Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Strange encounter

My late husband, Bill Embery, from Preston, Lancs., shared his unusual surname with his cousin, also Bill Embery. I was born and raised in Middlesbrough and met Bill when he came over to work at ICI in Redcar. We eventually moved to Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, where I worked in the office of a school. One of the teachers returned from a cruise holiday where they had shared a table with Bill Embery and his wife Marie, from Preston, Lancs.

birthday coincidence

My sister's son Robbie was born on 11 December 1998, 5 years to the day since my own son Luke was born on 11 December 1993. The funny thing is that Luke was not even due until February 1994, but arrived 10 weeks early after I caught salmonella - very nasty. As far as I know my sister's pregnancy was normal and Robbie arrived on time. Luke became an adult and Robbie a teenager on the same day!

Intimate relations

In the early stages of a relationship with a former girlfriend, we were chatting away and got onto the subject of her bra size, which I correctly guessed. 'ooh you think you know it all dont you?' she said, to which I replied 'Of course, like I also know youve got a big mole on your (........)'. I have no idea at all why I said it, its not a comment i would usually consider making under any circumstances, but it just popped into my head.

Twice on planes

This coincidence occurred in the early 1970s. Following a business visit to Denmark I boarded a British European Airways Trident at Copenhagen Airport. The older Tridents had two rows of seats facing each other halfway down the cabin. As I was about sit on one of them I realised that sitting opposite me was my sailing friend Bill. After several G & Ts we were met at Heathrow by our wives Susan and Jenny who had once been my girlfriend. Six months later I was on a business trip to Australia.

Italian driving license

This is a small coincidence, but it impressed me. I was working as a PA and my boss was Italian. He lost his wallet containing his Italian driving license, and rather than replace it he decided to swap it for a UK license, as he was now resident in the UK. I was worried about how to do this as it's not a normal situation, so I rang the DVLA call centre for advice (with low expectations).

Hands across the Pond

Some years ago now we were temporarily living in a flat in Wapping while waiting for the refurbishment work to be completed on a flat we'd bought in Highgate. While waiting in a queue at the local supermarket I struck a conversation with an American woman behind me. We exchanged the usual pleasantries and I mentioned that my brother was teaching in America, "Where she enquired"? "Oh, I doubt if you've heard of it, it's Ohio State University, in the mid-west." "Really, how odd my daughter is a student there, what does your brother teach"?

Seeing Margaret Thatcher

I was reading a magazine while sitting in a plane waiting for takeoff at Madeira airport. The page I was looking at had a Schweppes advert which purported to show Margaret Thatcher visiting Jeffrey Archer in Prison. I happened to look up - and there was Margaret Thatcher herself looking at me. This was impossible I thought so I blinked and looked again. She was still there. In fact she and her husband were flying back to England from a holiday in Madeira and the plane's takeoff had been delayed to await their arrival at the airport. Their seats were just across the aisle from us.

ONE IN A BILLION

I worked at the British Embassy in Beijing in the eighties and on my return to the UK I went on a sightseeing trip to Hong Kong and then eventually to London. I flew from Beijing to Chungking on the Yangtste River where I took a boat down the river to a city called Wuhan. In Wuhan I boarded a train which took a couple of days (I think) to reach a very scenic tourist spot in the south of China called Guilin. As I got off the train I saw, amongst the teeming crowds, one of the British Embassy drivers with his wife who were obviously going on holiday.

Same Birthday

When I was at primary school there were three of us in the class with the same birthdays, day month and year. As a further coincidence it was the same in my wife's class at her primary school. Also my sister-in-law share the same birthday but not the same year.

Telephone number

During the months after the death of my wife in 1995 I was helped to deal with my loss by a female friend that I had not seen for some time and who had experienced a similar loss. I had written her number down on a cream coloured envelop. In the weeks that followed I agonised as to whether it would be appropriate for me to make a romantic approach to this friend. Finally deciding against the idea I tore the envelop into pieces and put them in a waste paper basket.

Pages