anything, but in other ways, not existing at all was much, much worse. Either way, he could never rectify things completely.
As a few grimy children tripped their way across the street he found himself whispering, "I'm sorry," to every one. There was not enough pity, not enough righteous intendancy, not enough motivation for change to even do a fraction of good here.
He felt a tug at his sleeve, and his stomach dropped at the idea of having to tell someone that he didn't have any money, and no, he couldn't help them, until a voice squealed excitedly; "Doctor!"