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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Dog-gone

In 1991 I attended an Open University residential course in Durham, having travelled from Glasgow. In my tutorial group was another woman who lived locally to Durham but was Scottish. We talked during breaks and she said she was still mourning the recent loss of her elderly, much-loved, Great Dane. At this time I also had a Great Dane, younger than hers, which we'd adopted following the untimely death of our previous dog, also a Great Dane. As the week went on we probably became quite boring as we shared so many "doggy" incidents, and because she lived locally she brought in some photos of her dog and the new Great Dane puppy she'd recently acquired. Eventually towards the end of the week she said "I'll never forget driving up the road to Moffat to collect my first puppy ".

Family Link

I am a concert pianist and use my maiden name professionally. One day after I'd played a concert a lady approached me and said she had the same maiden name and wondered if we could be related. We talked and she told me her gg-grandfather was a gamekeeper on an estate about 150 miles away. My gg-grandfather was also a gamekeeper, but the first name was different and I didn't know the location. Some additional research revealed we shared a ggg-grandfather, but her line wasn't shown on the ancestry information I'd been given. Our relationship is described as "distant" and we keep in touch - she lives about 3 miles from me.

Finding a relative like a needle in a haystack

My in-laws, who have Greek heritage, lived in a small Australian town called Cooranbong on Australia’s East Coast, it has a population of perhaps 2,000 people. 2 doors down lived an elderly couple who were well known and respected in the community and they had 2 kids, both adopted. I had grown up in Sydney (Australia’s most populated city) and when I met my wife-to-be and her parents living in Cooranbong in the mid 1980’s, the coincidence was that the daughter (adopted) of the neighbours was a teacher of mine several years before. But that wasn’t the story. It turns out that Karen had sought out her birth parents and had found her mother’s name 4,000 kms across Australia in the city of Perth. She shared the name with my in-laws who quickly recognised the name being both Greek and familiar in the true sense. It turned out that across the vast country that is Australia, in a small town a long way from anywhere, my father-in-law was able to connect with a second cousin, who had been adopted and now lived 2 doors from him.

Same book referenced in book and movie on same day

I'm reading Triptych by Karin Slaughter. Earlier today, while I was reading, one of the characters has his books checked by a parole officer. He has a copy of Tess of the the D'Urbervilles which seems highly unlikely for him but it was the last book he was supposed to read in high school before he is jailed as a teenager for a rape and murder (he might not have committed). Less than an hour later I'm watching Once Upon a time in Hollywood and the character of Sharon Tate goes to a bookstore to purchase a rare copy of Tess of the D'Urbevilles. I've not read this book but I'm thinking maybe I should. It was also one of my friends from college favourite books. I've not spoken to her in a long time and now I'm feeling I should.

Twins & wedding anniversary

We got married 9:4 1983 Our only children ( twins) were born 3.8.1994 We thought this was an amazing coincidence of having the same numbers What are the chances of this ?

Funeral story

About 15 years ago, a near-neighbour where I grew up in north wales died, and I attended her funeral (the first I had ever been to). A day later, someone I knew, who lived in a tiny village 120 miles or so away in Derbyshire, messaged to ask if I could help another friend of his: she was giving a speech at her aunt’s funeral and wanted to say something in Welsh, so could I help translate it? Needless to say, it was the aunt’s funeral that I had attended a day earlier without knowing. His request had reached me too late. Still freaks me out to think about this.

A chance encounter

I have always lived and worked in the UK. In 2008, while holidaying in New Zealand, I visited the Franz Josef Glacier and was walking across the nearby Douglas Bridge when I recognised a familiar figure advancing from the opposite side. This was a former colleague who had left my employers several years before and who, like me, had flown half way round the world for a holiday.

friendly coincidence

My name is Vihini (I'm tall and I have a dark skin complexion) and my best friend is Lochana (she is short and she has a fair complexion). After our o/l we went to separate schools. The person who sat next to my friend in her new school was also another Vihini (short and dark complexion). My friend was surprised and she also have mentioned the other Vihini about me, Vihini as her best friend. but then that Vihini have told Lochana that the best friend of her was also another Lochana (tall and fair) in the same school. and surprisingly Lochana and other Vihini did biology stream and me and other Lochana did maths stream. it was like a paradoxical coincidence.

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