Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University wants to know about your coincidences!

Supermarket sensations

I’d started working as a kids’ entertainer, roughly 3 years after leaving my last cruise ship contract. In my local Waitrose, I met a girl, Vicky, a beauty therapist who I’d known very well on my last ship. What made this coincidence stand out, was not the chance meeting. I palpably felt the presence of someone familiar, and turned around to find her standing with her back to me. So convinced was I that I knew her, I took the trouble to look at Vicky’s face. Otherwise, we would have walked right past each other, looking in opposite directions.

Kenny the Copier Man

On my first day working at a photocopier wholesaler in St Albans, one of the engineers, named Kenny, offered me a lift home. It was only a five-minute drive, during which time we started talking about travelling. We’d both been to Australia several years previously. It turned out, it was at the same time.

Ron Biederman's Trousers

Of all the bizzare coincidences I've experienced, this is my personal favourite: I was working as a singing gondolier in Miami, and managed to get all my possessions stolen on a Greyhound bus trip.

Renuka and Renata

I have no idea who Renuka and Renata are, but they were part of a very strange occurrence. My girlfriend and I were moving to a “shared house” in Storey Road in Walthamstow, NE London. The Chequers pub was our local. As we arrived, two sisters were leaving. We quite literally passed them in the hall, and they were gone. They had been occupying the room that we were about to take over. Over the next few months living there, we heard many stories about Renuka and Renata, which, frankly, I have forgotten. They were Kiwis of Maori descent , who had returned to New Zealand.

Tony Takes his Trousers Down!

I was the wedding photographer at my old schoolfriend's sister's wedding. It was a small affair in a remote Hampshire church. My girlfriend at the time came with me to help, and couldn't believe her eyes when she saw the groom - an old friend of hers from Kent university (I don't know why he was known as "Tony Takes His Trousers Down", lol).

Out of this world

Seeing a Uni lab mate from Birmingham leave the shore in Viet Nam. On the same round the world trip, meeting a Brit in New Zealand who turned out to have gone to the same woodwork class as the other person I traveled with 8 years earlier. </p> <p>Then bumping into John in a hostel in San Diego when my card stopped working and managed to blag a discount because I could share his dorm key. </p> <p>On this trip I left South East Asia 11 days before the Tsunami and I left New Orleans 12 weeks before Hurricane Katrina.

Climbing Kilimanjaro

A few years ago while studying for my undergraduate degree I travelled to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. The route we took meant the whole climb would take a week, taking 5 days to get to base camp before summiting and then quickly coming down off the mountain again in just two days. On the morning of the sixth day I made it to the summit, where the cold meant I was only able to stay for about half an hour. While there I was astonished to run into a friend of mine who was taking the same course as me at university and in the same year.

Shabby chic

Watching 'Take me out' which I had deferred to the repeat 1 hr later because of another programme clashing, one of the girl's suggested the reason she had chosen not to date the guy was because he had cleaned up too well and she preferred 'shabby chic' which was an odd and not oft used term. At the same time I was browsing ebay at the time and had selected 'vintage' items from the search options. One of the related searches presented was 'shabby chic' which I had never before noticed as an ebay search option!

Meet the midwife

My daughter in her gap year went to Kolkata to help in a neurosurgery unit. She stayed in an international hostel. On her first morning she was joined at breakfast by a lady who after some discussion turned out to be the first person who ever touched my daughter- the midwife who attended her birth 18 years before. They had never met in the interim. It does seem very surprising but the English midwife's husband was a geriatrician who had worked in the hospital in England where my daughter was born and was back in Kolkata visiting relatives.

Finding a book

Last week I was on holiday in Marrakech. Before I went away I loaded a book on to my kindle but when I arrived in Marrakech I realised I had only got the sample. I was unable to get the rest of it to download so I was disappointed as I had been looking forward to reading it. The day after I arrived was my birthday and I noticed a small collection of books in the reception area of the hotel that had been left by other guests. Only a few were in English, they were mainly French. I picked up a book and much to my surprise it was the book I had been trying to download.