Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Why? By recording your coincidence stories here, you can help him build a picture of what kinds of coincidences are out there and which ones seem to ‘get to’ us the most. Your coincidence stories can also help him explore the scientific explanations which may account for them – whether by doing the maths to calculate the chances of a coincidence, or speculating on the weird and wonderful workings of our brains.

Coincidences tend to be ‘surprising matches’ – sometimes they are lucky, sometimes unlucky, sometimes just mind-boggling. To help you recall the coincidences that have happened in your life, here’s a list of some common types of coincidence:

  • Surprising repetitions: for instance when you’ve had not contact with someone for ages, then find two connections to them very close together in time. Or when over several years multiple members of the same family are born with the same birthday. Or even a repetition of a really rare event – like winning the lottery twice, or your life being saved twice by the same person!
  • Simultaneous events: for example when two people phone each other at exactly the same time.
  • Parallel lives: such as when two people in a small group find they share a birthday or an unusual name, or when two people discover their lives match each other in bizarre details.
  • Uncanny patterns: imagine picking letters in Scrabble that spell your name.
  • Unlikely chains of events: perhaps you lost your false teeth overboard and found them inside a fish you caught twenty years later?

If anything coincidental has happened to you - anything that made you stop and say "well, what were the chances of that..?" - then please record your story in the form below! Please try to keep your story personal - about you or someone you know. The only thing we'd ask you to steer clear of are premonitions or déjà vu, purely because - whilst fascinating - they're quite common and also difficult to analyse.

You could also tell us about coincidences in the news, but please provide a link to a reliable source!

Title: two or three words that give a simple description of your story, eg ‘old friend’ or ‘birthday coincidence’
Coincidence: tell your coincidence story - and please include plenty of relevant detail (places, dates, numbers etc.) and include your first name if you want.
Email address (optional): please leave an email address, as then we can get in touch to find out more!

All of the information entered below except your email address will be published on this website when you press save

By ticking this box you agree that your email address can be forwarded to Wingspan Productions Ltd, who are making a BBC television programme about Chance and would like to feature Professor David Spiegelhalter's coincidence collection. In doing so you agree that the producers of the programme may contact you directly to ask you more about your story, though whether you decide to help them is entirely up to you. Your details will not be forwarded to any other party or used for marketing purposes.

Vertical Tabs

Same village; different country

Some years ago myself (Manda) and my partner (Garry) lived in Holland in a caravan on a farm in a tiny village called Ledeacker, in Brabant, near the German border. (in case you want to find it). When we moved back to England one of our dutch friends (Ans, who didnt come from Ledeacker) would visit us once a year and would meet our English friends, one of whom was a girl called Kate. She came from Cornwall. One year Ans was visiting and we decided to surprise Kate with a visit (pre mobile phone days).

Spatula spookiness

With radio headphones in, I was in the garage and came across an old spatula which should have been in the kitchen. I was just carrying the spatula back into the kitchen when the radio voice in my ear said ".....I'm no chef, I don't go round holding a spatula". I looked down at what was in my hand, not really believing she had just said that, as it is probably something you would never hear on the radio again. Bizarre.

Two songs

I was driving in Spain, and we had Spanish radio on. So far they had played just Spanish songs for the whole journey. One was quite a catchy tune, so I turned to my son and idly said “it’s a shame there aren’t more tunes like that, where you pick up the tune the first time you hear it. It’s a bit like that song last year from Kelly Clarkson, you knew as soon as you heard it that it had a good tune. What was it called now? The …. something… song. Ironic!

Heading that way

I was looking through some old books, with my earphones in as I also listened to a play on the radio. I found an old book and started thumbing through it, finding a page to read at random. My eyes alighted on the text: “What are we going to do next?” she asked, “do you think we should head that way?” No sooner had I finished reading those words than a character in the radio play in my ears suddenly stated “I wouldn’t head that way if I was you!”, as though answering what I had just read on the page even though it was in a completely different context.

Purple carrots

I was watching Have I Got News for You on iPlayer and they had reached the missing words round. The first sentence was ‘blank’ used to be purple, scrawny and pungent, and the missing word answer turned out to be carrots. Then the picture suddenly froze and so while I was waiting for the bandwidth to return I glanced down at my local paper. It was open on page 37 and the first thing I looked down at was a headline saying ‘Antequera Produces The First Purple Carrot Gin’.

Good vibrations

Turned on the radio which was set to BBC Norfolk to hear them playing Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys. I wanted to listen to a pop quiz on Radio 2 so turned over immediately to hear the quiz master saying “no, sorry, the actual answer was Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys.”


As I was writing a book, I wrote an e-mail to my Mum regarding the number of words in an average novel. I listed some famous ones as examples. The first on my list was The Hobbit, at 95,000 words. An hour after writing I turned on Radio 4 and there was a programme with a section on how to write a good book and one of the first questions the interviewee asked the interviewer was 'how many words would you guess are in The Hobbit?’ Now if that is not a coincidence I don't know what is.

Dart score double

My son Daniel and I were playing darts. He has no technique and just chucks the darts and hopes for the best, often missing the board completely. After a while he had a go and his 3 darts happened to land in the treble 20, then 18, then also a treble 10, totalling 98, an amazingly good score for him. I had my go, then Daniel stepped up again. He threw a treble 20, 18, and treble 10, totalling 98. Exactly the same, in the same order, 2 goes running, just by complete chance - no skill involved!

Custard apples

I was reading a Spanish magazine and they were explaining how the Malaga area was increasing yields in certain less common fruits such as custard apples. I had not heard of these before and wondered whether or not I should try one, but soon forgot about it. Two hours later I was listening to a BBC podcast comedy chat with Dave Gorman and the subject got onto fruit. Out of nowhere he suddenly said “Have you tried custard apples?”, then went on to describe how delicious they were and the fact that they did actually taste of custard.

Mandela impression

At the time Nelson Mandela died, I was listening to some tributes to him on the radio. They were playing a speech of his that was quite lengthy which I had never heard before. I wasn't really listening to what he was saying as I was sorting out some receipts at the same time, but I thought I would practise my Mandela impression so waited for a pause in the speech as Mandela rose to a crescendo with “…and what I say to you all here is……” at which point he paused so I came out with a random “Let there be peace!” in my best Mandela voice.