Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

And then, 35 years later. . .

When I was a rebellious teen living in northern Virginia during the early '70s, I ran away from home one summer. My dad, a veteran of three wars, went looking for me at a nearby hippie commune; emerging from the woods behind the commune dressed in full camo gear, armed with a military rifle, but I wasn't there. Many years later, while living in Florida, I went to lunch with a business associate, who told me a funny story she had heard from a old friend the week before. When the friend was young in the early '70s, she lived for a time in a hippie commune in northern Virginia, and one summer day, while the residents were outside relaxing, a "crazy" man came out of the woods, dressed in camo gear and carrying a rifle, and scared them all half to death. I had to tell the business associate that man had to be my dad, and we both marveled at the coincidence.
Total votes: 168
Date submitted:Sun, 26 Apr 2020 14:32:49 +0000Coincidence ID:10438

Trivia game connections

I play a trivia game and the number of times I answer a question, often about something totally obscure, and then look up and see it on the tv, or hear a news item about it. I once asked a friend of mine in Phoenix whilst holidaying with them (I’m from Australia) while I was playing my game, “do you know the name of a particular US politician Mario somebody?” He answered immediately and then said “that’s him” and pointed to the TV within a second of answering
Total votes: 183
Date submitted:Wed, 22 Apr 2020 21:16:16 +0000Coincidence ID:10436

Because my grandma lived in Arkansas! Yeah, right /s

I'm a Californian. Arkansas, a place so foreign to most of us Californians, had never entered my mind until a free e-book about a young woman in Southern Arkansas landed in my iBooks library a few years back. I read lots of books so I decided what the heck, it's free, I'll read this one too. Although I didn't love the book, somehow I felt compelled to buy the other books in the series and read on. After several books, I became enraptured like no other book series in my life. I couldn't figure out why. I kept joking to my family that I was obsessed with the series because our grandma had lived in Arkansas even though we all knew she was a New Yorker, and they doubted she'd even visited there, let alone lived there. Fast forward a year, I delved into my family's genealogy on ancestry.com, and upon researching my grandmother (who had passed away in 1980), I found that in 1945 she had filed an application for a social security number (SSN) under an alias maiden name. The image of the actual application wasn't online, but the SSN and family members (whose names were correct) were in indexed. I googled the number, and was shocked to find out the first three digits indicated the SSN application was filed in Arkansas. She had also filed for another SSN in New York, so I thought the Arkansas filing had to be a mistake. A few months went by and I couldn't resist applying for a copy of the social security application through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Several months later, a copy of her application arrived in the mail. And her name, signature, where she stayed in Arkansas, and where she worked in Arkansas, were all right there in the application. My grandma had indeed lived in Arkansas. Why I would delve into a book series about Arkansas and divine a justification for my obsession by conjuring a fake story that my grandmother lived in Arkansas, when in fact, unbeknownst to anyone in the family, she did, seems like a weird coincidence to me.
Total votes: 191
Date submitted:Tue, 21 Apr 2020 23:18:38 +0000Coincidence ID:10434

Same Book, Same time

I was in my bathroom and saw a book on the back of my toilet. I had read the book before, and I enjoyed it so I thought I should read it again sometime. I then started running other books through my head that I’ve read that I would possibly want to read again. “Ooo, The Shack! That was a good one, I should read that again.” Then for some reason I thought “I wonder if Haley (a friend of mine) has read it? I think she’d like it. So I texted her and asked if she’d read the shack? She replies almost instantly in as much shock as I was. She was reading the book when I asked her this!! How?? I could have thought of that book at any point, and asked her that question at any point since we’ve know each other (4 years or so) and I happen to ask in the exact moment she is reading the book.
Total votes: 200
Date submitted:Tue, 21 Apr 2020 03:50:28 +0000Coincidence ID:10433

Now Voyager

Now Finale' to The Shore Now Life and Love, Finale' and Farewell Now, Voyager, Depart After listening to a moving choral setting of these new-to-me Whitman lines, by Thomas Ades, I went to the Peabody Institute Library in Danvers to return some books. The first book I saw, on a New Books rack, was a biography of Bette Davis, which had material on her 1942 film Now Voyager, although it turned out that the phrase was from another Whitman line: Now voyager, sail thou forth to seek and find. This was already a same-day coincidence, but the book mentioned that the novel was written by Olive Higgins Prouty, a name unknown to me, and mentioned that she had also written Stella Dallas. Donna and I had watched the 1937 film of that a few nights before. I took out Prouty's autobiography right then and there. Wikipedia has a biographical note.
Total votes: 198
Date submitted:Tue, 21 Apr 2020 01:48:40 +0000Coincidence ID:10432

On the Eve of Thanksgiving

One Wednesday night Donna was baking pies for the next day's Thanksgiving crowd of ten, and the heating-element of the oven disintegrated. In desperation I called Douglass Appliance in Danvers, where I bought parts for household items, on the slight chance that they were still open. Miraculously, someone answered. The shop had been closed for hours, but the owner had returned for just a minute to pick up some papers.
Total votes: 212
Date submitted:Wed, 15 Apr 2020 19:36:48 +0000Coincidence ID:10429

Were we meant to be ?

I met my future husband through local politics in London - he was a Councillor and I was a wannabe MP but for different parties. We kept meeting at hustings events and eventually went out for a drink. Anyway, various life things kept getting in the way and we didn't meet again. My day job was working for a corporate firm and we had a few suppliers to help with different things. A few weeks after I had met politucs bloke for a drink I got told by my boss that we were getting a new contract with a different supplier for something and told me the name of the account manager. I thought it was a strange coincidence that he had the same name of the bloke I went on a date with. Turns out it was the same bloke. Cue a few awkward work meetings and he asked me back out for a drink. We got on and started dating. Once it got a bit serious and we met each others families It transpired that his dad and my dad knew each other and had worked together - first meeting 43 years ago and before either of us had been born. Hubby's dad had also been a work associate of my Godfathers and the two were reunited after 25 years at our wedding.
Total votes: 186
Date submitted:Sun, 12 Apr 2020 10:47:24 +0000Coincidence ID:10428

Small world

My sisters live 120 miles apart. Sister 1 went on holiday a few years back and discovered the travel rep lived literally round the corner from sister 2. Coincidence enough, but fast forward to 2020 and sister 2 is currently self isolating due to Covid 19. As she is reliant on grocery deliveries, she called a local voluntary group. The lady who came to help said she was among the first to lose her job and will be the last to return as she works in the travel industry - yes it was the same lady sister 1 had met
Total votes: 202
Date submitted:Sun, 12 Apr 2020 10:08:54 +0000Coincidence ID:10427

Three coincidences

I'm not sure whether I can have three but the first one's very short. My brother, four of my cousins (from different branches of the family) and my late aunt have birthdays on 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th of October = different years, obviously! The second coincidence is this. I had a peripatetic life with a father in the armed forces so I attended a lot of schools. I joined the WRAF myself and served as a teleprinter operator. I married an airman in 1972. More moving. In March 1974 he was posted to Cyprus. One day, a month or so after our arrival, I was standing in a queue in the NAAFI store in Limassol when the woman in front of me happened to see me and did a visible double take. She turned out to be someone I'd worked with when I was a teleprinter operator in the UK 2 years previously. I regularly have people recognising me but I never reciprocate because I suffer from a mild form of prosopagnosia. I can't recognise people unless I know them really well and meet them regularly - sometimes even not then - and that is very embarrassing indeed at times! The third is that I finally managed to go to university in 1990 when I was 40 (when my marriage was breaking up). I read Linguistics at Loughborough. I joined the Christian Union there (more for something to do than any conviction) and attended the local Anglican church because I'd always loved singing and had been in a lot of church choirs (the only outlet for someone who kept moving around all the time - there was always a church with a choir somewhere nearby, wherever we were). The University Registrar came to CU meetings fairly regularly and always talked to me. Apart from the fact that he was married, because sometimes his wife came as well, I didn't know much about his personal life. When I graduated and left Loughborough I decided to move to Winchester because my mother's family had come from Hampshire and Winchester was the nearest I could get to the area where they'd lived. In Loughborough I'd shared a house with a couple of other mature students and we'd had to move to a village outside the town when our landlord decided to sell it. I can't drive and I couldn't get to the Anglican church any more but there was a small Baptist chapel just down the road so I went there. When I came to Winchester I decided to continue as a Baptist so I joined the Baptist church. After a few weeks I made friends with an elderly lady during after-service coffee and got chatting to her. It turned out that she was the mother of Loughborough University's Registrar!
Total votes: 196
Date submitted:Sat, 11 Apr 2020 16:38:29 +0000Coincidence ID:10426

Spear carrier

I spoke today to an old teacher of mine, Ron, now in his late 70s. He said he came to the school in 1969. One of the older colleagues who taught games had arrived in the 50s and in idle staffroom chat mentioned that he had once been supervising athletics when a boy caught a javelin in his leg. He had to transport him to hospital with the javelin sticking out of the car window. In the late nineties Ron was on a train and fell into conversation with an older man who, it transpired had been a pupil at the same school 40 years earlier. Ron asked whether there was any truth in the javelin tale. The answer he received was: "I threw it."
Total votes: 198
Date submitted:Mon, 06 Apr 2020 15:49:54 +0000Coincidence ID:10425

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