Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

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.


I loved with a man named Sheh (shay) for 2 years in the UK. It’s short for Shehan which was actually his middle name. But his family heritage is from Sri Lanka. He personally would consider himself a huge metal head with Tool being one of his top top artists. Pretty prone to smoking weed and was not shy to psychedelics. Avid guitarist and comic book reader. Pretty much exclusive wears black. I then go travelling for a bit in NZ and pick up a hitchhiker going by the name of Shane. Weirdly enough his brothers name is Shehan. Seemed to be wearing exclusively black clothes and had long hair. I asked him what music he was into… Tool. And where does your heritage lie? “Well I’m originally from Sri Lanka.” Turns out Shane was also a big fan of smoking cannabis and the occasional psychedelics. Not a guitarist but a drummer, and not necessarily a comic reader, but rather writes his own. They didn’t particularly look alike or act alike, but their descriptions are spookily exactly the same.

Of all the photos...

A few years ago my mother decided to start researching the family tree. She went to Cambridge Central Library to get out a few books to help her. There was a large section on genealogy. She picked out a few books, flicked through them and chose the three which most appealed. She queued up to take them out and as she pushed them along she realised that the photo on the cover of the top book, was a photo of her and 5 friends during her nursing training days. Inside the cover it said ‘unknown nurses’ so she wrote to the author to let her know who they were. Of all the photos ever taken in the world... still gives me shivers.


Soon after buying my home, I was looking through documents of past owners. It gave names, dates, and previous residences. About 40 years earlier, someone had moved from my childhood home, to this same house

Haircut - oh brother!

In 2001 I travelled to Japan. Spending three months in Tokyo I eventually needed to get a haircut. speaking no Japanese I was handed a folder in which the barber had cut out pictures from magazines of people with various hair styles so the customer could choose a style. Leafing through the pictures I was confronted by a picture of my brother! Not a model my brother had been photographed on the street in London by a Japanese style magazine. Needless to say I didn't select his picture.