Second Contact

When I moved school, in 1970 one of the first friends I made was with a bespectacled thoughtful northerner called Mike. His family had moved to south Hampshire a couple of years before mine. We were 12 going on 10 and remained close throughout school. Mike was loyal, funny and relaxed. I like to think I mirrored the first two even if I never really did the relaxed bit.

Wind the clock forward and he went to Cambridge to read engineering while I headed for Bristol to study law. I don’t think either of us really understood what the other got out of their degree. But we never lost touch and it was in Mike’s car that I toured France with two other friends in the summer of 1977, ending up in Amsterdam.

Mike is on the left; behind him, there’s a picture window of the sort only Amsterdam could deliver back in the 1970s… It’s blacked out to maintain propriety

We both moved to London, he to work for Shell, occasionally going off shore to the North Sea rigs and living in the Notting Hill area of London. He made a fist of trying to be trendy but it never really suited him.

I married; Mike ditto. We both had small families and by the mid 1990s we were still close and enjoying regular get togethers.

Sometime in the late 1990s Mike’s mother became ill and he decided to move closer to her, back in Hampshire, somewhere in the area around Christchurch and not a million miles from where my parents still lived.

I imagine Mike and his wife Gill sent us a change of address card…

I imagine I lost it…

From that day forward I’ve not seen Mike or Gill. But every year we receive a Christmas card from them. You can set your calendar by it.

‘With love from Mike and Gill’

Same every year.

We live in hope that one day they’ll include an address or phone number or email. Never happens.

We’ve tried to find where they live but with a surname of Brown, it’s proved a needle in a haystack.

A few years back we searched the electoral roll and thought we had found them. We wrote, asking if it was them and asking them to get in touch via some other medium than the Christmas card.

That didn’t work either.

Once again, this week we received the card and once again I received the sharp gnaw of guilt for losing that change of address card, for the best part of 25 years of un-responded to cards, for failing to find a way to re-establish contact, short of hiring a private detective.

It’s bloody irritating…

I mean, they must want to stay in touch, they must believe we still live at the same address as we did those 25 years ago (we do) and they must wonder why we never bother to send them a card or contact them. They’ve not lost hope so I don’t. But still…

I throw this out there. How would you go about finding Mike and Gill? What would you do that we haven’t? Do you have some cunning plan?

And if you’re reading this, Mike and sniggering at the levels of frustration you’re causing me (the Mike I knew would have happily done that – we had that kind of friendship)… sod.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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42 Responses to Second Contact

  1. Ritu says:

    Hope your Christmas miracle of finding Mike, occurs!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. joylennick says:

    That would really bug me, Geoff!. “Come out, come out, wherever you are Mike and Gill.”
    Only an idea, but how about contacting a local Hampshire radio station and putting out an appeal? Good luck and a happy Christmas. Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a lovely and temporarely sad story, not finding your friend. I wish you the best for the miracle to happen. I remember my steps finding someone in the past. I had contacted the town halls of the cities, in which or near which I suspected someone was. Sometimes i also had used the White Pages, and occasionally police stations. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  4. trifflepudling says:

    Sometimes names and addresses are given online on Companies House register. If he’s a director of a limited company it may show up.
    I do hope you find each other! I know another couple this has happened to – been 38 years now!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gwen M. Plano says:

    I’m hoping for a Christmas miracle. Thank you for sharing this touching story, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The only thing I can think of is maybe a mutual friend who has Mike’s address. You can also go to the marriage records database and put in Mike and Gill’s names and get a previous address, which could lead to a current address. You could also search on MIke’s parent’s obituary and see if a more specific town for Mike other than Christchurch, which looked like an approximate location. You can then search for the exact town. You probably have thought of these but maybe not.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Erika says:

    There must be a stamp where you can read the city or village. I don’t know how this is in England. But over here you are registered in every city or village. There is a central registration. If you know the place you might check on such a registration office. Or maybe there is an online portal for phone numbers/addresses. Just some ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      The postcode shows Christchurch which is near where his mum lived. The electoral roll gives details of everyone registered to vote and you can get access. However you then come up against the fact there are several Mike Browns – it’s such a common name. We thought we’d found them that way but our letter received no response yet the card kept coming, I suppose I could call round but I’m slightly embarrassed, if I’m honest.


      • Erika says:

        Maybe that would be the best when even an umcomfortable way to find him. But I am sure, it is worth the effort. Maybe you hit the jackpot with the first call!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. We have one of those cards too. It’s been 29 years now! We have variously tried social media, LinkedIn, Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Darlene says:

    This happened to us with one of hubby´s army buddies. What I can´t understand is why would someone not put a return address on the envelope? I do hope you find your friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. noelleg44 says:

    Here’s hoping you have a Christmas miracle and find Mike. We went on a search for lost friends some years ago and finally found them through a real estate agent!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That must be frustrating! What about relatives or other friends who might know where they are?

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      There’s the trouble. I have no contact these days with any mutual friends and the only family he had was hus mother who was ill back in thr 90s so may have died and an older brother whose whereabouts I know not…


  12. Maybe there’s a reason he doesn’t want to be found even though he obviously likes keeping in touch. This could be a good idea for a short story or book!


  13. trifflepudling says:

    Alumni Office at Bristol Uni? They could pass on a message if they have his details, without revealing any private data to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. willowdot21 says:

    I hate things like this…. The fact that they still send a card means a lot! I guess you have , but maybe an ad in several local papers or even a story in a local paper? Local radio…or even radio 4 Saturday Live, they do a special feature where people say thank have 25yrs of Christmas cards to say thank you for! I think your Thank you would definitely appeal to then. Either way Geoff I hope you find them 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Widdershins says:

    I presume you’ve used Facebook/LinkedIn, that sort of thing? … I can’t think of anything that hasn’t already been suggested.
    On the other hand, not ever putting on a return address is a bit … um, peculiar. The reasons one might do such a thing are myriad. 🙂
    Afterthought – can you at least narrow down the search area by the postmark on the card envelope, if such things still occur? I haven’t used the postal service for letters/cards in probably a decade.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      We’ve made progress. Someone suggeste checking to see if either is recorded at the companies registers of limited companies as a director. Bingo there’s a small engineering business with them both as directors based in the part of Hampshire where they moved way back… plus an address. So we’ve written and will wait and see what occurs…

      Liked by 1 person

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