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.

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Vertical Tabs

Different turn

I left for work on Monday, 26.9.2016, around 9 am and continued down the same path I always go. The street I have to cross near my building is usually empty but that morning there was a lot of traffic and on the spur of the moment I made a decision to take a turn and walk down a different street. Two minutes later I met a dear friend that I hadn't seen in months and whom I thought of the previous evening but didn't feel like calling.

My opposite

I went to a work function organised by my wife's employer, and at dinner was sat next to the wife of one of the partners in the firm. She told me that she had grown up in London, specifically in Dulwich, but now lived in Cambridge, where she taught at a sixth form college. I told her that I grew up in Cambridge, and was a student at that sixth form college, but them moved to London, where I now live - in Dulwich.

Date of death/Birthday

My son was diagnosed with leukaemia in late April 2015. He eventually died from the disease on June 19th, 2016. A couple of months later after cleaning her room my 11 year old daughter came downstairs with a beanie bear that was a Christmas gift from her brother in December 2014. The tag was still on the stuffed bear and she pointed out the bears birthday printed on the tag "June 19th". The tag has the name of the bear "Halo".

Electric Fence

A story in our local paper detailed how equipment used to provide high voltage fencing to keep cows in a field had been stolen,and used to electrify children's playground equipment. This was described by people as 'sick and vile'. Being vocal about the disparity between how this equipment was used upon animals and people,I chose to comment about the 'electric fence used on cows'. This evening,only shortly after discussing this item on Facebook,the programme 'It was alright in the 1970s' was discussing sexual diseases and its effects upon her sex life and

Festivals and a marriage

My friend was at a festival a few years ago. Gets talking (and drinking!) with the lady in the tent next to her. They're discussing my friend's daughter and the lady jokingly says that if the daughter gets engaged can she come to the wedding. One year later, that same festival weekend, it's my friend's daughter's wedding. The daughter takes her mum to meet her husband's aunt.... it's the lady from the tent. She got to go to the wedding after all!

Hey, you're Drew!

In 1978 I was a nineteen year old on a solo trip to England from my home in Marin County, California. I was studying acting, and went to England to see some theatre and visit Shakespeare's birthplace. I was walking in the West End of London, with time to kill, and on impulse I bought a ticket for a play I had not planned on seeing. When the first act ended and the house lights came on, I was startled to hear someone behind me say my name. I turned around and sitting directly behind me was a high school classmate of mine from Mill Valley, California.

Chance meeting

As I did 2 or 3 times a month I went to the park (4 miles away) at 10AM to watch the dogs training at agility (running courses with hurdles, tunnels, etc). I do not have a dog. As I approached the training area a dog, who I had never seen before, dropped its toy ball and it rolled my way. I picked it up and gave it back. Its owner, a blonde lady, approached me and retrieved her dog. She asked me if I had a dog. I said no. I introduced myself and she then "told me her first name". It was a slightly unusual name. My brain then clicked her name with having a dog.

A bizzare coincidence

On 11/09/2016 I searched for my brother who I hadn't seen in over 20 years I googled his full name and found a ABN number for a pest control business. I rang the number to find out it was my brother and I was over joyed at finding him and asking to leave the communication door open. Tuesday night the 13th of September I found out that my brother-in-law who is also in pest control died on 11th of September from a fall at work. I find this a bizzare coincidence.

A special message from my Father?

About 6 months before my Dad passed away, he was talking to my daughter on the hands free phone in my car. My daughter and Dad were saying how much they loved each other. Grandpa I love you a hundred: Katie I love you a million, then a trillion and so on back and forth. At one point my daughter couldn't think of a number so as we passed the gas station she read out the gas price which was 84.9- she said I love you 84.9 Grandpa! It stuck between them as a special way of saying how much they loved each other. They would say it when they would say goodbye on the phone every time.

Just saying someone's name...

I was talking to a colleague in the office one morning about the Scotland national football team. He is a good few years younger than me and, at the time, had seen some pretty decent performances over the years. I was telling him about some I had seen from further back, some terrible games. I got round to telling him about one game against San Marino, a team of part time players.