Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Musical connection

As part of my research into hymn writers in the Isle of Man, I was given access to an ms collection which had been made by the late Cecil McFee. His daughter, Kath Looney, gave me permission to use the hymns in a publication I was preparing. Among the papers was a sheet on which he had written from memory a song that had been sung to him by his father, who had emigrated briefly to Canada in the early 1900s. The song was a Canadian slave song. In 1998, I took a copy of the song with me to a conference in Prince Edward Island, intending to show it to someone in the Music Department of the University. However, on the first day of the conference, I met a couple who had emigrated from the English Midlands several decades before, and were now living in Britich Columbia. Learning that they were members of a folk group, I showed them the song. It was one they didn't recognise so were delighted to have a new song to add to their repertoire. However, Andrea was startled to see the name of Cecil McFee as, in her childhood, her family had holidayed in the Isle of Man, had stayed in a house near the McFees, whom they knew well, and had been babysat by his daughter, Kath. I still find this one of the most remarkable coincidences of my life, and still get goosebumps when I think about it! Dr Fenella Bazin Honorary Research Fellow Centre for Manx Studies The University of Liverpool
Total votes: 334
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:17:55 +0000Coincidence ID:3662

Antipodean Double Whammy

1991 during an exchange year teaching in Sydney I was travelling by bus from Alice Springs to Ayres Rock with American brother - in - law, Don. Sitting between us was a young English man with whom Don got into conversation. Despite being from California, Don grew up in the late 1930's in Burnley, Lancs. The young man came from Burnley and it turned out they had many people in common, despite the age difference. I joined the conversation and discovered that he was at Cambridge University and his two best friends, and room mates, were boys that I had taught at Loughborough Grammar School. Tony.
Total votes: 326
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:17:42 +0000Coincidence ID:3661

John Chambers

Visiting a friend yesterday, we struggled to remember the name of a particular individual who'd been on the same course as ourselves a few years ago. Eventually, the name emerged: John Chambers. This morning 14JAN12 at about 08h40 on the Today programme, the presenters referred to an expert named John Chambers.
Total votes: 355
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:17:41 +0000Coincidence ID:3660

Terrorist bombings

I am an employment adviser and lay representative at employment tribunals. Just over ten years ago a client (Newton House Bakery based near Huddersfield and now no longer trading) received a claim for unfair dismissal and asked me to handle the case. Accordingly, I travelled to their offices in order to investigate their side of the claim and to take instruction. The meeting lasted until lunchtime. As I left, I turned on the car radio and heard some breathtaking and shocking news. The date was 11th September 2001 and, of course, the event was the bombing of the World Trade Centre. I did not visit this client again until the 11th March 2004 when they rceieved another employment tribunal claim and, once again, I visited them in the morning to investigate the claim and to take instruction. As I left, I turned on the car radio and heard some breathtaking and shocking news. The event was the bombings at the Atocha railway station in Madrid. Fortunately for world saftey, this client had no more tribunal claims. Andrew
Total votes: 355
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:17:28 +0000Coincidence ID:3659

A song and a butterfly

I was teaching English to a French student using a song by Labi Siffre called "Make My Day" The student had to pick out as many English words as possible. We were sitting in my lounge and as Labi Siffre sang the words, "Butterfly flying by," A beautiful butterfly flew straight between us! Incroyable! I had never seen a butterfly in the house before and I have not seen one since. This occured on November 19th 2010 at about 2.30pm French time. (1.30pm UK). Dale, Normandy.
Total votes: 381
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:17:10 +0000Coincidence ID:3658

Address Coincidence

Just over 20 years ago I returned from working in the United States to Belgium. My family and I had spent 3 years working in Midland, Michigan, a small town of about 50,000 people in mid-Michigan. The following summer we went on holiday with friends to a small town on the Atlantic coast of France called Blaye. We stayed in a small, old wine chateau on the outskirts of the town. My wife and I took the last double room available and, when I was looking in the bedside cabinet drawer, I found a piecce of paper. Written on it was an address on the same road as that of my daughter's Junior High School in Midland, MI.
Total votes: 345
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:16:16 +0000Coincidence ID:3657

Cats and a haircut

I used to work as a vet in Burnley in Lancashire but moved to Lincolnshire more than a few years ago. Anyway, about six months or so after having moved I made a return journey to Lancashire to visit my friends and while I was there I decided to get my hair cut at my previous "usual" barbers. As I was sat in the chair, chatting away, the barber asked me how I was getting on in my new job. The lady in the chair next to mine overheard that I was a vet and now living in Lincolnshire and mentioned that her daughter also lived in Lincolnshire and had a cat. In fact, the cat had been to the vets the previous day. (You can see where this is going can't you?) "Where does she live?" I asked. "Woodhall Spa", was the reply. So I asked for the daughter's name and her cat's, and sure enough, I was the vet who had attended to the cat twenty four hours earlier. The chances of this happening depend on so many unrelated factors - my visit to Lancashire; deciding to get the haircut; the timing of both; the lady in the next chair deciding to have her hair done at that time; the daughter living in the village where she does and having a cat; the cat being ill, and me being on duty at the right moment.
Total votes: 336
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:15:51 +0000Coincidence ID:3656

A matter of time and place

I bought, here in the UK, a mechanical toy car, a present for my son. As a family we then traveled 500 miles to the East of France to visit relatives. The toy car was a great success but it was quickly realised that it needed some adjustments and for this a minute Allen Key would be needed (about 1mm). With just a couple of hours to closing time, prior to a holiday period, an journey to the not too local shopping complex was made. Time was pressing but the time we reached the shopping area and parked in one of those vast brick paved parking areas. The shops we visited could not help and finally we had to return to the car - a 100 or so meters across a now almost deserted car park. Something caught my eye, there resting in the small depression formed by the beveled edges of the interlocking prick paving - an Allen Key. What an extraordinary chance but was it the right size YES What are the chances of that ever happening again ? CM
Total votes: 315
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:15:24 +0000Coincidence ID:3655

The Tardis Lift

Over 40 years ago, a lift in a Liverpool hotel appeared to pick floors at random due to some fault. After several long waits over two days, whilst returning to our rooms for the night, I remarked to my colleague that "this lift is just like the Tardis", at that instant without warning the lift pinged the door opened and out strode William Hartnell , the then Dr. Who, in full costume with his silver topped cane. Needless to say, whilst standing open mouthed, the lift door closed, and our wait began all over again. info. In those days the Dr. of the day was unable to guide his craft, it took him to the point of need.
Total votes: 348
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:15:18 +0000Coincidence ID:3654

Coincidence in itself

I have always been interested in coincidences. The comment 'It's just a coincicidence' always seemed too dismissive. However, I nearly didn't know about the Cambridge study. I was lying in bed this morning reluctant to get up because it was Saturday. Radio 4 had gone off automatically at its usual time. I turned it back on, hoping for an interesting item, just in time to hear the request for coincidences.
Total votes: 383
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:15:05 +0000Coincidence ID:3653