BT joins the detectives on trail of lost friends

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The Independent Online
HAVE YOU ever wondered what happened to the ink-stained child with the astonishing talent for breaking wind at the most inopportune moment who sat next to you in class all those years ago?

What future lay in store for the kid who lived next door, the unfortunate victim of your first date, or the man who suffered the miseries of National Service with you?

A guide to tracking down names from the past is published today by British Telecom and Pinkerton's, one of the world's most famous private detective agencies.

BT commissioned a survey of more than 1,000 people which revealed that Britain is 'a nation of hopeless nostalgics who long to get back in touch with old pals from the past'. The survey shows that on average Britons have lost touch with five people who they would like to see again. Of those wanting a reunion, 59 per cent would like to track down schoolmates and 28 per cent former work colleagues.

Not surprisingly, BT, which this year announced pre-tax profits of pounds 3,073m, emphasises the role of the telephone in all this. The preface to the guide says: 'Why not let the phone help you arrange an exciting reunion.'

But BT said yesterday that research had shown a genuine need for such information and that the guide was not just a way of boosting profits further.

The guide recommends compiling a chart listing everything that can be remembered about the person being sought, including hobbies, lifestyle, religion, profession, relatives and mutual friends.

Electoral registers, former schools, ex-servicemen's organisations, past employers and even holiday tour operators can all be used in the hunt.

Sometimes the search can be more simple than that. David Bicknell of Pinkerton's said: 'A look through telephone directories can often be all that is required.'

The guide is free, available by phoning 0800-800 864.