Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Radio and CD Player in sync

Last week I was driving along listening to Classic FM radio and a couple of minutes into one piece of music (it was Borodin), I decided it didn't match my mood so I switched to my 6 disc cd player in which I have kept the same fairly diverse discs for months if not years. To my complete bafflement, it seemed I had failed somehow to switch, so I switched back to the radio - and then I realised that my CD player had picked up on exactly the same track, and merely a "cat's whisker" behind! At a guess there are an average of 15 tracks on each cd - so I spent the rest of the journey pondering on the probability of that ever happening again in my lifetime (I am 65 and drive extensively, ergo listen to the radio/cds). Incidently, a friend suggested that my boredom threshold must also reach the same point on the same track each time! This has been on my mind ever since - so is it a coincidence that coincidences came up on Radio 4 so soon afterwards?!!
Total votes: 326
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:51:07 +0000Coincidence ID:3744

Chance Encounter

I live in Australia. For five-and-a-half years I was in the worst relationship of my life with a person I would later learn, from various sources including specialists, was a borderline/narcissistic personality. By the end of it my sense of self had been almost completely destroyed, I had no confidence, everything had become a kind of relativistic miasma, my self-esteem was shot, I couldn't think about the future and barely had the energy to get through the day. I was at the end of my rope, not just because of the usual pains of a bad breakup, but because I had been leveled by degrees, by stealth, over the course of half a decade. The thing is, I didn't really understand that at the time. So the short story is this: a string of coincidences led me on a four-month international jag. I spent a little time in London. I met a friend at a pub, on a whim. We were drinking. I look up. And my ex's ex walks in the door. Now two things are important: 1). Over the course of my relationship this guy was held up to be a total demon, a black-hearted monster of the first order, and 2). we kinda knew each other before that relationship started. So when we made eye contact there was a moment in which to make a decision, and we both decided to go "Hey!" We talked for about six hours. Only in the last twenty minutes did we discuss our mutual ex. He asked what happened. Sensing a chance to gain some perspective, I asked what happened between he and her. Everything he said was blow for blow what had happened to me. As it turns out, it had happened to the guy before him as well, and the one before that. He knew that, because this was the second or third time he'd had this conversation. As he laid out both his experience and the experience of others I felt about half a tonne lift and a good part of my old self return. If that hadn't happened, I'm not kidding, it would have taken me years to regain any kind of equilibrium, perspective, understanding or peace. It went a long way to saving me.
Total votes: 403
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:50:35 +0000Coincidence ID:3743

Australian visit

Our son, who lives in the UK, decided to attend the Rugby World Cup competition in Sydney. He contacted his Godmother, who lives in Sydney, simply to say he would contact her at some stage during his visit. He sat down at one of the matches to discover that his Godmother was in the seat directly behind him.
Total votes: 301
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:50:29 +0000Coincidence ID:3742

How strange!

I have lived in various parts of the country over a forty year period and moved to my present address in Dorset 5 years ago. I signed on with a new doctor and on talking to the nurse at the 'introductory' medical found we had been born in exactly the same part of town in Portsmouth and later moved to exactly the same part of town at the north end of the island and attended the same school only fifteen years apart.
Total votes: 337
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:50:18 +0000Coincidence ID:3741

Of all the basilicas on all the mountains in all the world...

In October 2010 Bradford Cathedral Choir undertook a short tour of Catalonia, singing in and around Barcelona. My son and I have been singing in this choir for a few years and went on the tour. One of the events on the tour was to be a 15minute slot singing in the Basilica at Montserrat, where visiting choirs are permitted to do a short session at lunchtime on Mondays. We duly arrived at the top of the mountain and were waiting outside the Basilica to put our robes on and warm up our voices. Our choir director had been inside and came out to say we would be going on after "some choir from Nottingham, I've never heard of them". At hearing this, I got a funny feeling and thought "I need to see this choir" as I used to live and sing in Nottingham for several years before moving to Yorkshire. I went in and sat quietly to one side of the church and listened to my old friends the Sinfonia Chorale, of whom I was a member for 10 years previously! None of them spotted me whilst I was listening to them, but when we then went on to sing they were unable to leave the building and had to sit in a side chapel near where we were singing - and gradually I saw the light (and incredulity) dawning on several familiar faces as I sang! It was wonderful to see them and we had further random meetings throughout the day as we all walked up and down the mountain paths. It turned out we were all singing in the same churches in the region, following each other around! A further musical connection came to light when I got a Christmas card this year from some friends who were really friends of my parents before they died. This couple had been to a music festival in the southeast of England as they are patrons of it, and whilst there met my father's youngest brother and his wife - they must have spotted him as he bears a very strong resemblance to my father as he gets older - who turn out also to be patrons of the same festival. They had never met previously despite family connections going back over 50 years.
Total votes: 287
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:49:33 +0000Coincidence ID:3740

Mr Michael D

I was born and grew up in a small town in Oxfordshire in 1970. I moved to London and became a doctor and one of my good friends from home moved to London and became a lawyer. He became a partner in a London law firm in 2008. In 2010 I became a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon in Hastings in East Sussex. The secretary I was given had lived in Hastings for many years but this was her first secretarial job. One day I was talking to my friend on the phone and my secretary asked what he did. I told her and it turned out her sister worked for the same firm as she was a legal secretary in London. A few phone calls later revealed my secretary's sister was my friends secretary!
Total votes: 364
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:49:23 +0000Coincidence ID:3739

Flight neighbour

It was about 1995; I was about 55 at the time. I was on a family-related trip to Aus (NSW), decided to go up to Queensland (Airlie Beach) for some SCUBA on the Barrier Reef. Signed on to a 3-day boat trip, with about 10 others, all of them total strangers in their 20s or so, origins from all over the world. Amongst them was Roger from (I think) Amsterdam who turned out to be a real Pain in the A**. About 2 weeks later, time to return to UK, flight from Sydney to Bangkok for a 2-day lay-over, back to Bangkok airport for the BA Jumbo flight to London, boarded, sat down, next seat-but-one to my left is Roger! (To be fair, I had spotted [and avoided!] him earlier, waiting in the airport lounge, so the coincidence maybe isn't that huge?)
Total votes: 349
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:48:54 +0000Coincidence ID:3738

a musical coincidence

In the spring of 1985 I was at an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of Handel. The exhibition contained several portraits and a number of music scores. Not unnaturally there was some background music going on as one walked round it. At the time I was visiting, the music was the composer's Music for the Royal Fireworks. And on a music stand was the original manuscript of... the Musc for the Royal Fireworks. As I approached the exhibit I noticed it was open at the movement called La Rejouissance. And the music playing was... La Rejouissance. So I was able to follow the original manuscript with my eyes and the music on 'original instruments with my ears at the same time. What were the chances of that happening?
Total votes: 314
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:48:33 +0000Coincidence ID:3737

Repeating words.

My wife and I are continually surprised when talking , how many times odd words are repeated instantly by the radio or television.
Total votes: 361
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:48:27 +0000Coincidence ID:3736

Lady Crossing the road

I stopped to let an elderly lady cross the zebra crossing. My heart missed a beat as the car on the other side did not look as it was going to stop. The lady was so busy waiving to me that she did not notice this. For a split second I thought she would be hit but the other car did stop, leaving us both very shocked. A few weeks later I was about to cross on a zebra crossing in a nearby town - I observed to the elderly lady standing next to me that I prefer to wait until both sets of cars have stopped before I cross and I briefly alluded to the above incident - That lady was me she said - and as we compared notes it was clearly her!
Total votes: 357
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:47:45 +0000Coincidence ID:3735