The letter from Traceline…

I’m back in London and after several hours of pottering around, I finally get the nerve to open the letter on my doorstep. I already knew the content of the letter, but nonetheless I’ve been circling it since lunch-time. Most important notes: they’re not sure this guy is my father, and I may have to wait months before I get any more information. On the other hand, assuming the guy is my father, that means he’s findable. One way or another, he’s findable and he’s out there. At which point, screw his personal preferences, I guess I move to a different kind of searching. I’m not going to give up at this stage…

Dear Mr Coates,

In response to your recent application, details have been traced which would appear to relate to the above-named person and we are prepared to write to him asking for permission to forward a letter from yourself.

Would you please now submit an open letter, together with a further non-refundable remittance of £25.00. Cheques should be made payable to ONS (please quote the reference number above with all correspondence). Please note, sealed letters will be opened for inspection.

Please do not include photographs or any personal items.

Given permission to do so, your letter will be passed on.

If however a negative response is received or, if at the end of three months there has been no response, your letter will be returned to you.

Yours sincerely, etc.

6 replies on “The letter from Traceline…”

I’m fascinated, following this story. It’s genuinely interesting and I don’t want you to stop. But I do wonder about sharing it on your blog… “Hello Dad. I’ve been telling thousand on people about my search on the web.”
If you find him, and I hope you do, not only meeting his son for the first time in 30 years, but realising that it’s public knowledge is going to be quite a head-fuck for him. But maybe you know this, and it’s a small bit of revenge for the years of absence?

First can I ask you not to put paragraph and break tags in your post. There’s simply no need to do so – the software will respect your formatting.
Otherwise – no, it’s absolutely not an attempt on my part to punish the guy for his years of absence. I can say that unequivocally. I don’t have any desire to punish him whatsoever. On the other hand, no – I probably won’t be going out of my way to tell him that I’ve been writing about my search on my site either. Obviously, I don’t want to freak him out. And there would really be no need to get freaked out. I mean, my search has shown me that there are a number of Tom Coates in the world – enough to make it very hard to find one specific one. I dunno. Maybe I’m rationalising.
I guess I just don’t really think this stuff on my site is really about him anyway. As far as I’m concerned, there are very good reasons for me to write about this process online – firstly because it makes me feel braver about the whole thing and is helping me follow through and continue with the process, and secondly because doing it in public makes it more likely that I’ll find the guy concerned. It’s been a backgrounded thread on my site for years – I wrote my first post about it in 2001: Looking for Tom Coates – and I think if I hadn’t started to do that kind of stuff four years ago I wouldn’t be in this position now.

I used paragraph marks because your built-in preview concatenated my paragraphs into one.
Whether this resolves itself on publish I have no idea – but the site certainly doesn’t make it clear.
Infact, it’s rather ambiguous. Your post box actually mentions “(You may use HTML tags for style)”.
I’m suprised, considering your regular critisms of other sites usability.

I can see vegetablelock’s point. Indeed, this reminds me of a thread in Barbelith where a member was misguided enough to publish a sad and drunken letter from her ex-boyfriend. However, as far as I can tell, Tom hasn’t published any such personal details (etc) about his father, and the chances of his father reading these posts and actually knowing they concern him are, quite frankly, very slim. Also, considering the situation, if he were to discover this website, I doubt Tom’s father will be hurt or offended by all this, as it is all part of Tom’s well intended attempt to deal with and face this very sensitive issue. Any father would / should understand.

I think, therefore, that what Tom is doing here is actually beneficial and not damaging to others. After all, Tom is not alone in this experience and, as well as giving himself the courage to go ahead with this process, others in similar positions may also draw strength from these posts.

Good luck with your search Tom, and best wishes.

I’ve actually been following this with keen interest for reasons of my own — as an adoptive parent, it seems like something close to what my daughter may one day be grappling with, and, well, it seems like something I need to know.
Good luck, Tom. And thanks.

Comments are closed.