Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Sibling birthdays

Dear Professor Spiegelhalter, No doubt you are receiving a flood of mails as a result of this morning's Radio 4 broadcast. My mother had two brothers and a sister (Eddie, Gordon and Margaret Sterry), all born on the same date a few years apart on, I believe, March 19th. I always remember her saying each year that she only had to remember one birthday - and she was the exception, born on January 31. All four siblings are now dead, but if you are interested I can certainly get exact birth dates from my cousins (unless they have already contacted you!) I believe you said there were only 8 such cases in the country - well here's another, With best wishes, Gillian Lathey
Total votes: 300
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:35:37 +0000Coincidence ID:3700

connection with a stranger

I'd decided to join an Alpha course ( to explore Christianity ), and went alone to the church hall at Beverley Minster - totally unfamiliar to me. I was late and apprehensive at the prospect of joining complete strangers for a meal, which is how the course starts. The smallish room crowded with people sitting at tables with no familiar face and no vacant seat in sight! An organiser made space for me at a nearby table where the people seated seemed to know each other. It was difficult not to want to run away. During pleasantries, a man to my left asked had I lived in East Yorks all my life and I explained we had moved around, having lived in Manchester. Wakefield, Bradford and latterly Halifax area before Scarborough and then East Yorks. He said he'd an Aunt in Halifax and struggled to remember the name of the district though described the 'moor', a large area of grass called Saville Park. Belle Hall was the street his Aunt lived in. I knew it well. He went on to say his Aunt used to have carers in to look after her mother. I knew both the Aunt and her mother very well. I was one of the people that used to go in and care for her. A few months later, my youngest daughter and I went for a pub lunch at a village - not a usual haunt at all being 10 miles away. There, totally unexpextedly, I bumped into the Aunt - after 15 years!
Total votes: 421
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:34:24 +0000Coincidence ID:3699

Mr g abrahams

Before the time of mobile phones I was in a phone box to phone a friend. There was a break through on the line and I heard two of the directors of the company I worked for discussing financial problems. Ilest the company and shortly afterwards it broke up
Total votes: 379
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:33:41 +0000Coincidence ID:3698

old acquaintance

I was born in Derry, NI and had lost contact with an old school friend. I read an article about her brother in our university graduate magazine which included his email address. At the time he was a prof in Astrophysics in Georgia Tech. I emailed him asking him for his sister's address. He picked up my email while he was on sabbatical in Harvard. We hadn't met for 35 years. The following day he went into the library and the librarian picked up his accent, asked if he was from Derry and if he knew my family? Nuala Rosher
Total votes: 349
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:33:29 +0000Coincidence ID:3697

Plane Crash in 1943

In 1943 a Messerschmitt was shot down over Woking,It fell in the garden of a house called "Little Ingestree",near Mytchett.In the garden was a circle of Yew trees with a mature Lime in the middle.The plane sliced right through the Lime,and there was considerable fire.Considering that Yew has been associated with death for hundreds of years,I think that this was remarkable.The crew are buried in Brookwood cemetary.Afterwards,a blacksmith made a brace and bolted the two parts of the tree together. It is worth mentioning that Rudolph Hess was held in a house about 100 yards from the crash site.
Total votes: 449
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:33:06 +0000Coincidence ID:3696

How close can you get

My wife and i went on a nile cruise. Standing in the queue to go through customs, we found we were behind a close friend and his wife. They were also going on a nile cruise. It later transpired thar not only were we on the same boat but that their cabin was immediately above ours and we could talk to each other from our balconies.
Total votes: 373
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:32:30 +0000Coincidence ID:3695

Birthday dates

Many of our family have been born on the same dates as the Royal Family. My sister was the first one to be known. She was born in Hull on the 14th. of November, 1948, the same day as Prince Charles. She was sent a silver-plated teaspoon as a gift. The spoon was known in our family as "the Charlie spoon".
Total votes: 373
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:32:24 +0000Coincidence ID:3694

Mrs Valerie Shaw

Births My step daughter was born on the same date as my grandfather 100 years later and her daughter was born on the same date as my mother 100 years later. I have always thought that remarkable especially as we are not blood related. Telepathy My youngest daughter and I often contact each other just as one of us was thinking of the other. This can be email, text or phone call and it has been like this for years. It happened when we lived close and still continues now that she lives in Australia.
Total votes: 376
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:30:38 +0000Coincidence ID:3693

BBC NEWS COINCIDENCE, MUSICAL COINCIDENCE

Dear Professor Spiegelhalter, Sixteen years ago I woke up in my Paris apartment one Sunday morning and immediately thought of Leslie Crowther. Why Leslie Crowther? A figure I had never thought about since last seeing him in revue in Edinburgh 40 years earlier. At one o'clock London time I tuned into the BBC whose newsreader altered her tone appropriately at the end of the bulletin to announce that "the comedian Leslie Crowther died early this morning." I wondered whether I'd left my radio on overnight. I had not, and in any case the Press Association was not likely to have received and published the news until later in the course of the morning, after I awoke. Not long after, I spent several days suffering from that insufferable condition in which one cannot remember a tune. I had heard it in a movie about the German close harmony group, the Comedian Harmonists. The song: "Das ist die Liebe der Matrosen." Then one Sunday morning (again) I awoke early and there it was! "Das ist die Liebe der Matrosen." I sang it under the shower, sang it over breakfast, sang it on my way through the nearby Luxembourg Garden to a news stand to buy my Observer. Then I doubled back through the Luxembourg Garden to meet a friend for lunch, and entered a street called the rue Fleurus. There I witnessed something which I had never seen before, and have never seen since. Someone standing in the street grinding a barrel organ. A young woman. You have one guess which tune was grinding out of her barrel organ. I pondered whether she had maybe been busy at it at six o'clock in the morning, and that I had heard it in the distance through half-sleep. But no. Not a way to turn a buck at six a.m. on a Paris Sunday morning. I can't make much out of Jung's theory of synchronicity. Instead, I prefer to believe that coincidence is like what the poet said about beauty, that it is in the mind of the beholder. Our human minds are surely conditioned or programmed to start drawing strange conclusions from effect to cause about perceived weird phenomena such as coincidences. Animals in the forest do not cry "Good heavens!" when they suddenly stumble on old chums after a long absence. Surely coincidence is just that -- chance. I also found it of significance that I had started noticing strange coincidences so soon after I had retired and retreated to the relaxed pleasures of life in Paris. Perhaps coincidences are actually much more frequent than generally perceived, and working people simply don't notice them because they're busy, sometimes harassed, suffering from tension and anxiety etc, all conditions likely to undermine the state in which one can be more observant about the quirky little detail of the daily round. Still. My two stories make great tales, and I've dined off 'em more than once. Now I send them to you after just hearing you on Radio Four. Hope they might amuse you. Sincerely Donald A
Total votes: 351
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:29:26 +0000Coincidence ID:3692

Dr Brian Wood

Two coincidences with a point 1. I was a squaddie in the army in Cyprus during the Suez crisis (just to put a time frame). The others in the tent knew I was a biologist, and brought me in a chameleon they had found. We kept this as a pet and admired its fly catching technique. Later, I was employed as entomologist on a citrus plantation there, and was interested to develop the natural biological control of the pests, rather than spraying vast amounts of insecticide. A famous "mentor" from University of California came to see what we were doing. I also mentioned the chameleon, which I had never since found one. He said he would like one (he had a licence to import "predators" into USA). Walking through a field with some others, we were trying to explain what they were. "Well, they are like this" said Paul, and picked one off of the tree we were passing. I never saw another in the wild. 2. In Malaysia I ran with an unserious running group called the Hash House Harriers (now world wide) . My first such pack was in a rather rural area around a small town called Kluang. Some runners were from a nearby British Ghurka army camp and some were in the Planting industry (like me). When the army left the Far East, we Plantation men carried on and occasionally complained that the record books seemed to have disappeared (time late 1960s). After coming back to live in Devon, UK, I had occasion to visit a village about 20 miles away to discuss a property business matter with a colonel, at his house there (about 1999, this was). After our discussion, he showed us some rooms and I said I see from ornaments here that you must have been in the Far East. He agreed, and said of course most was in Hong Kong, but some was in a place I'm sure you have never heard of called Kluang. He went on to say that as well as the army there, a main interest had been something which surely I had never heard of, called the Hash House Harriers. It turned out he had been the secretary in the years when I had been running. With the passage of time, we did not recognise each other (and had not been colonel then). Not only that, but he said he had assumed that as the army left, the whole thing would fold up, and he had kept the books. Since I still had some Far East contacts, he gave them to me, and eventually I got them back to the present organisers of the Kluang Hash, which still flourishes.
Total votes: 368
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:29:19 +0000Coincidence ID:3691

Pages