Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

When in Rome

Back in 1971 whilst still an architecture student my friend and I decided to go to Greece. We both had summer jobs and I decided to leave early and hitch hike to Athens. My friend was to fly out later and I would meet him at the airport. I duely hitch hiked to Athens and was there for about a week before his flight was due. Somehow As the plane was due in just after midnight one of us must have got confused about the date and he wasn't on the plane. This was before mobile phones so I assumed he changed his mind. I had a great 8 weeks going all over the Greek Islands and the time came to return. I got the ferry to Brindisi in Italy and started to hitch hike up Italy. I eventually arrived at Rome and went to the Youth Hostel. Who should be checking out at the exactly the same time I arrived but the friend I should have met at Athens airport 10 weeks earlier

Extraordinary Intercontinental Family Intergenerational Collision

Upon graduating from Cambridge in June 1961 I pursued an International Business Career objective of living and working in South America, becoming a trainee with Balfour Williamson in the City, transferring to their subsidiary SACAE in Guayaquil, Ecuador in March 1962. Upon my arrival I was introduced to the English Managing Director of SACAE, whiose name was John W. The first personal question he asked me following the initial business discussions, related to my Mother' name! He wanted to know if I was in any way related to a Phyllis D who had married a Stuart H in 1935, since my surname was H? I was amazed for amongst other personal matters, my wish for a career far removed from the UK geographically was to create a life for myself and my young wife in an entirely NEW environment unfettered by any contacts or relationships! It turned out that John W married a Joan B also in 1935.

Jetsetting in the Lake District

I was brought up in Malaysia, and as an ex-pat our family were regular fliers to and from the UK. We once had a family holiday touring the north of England, and one of our stops was the Lake District. Having dinner at the hotel that evening, my mother thought she vaguely recognised someone sitting at a nearby table. After a while she went up to this man and after a few moments conversation they worked out that they had both been standing in the queue for the loo on the flight over from Malaysia a couple of weeks earlier, and they had struck up a casual conversation at the time - and here we were two weeks later in Windermere!

Mothers Death.

Around 1988 my mother used to allow a New Zeland cricket professional lodge at her home for 2 seasons. He was the professional for the local cricket club my brother used to play for. After he left and returned to New Zeland there was no contact with him. My mother mover houses approx 3 years later and my brother bought her house where she used to live when the cricketer lodged with her. Approx 6 years later my mother passed away at 2am in hospital. At 8am on that day the cricketer rang her former home telephone number and my brother who now owned the house with the same telephone number. The cricketer said he was looking through a box from his attic at home in New Zeland and he came accross my mothers phone number so he decided to ring her after all these years. This was the first time for many years he tried to ring her and she actually passed away approx 5 hours earlier. She was in the uk and he was in New Zeland.

Down the Line

Many years ago I phoned a friend of mine, Sarah. On picking up the receiver (house phone, pre-mobile days), instead of hearing a dial tone the line was blank. After a short pause I heard a "hello", and it was Sarah! She had phoned me and I had picked up my phone to call her just before it started to ring.

birthday coincidence

good morning i heard your piece on the radio this morning and you quoted the chances of three children born to the same parents and sharing birthdays. my example is similar in that myself and my brother (two only children) share our birthday with our mother. i was born on her 23rd birthday and my brother was born on her 34th birthday. myself 2 days late and my brother 10 days late. what are the chances of that? regards art

Chance Meeting on a Beach !

I was a graduate of University of Kent until 1982 when one of my best mates went off to University of California to do his MA . In 1984 lying on a beach in Ios, Cyclades i threw back an American football to an American youth on a European tour who was coming to London and due to stay with the mother of a boy he had met at university in California, who lived in Romford, Essex . He unfortunately had misplaced the phone number of the lady. I was able to supply him with that number there and then as it was my students friend mum !!!

Surprise birthday party

During my first semester of college, in December 1963, I was contacted over the winter break by someone I'd known in high school who said that plans were in the works to throw a surprise birthday party for a mutual friend and told me to call Laurel, at whose parents' apartment in upper Manhattan the party was being held. I barely knew Laurel, who also went to my high school but was a year behind me -- so it was a considerable source of embarrassment when I dialed her number and found myself patched through into the middle of an ongoing conversation between her and the friend for whom the party was being planned. This is the only time in my life that this kind of phone mix-up has ever happened, and I was sure I'd just blown the surprise, especially when my friend said to me a couple of days later, "Gee, I didn't know you knew Laurel," and I had to quickly make up a cover story. But the coincidences didn't end there.

same day of the week

My brother was born on September 4 My parents were born on February 27 My parents were married on April 10th I was born on July 17 The above all fall on the same day of the week - regardless of year

Wedding & Honeymoon

My honeymoon was arranged by my parents, who purchased everything based on vague instructions (near Carcassone, must have a pool, if I remember correctly). We didn't play any part in it beyond this. The wedding had about 40 guests, and went very well (it happened to be about the only dry day in a very rainy summer, but thats a different - and less impressive coincidence) We arrived at our honeymoon accommodation, and got talking to the owner (who was cleaning the pool). It transpired that he had family near where my wife had just moved from. In fact, on the same street doing the same work as one of my wife's friends. When we enquired if he knew her he answered "Yes - that's my sister" We told him that she had been at our wedding a few days earlier "Oh?" He replied "She did say that she was going to a wedding last weekend" (In short, a completely randomly chosen holiday home, in an area we had never previously visited of another country, was owned - and attended, by the brother of one of the 40 guests at our wedding. With whom she had previously discussed our wedding)