Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Meeting at the Cape

I worked for the South Wales Electricity Board (SWEB)for 20 years. During that time I worked in the Neath District from 1962 to 1964. One of the gentlemen I worked with was a Mr Ron Jay. After leaving SWEB in 1974 I worked in the South Africa gold mines for 3 years. In 1977 I made plans to return, with my family, to the UK via Cape Town on the last voyage of the Windsor Castle mail ship. On the second morning at our hotel we came down to breakfast and whilst we were eating my wife noticed that a gentleman, also with his family, was taking a great deal of interest in me. It was, of course, Ron Jay. I don't know if Ron is still with us as I have tried to locate him, via the internet, with no success. So what are the chances of us being in the same spot on the globe, at the same time, in the same hotel (out of hundreds)?
Total votes: 351
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:00:25 +0000Coincidence ID:3599

John Logie Baird

Two years ago in September we 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: 357
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:00:24 +0000Coincidence ID:3598

Neighbours crashing into the same car

A friend of mine was visiting me with her car parked outside my house (this was in my parental home in Inverness about 1988), and another visitor, who was visiting my parents, didn't spot her car when leaving and reversed into it to completely denting one of the drivers door. Then, the next day (there's a chance it was a few days later, hazy on this detail) the same friend in the same dented car was in a car park in a completely different part of town, and someone reversed out of a space and dented her passenger door in almost an identical way. So she now had a matching pair of dents. That's not even the coincidence though.. It turned out that the 2 people who had, on separately occasions, dented a door each of her car, are in fact next door neighbours. That's it.
Total votes: 313
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:00:24 +0000Coincidence ID:3597

Multiple coincidences in one family.

My younger sister was born on my mother's birthday. My daughter was born on my father's birthday. My daughter's first child was born on my son's birthday and a few years later my daughter's friend's child was born on that same date. I was married on my niece's birthday and years later my mother died on that date. More recently, I sat in an Italian conversation class and said at some point, "I was born and brought up in Southport". Whereupon my neighbour in the class said that she was too and we discovered that we had grown up in houses about 15 minutes apart and had both been to the same secondary school, although she was a few years behind me. We then entertained the class by remembering, and singing, the silly song about a squirrel we used to have to sing in the Spanish class.
Total votes: 308
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:00:23 +0000Coincidence ID:3596

Banana pratfall

Around about 20 years ago my brother-in-law (Ken), his wife (Ann), my wife (Ann) and myself (Tony) were walking the quarter of a mile from his house to the pub. He lives in the country outside the village of Pluckley in Kent and that evening there was no moon and it was pitch dark. It was so dark with trees on either side that we had trouble seeing where we were on the road. Ken, my brother-in-law and I were walking side by side having a discussion about comic scenes we had enjoyed on TV and films and what made them funny. I was just getting into trying for a generalization as to why we find things funny and why humour is unique to human beings. I was using the example of the posh gent in the silent movie who unexpectedly falls over on his backside as the result of stepping on a banana skin and suffers a catastrophic loss of dignity when I slipped on something and fell in exactly that manner, quite literally at the moment of describing the banana pratfall. I was shaken but unhurt apart from a slightly bruised backside. However I wanted to know what I had slipped on so we looked carefully at the road (remember it was incredibly dark) and found- a banana skin. Which, presumably someone had thrown out of a car window. I have often re-told this story and wondered at the odds of this happening. I suppose I need to add that their road, at that time, only had a couple of houses and a farm on it and was very little used and in all the years we have walked on it (Ken has lived there over thirty years) I cannot remember seeing anything laying on the road apart from tree branches. Just as an aside; I have since seen the Woody Allen film (I forget the title) in which he drives his VW through the streets of New York philosophising at length on comedy and the human predicament only to step out of his car into a hole in the road. I had a moment of complete empathy remembering my banana skin episode.
Total votes: 274
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:00:10 +0000Coincidence ID:3595

maria m

I have just been on holiday with my husband and 5 other people who did not know each other. 1 couple and 3 singles. The birthdays of the group were 21st Dec my husband, mine 2nd jan, single person 4th jan, single person 5th Jan, single person 5th Jan and one of the other couple 15th Jan. I often find these grouping in teams at work and with neighbours. My ex neighours have virtually the same birthdays as my husband and myself. male and female matches. Also an ex neighbour in the same road has an identical birth date. Interestingly her husband had worked at the same places as me before I met her and the door codes at the building were easy to remember as they were my birthday and his wife's dates as they are the same. I have moved a lot and am always making connections. I am a joke at work as I always manage to find a concidence. I f a lebanese background and relatives all over the world and meet relatives and their friends in unusual places.
Total votes: 447
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 08:59:06 +0000Coincidence ID:3594


When on holiday in the island of Minorca I bumped into a co-employee of the same large company. We had only minimal work contact and he worked in Bedfordshire and I worked in London. We had no forknowledge of each other's holiday arrangements. Coincidence 1: We booked the same week. He stayed in the north of the island. I stayed in the south. Coincidence 2: On the Thursday morning of that week we both decided to drive to a large town on the east of the island. Coincidence 3: On walking back to the car at the end of my visit I passed through a small plaza. I heard someone call out my name. My colleague had decided to buy a coffee and was sitting drinking it before walking back to his car. If he hadn't done that we would never have met or ever known of each other's presence on the island.
Total votes: 471
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 08:58:49 +0000Coincidence ID:3593

Ex-colleague meeting

After a weekend visit I was flying back from London Heathrow to Glasgow and the last two empty seats before take-off were in my row of three. They were taken at the last minute by an ex-colleague who is Japanese and his teenage son. I worked closely with this person doing medical research at Glasgow University around 15 years previously and his son had been born in Glasgow. He was bringing his son for a holiday touring Scotland but I didn't know this until they sat down beside me on the flight connecting them from Tokyo through LHR to Glasgow.
Total votes: 421
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 08:58:39 +0000Coincidence ID:3592

The West Indies coincidence

It is my husband's coincidence, not mine. My husband was stationed in the West Indies when in the airforce in the 1960s. He was billeted in a hotel owned by a family with several children, the youngest of whom was about 9. After leaving the airforce in the early 70s he went to teacher training college as a mature student where he met me and another student who was to become his best friend. Some years later, when arranging a visit to come to stay with us the aforesaid best friend said he was bringing his new girlfriend (later to be his wife). When they arrived he introduced us to the girlfriend (guessing the situation) and after some discussion my husband realised that they had in fact met many years before. Yes.... she was the youngest daughter of the family with whom he had lived when stationed in the West Indies.
Total votes: 465
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 08:58:29 +0000Coincidence ID:3591

Was this God sent?

Ten years ago at the age of fifty I decided to become confirmed in the Christian faith. I didn't have a bible so went to buy one. Whilst on the way to town my husband and I passed a bric a brac shop we'd never been in before and decided to have a look in. Whilst in there I spotted a really nice bible in good condition so thought I'd buy it. When I went to enquire about the price the man said he couldn't sell it to me, I was disappointed but that was that. However, just as I was about to leave the shop he called after me, 'I can't sell it to you because it's a Gideon Bible and I'm not allowed to sell it but you can have it for nothing.' What we are calling coincidence here I've always thought as a little gift from God and the thought has always thrilled me to bits.
Total votes: 478
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 08:58:16 +0000Coincidence ID:3590