Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Chance meeting

In the early 1970s, while working in Helsinki, a Russian colleague, noting that I came from London, expressed surprise that I didn't know another person he had met from London, as though it was a village where we all knew one another. Not to mention that the person had a common name, probably held by hundreds of Londoners. In 1977, I went to work in New York. Later, a colleague who had arrived the very same week as me mentioned a trip she had made to Russia. And yes, she was the person the Russian in Helsinki had thought I ought to know. We became friends and still are.
Total votes: 339
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:12:03 +0000Coincidence ID:3644


My husband, plus two very close friends, plus two mothers of close friends of my son all share the same birthday - 18th September. Three other close friends share the same birthday - 13th May, the day before mine! </p> <p>My daughter was on a Gap year in France last year. During the summer holidays, she was one of the youth workers who took a group of young people to a theme park close to where she was based, near Toulouse. Whilst sitting watching them on a ride she heard 'there's Aoife' - it was the family of one of her best friends from school, the friend herself had just left her family to return home earlier the same day.
Total votes: 392
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:11:19 +0000Coincidence ID:3642

Old Friend

In the 1970s when I was 12, I was best friends with a girl called Mary. We both came from expatriate American families and were very close. Her family moved back to America and although we kept in touch for awhile, I last saw her when we were 14. After that we lost touch entirely. 14 years later, having trained as an actress, I was appearing on breakfast television to promote a drama series I was in at the time. During one of the ad breaks, a floor assistant handed me a piece of paper which said "please call Mary your old school friend" and gave a London number. The assistant said that she had called the programme to leave the message for me. I was astonished and called her straight away. It turned out she was now living in London and was in post-graduate training as an actress herself (we had never discussed our future careers when we were 12). She had (unusually) switched on the television to get the weather report at the exact moment the camera was on me during the brief interview. It was pure coincidence she saw me and recognised me. She had no idea i was still in the UK (having assumed our family, like hers, would have eventually returned to the US) and no idea I was an actress. We had an emotional reunion, and our close friendship was renewed!
Total votes: 375
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:11:00 +0000Coincidence ID:3641


In 1982 we moved into a cottage flat and the house opposite was called "Overisje". In 1992 we moved to Brussels and were directed to look for a house in Jesus Eik, which turned out to be in the commune of Overisje.
Total votes: 340
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:10:54 +0000Coincidence ID:3640

lottery coincidence

'On 11 September 2002.the fitst anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center, balls in the city's draw spookily came out as 9.11. Yet nearly 6000 players had selected those numbers.' From my book FATE'S BOOKIE: HOW THE LOTTERY SHAPED THE WORLD Gary Hicks
Total votes: 337
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:10:44 +0000Coincidence ID:3639

Bus in Moscow

In 1967 I was a student who, through a friend of mine, took part in a trip behind what was then "the Iron Curtain". My friend's wife was a student at Manchester, studying Russian, & wanted to travel to Russia. She had no money & worked out that the cheapest way to do it was to organise a student trip going there and this could be done by us all buying places, which included the purchase of a double-decker bus, which would be our mode of transport. 2 engineering students at Manchester, who were to be the drivers of the bus, were dispatched to buy a bus, which they did from a specialist scrap yard. They chose what was known as a "country bus" as it was a bit lower than normal double-deckers, having a sunken walk-way & long bench seats on the top deck. Our route was plotted by the AA to avoid low bridges [they only got it wrong once - which took a chunk out of the top near-side corner of the bus!] & was made easier by the slightly lower than normal double-decker. We travelled for 6 weeks, visiting Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, Hungary & East Germany en route. We stayed in hostels & camp sites, often escorted by a "guide" whose job it was to keep us under control. This was the case in the Soviet Union, where we were for 3 weeks of the trip. It was a bit like Summer Holiday only more dishevelled & argumentative. One of the high spots, of course, was Red Square, where we parked in front of St Basil's & sang folk-songs. An Englishman approached and was very friendly & curious about the bus, which he'd heard about from Russian friends [we were a hot news item for a few days] and was gobsmacked to find that it was the very bus on which he'd been a conductor for many years, on a route between Liverpool & North Wales. I forget why he was in Moscow, because I was so taken with the coincidence. Jenny
Total votes: 356
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:10:37 +0000Coincidence ID:3637

John Logie Baird

Two years ago in September we were holidaying in Ontario, Canada, at the house of a friend. We were given the loan of his car to go shopping and had parked the car in a carpark downtown when we were approached by a somewhat unsteady Canadian who was pointing at the numberplate on the front of the car: "B'deck!" he exclaims, "Tha's B'deck!" This meant nothing to us, so we asked him to explain. The plate was BDK, signifying that it was originally plated in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. "Surely you know of Baddeck.....the place where John Logie Baird built his house and transmitted across the Atlantic?" We had not heard of this place and had forgotten about JLB. Perhaps, by the look of his out of town clothes this gentleman was from Nova Scotia and was a bit homesick. Anyway we had a laugh over it and went our separate ways. Later that day I emailed my daughter-in-law back in Scotland, telling her of the encounter. I thought it would be of interest to her because she had spent some time in Nova Scotia. Straightway she emailed back saying that by an amazing coincidence she had just been helping her son with a homework assignment he had been given by the school: it was a piece of research and writing on John Logie Baird's house in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.
Total votes: 358
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:09:36 +0000Coincidence ID:3636

Same name an age apart

Two years ago close friends of mine bought an old house near Petersfield, found for him by an estate agent. It was to be knocked down and a new one erected in it's place. While clearing several out buildings they came across a pile of old leather boxes and cases covered in leaves. One of the larger heavy cases was monogramed with the name Russell, is was about 100 years old. The name of my friend is also Russell, spookey or what? They have since had the cases professionally renovated and are on display in the new house as a great talking point. Regards Mike H
Total votes: 394
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:09:14 +0000Coincidence ID:3635

Call centre coincidence

I worked on a help desk in a very busy financial call centre and was one of about sixty staff that took calls from customers, branches and other call centres about ISA's and Bonds. During 2010's busiest time of year (peak season) we were struggling to answer all of the calls often meaning that queues of frustrated customers 300 deep would be waiting for a very long time to talk to an advisor. At this time I remember talking to a Mr Fletcher. He wanted to discuss both his and his wife's accounts but he knew that due to financial regulations I wouldn't be able to talk to him about his wife's accounts unless she was with him and I could ask her some security questions. After i dealt with Mr Fletchers query he told me that his wife was at work and would call sometime that day. The very next call I took was from Mrs Fletcher! This, given that we were over run with calls and of all the advisors she should come through to me straight after I had been talking to her husband to say the least blew my mind. As soon as I found out her name I told her conveying a large amount of excitement that I had just been talking to her husband. Mrs Fletcher was baffled by this as she didn't think her husband had any ISA's. Feeling a bit worried that I had, in my consternation, let slip some confidential information relating to someone else's account I quickly realised after looking at her details that she was an entirely different Mrs Fletcher. This Mrs Fletcher seemed very unimpressed after I had explained how incredibly unusual this was so I buried my amazement and carried on with her entirely unrelated call. So as the saying goes 'what are the chances of that happening'?
Total votes: 322
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:09:10 +0000Coincidence ID:3634

chance encounter leads to 30 years of marriage

Reading station 1981. I swore at the lateness of the train. She commiserated. We had a drink waiting for the next one. Got into same carriage, still slightly shy. Each took out a book...we were both reading Saul Bellow's novel Henderson the Rain King. Hard to say at this distance whether this was what clinched it. We soon found out that she had lived years before in the same street as my grandmother, so we must often have seen each other as children: a second coincidence. A slighter, third, coincidence is that we both went to boarding schools - separate ones - in the same town.
You voted 3. Total votes: 425
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:08:49 +0000Coincidence ID:3633