Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Old Friend

My name is Beryl. I attended Holly Lodge High School in Liverpool. Whilst in sixth form I had 2 close friends, Shelagh and Pat. We left school in 1956. We three attended different Universities and lost touch for many years. We were all aware that we had married but because we were no longer close we neither attended weddings nor knew the nanes or professions of the three husbands. During the academic year 1986-87 I studied for a Master's Degree in Manchester University. One of my tutors was Professor Tom Christie. A man for whom I had great admiration. Following an inspiring lecture one morning I was discussing the content with a friend, at that time she was a lecturer in the Shcool of Education, and the conversation turned from the professional to the personal. This lecturer mentioned the nickname of Professor Christie's wife, Boz, in respect of something totally unconnected with the matter in hand. I did not immediately invest this name with any importance. However, much later in the conversation, I asked (apropos of nothing) the lecturer if she was aware of the proper name of Boz. I was prompted by absolutely nothing to ask this question, nor was it important that I should know this person's name. Therefore when my friend informed me that the Professor's wife bore the name "Pat" I confounded both myself and my friend by ststing with some force that this Boz-Pat was one of my best friends from school. I remember that both of us were white faced, trembling and not a little scared! Several days later I was invited to a small party in the University to be given by Professor Christie. This was a surprise to say the least. The party was in full swing when Professor Christie approached me and asked me to look towards the entrance. When I looked at the doorway I noticed several persons amongst whom was a junoesque woman who was clearly appraising me. As she made her way directly towards me I felt no connection. When she greeted me by my maiden name I was taken aback as this was not a name by which I was known in University circles and it was only when I looked directly at her that I recognised the eyes as those of my long ago friend from the sixth form, Pat! She was indeed the Professor's wife. It appeared that the party had been secretly arranged by the Professor to test the assertation I had made weeks earlier. His wife had immediately recognised me from the doorway, for apparently I had altered very little during the thirty years intervening years, and she had approached me in the belief that this meeting was a coincidence. It was of course no coincidence but I believe that my curious connective leap was indeed a coincidence.
Total votes: 329
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:21:02 +0000Coincidence ID:3671

Coincidence Squared?

For the past week I have (for the first time in my life) been researching psychopaths on the internet. I am doing this because of a piece of writing I want to do and have never done research of this type before. This morning I heard an article on Radio 4's Today programme about the analysis of coincidence and less than five minutes later there was a trailer for the programme "Saturday Live" on which Jon Ronson, the author of "The Psychopath Test" was to be interviewed. </p> <p>Coincidence squared?
Total votes: 343
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:20:46 +0000Coincidence ID:3670

ex-colleagues, same event

While working at our local theatre costume hire last Sunday, I encountered an ex colleague whom I hadn't seen for many years. She was hiring a 1940s costume for a 'Secret Cinema' event in London the following weekend. While she was looking for her costume, a second woman came in to hire a similar costume for the same event. She turned out to be another colleague from the same workplace. None of us had been in touch since we left about 15 years ago.
Total votes: 308
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:20:17 +0000Coincidence ID:3669

mauriceG

I have a neighbour who shares my birth date (not a big coincidence), BUT we have discovered that we were both born, (22 years apart) on Easter Sunday 21st April, 1935 and 1957. There were only four or five Easter Sundays on 21st April in the last century.
Total votes: 393
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:19:03 +0000Coincidence ID:3668

Same people

We were in Dartmouth, Devon walking through the town which is having major road closures. The road from the lower ferry was particularly affected with a road which is normally one-way now open to traffic both ways. A gentleman with a huge caravan had come off the ferry and his sat-nav failed to tell him that the one-way road was now two-way. After he had gone round the block twice ! my husband stopped him and explained that he needed to switch off his sat nav and turn left instead of right. Approx two weeks later we pitched up at a campsite in Devon and went for a walk. When we returned we had new neighbours - the same people with the huge caravan who we had helped in Dartmouth.
Total votes: 391
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:18:36 +0000Coincidence ID:3667

Funeral music

After my father died I stayed with my mother and we planned the funeral etc. One piece of music we chose was Geoffrey Burgon's Nunc Dimitis, famous from the television series "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" which my father had enjoyed. It is a very emotional piece and my mother and I discussed the effect this would have on us during the funeral. I suggested that we listen to it repeatedly before the funeral to get used to it but before doing so it was time for bed. Between the time of my father's death and his funeral I wasn't sleeping well so kept the radio on all night. I went to sleep but woke up in the middle of the night to hear the end of one programme on the World Service and the introduction of the next: "Meet The Composer" with Geoffrey Burgon. I listened to the programme which included Burgon talking about his own father's death and played his Nunc Dimitis. I then went back to sleep. At breakfast the following morning I told my mother about what I assumed had been a dream. She checked in the paper and the programme had indeed been on the radio in the early hours of that morning. I could understand waking up if while sleeping I had heard the introduction of the programme and the name "Burgon" but I clearly remember waking up before the previous programme had finished. This occurred sometime in the week commencing 10th September 1984.
Total votes: 339
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:18:30 +0000Coincidence ID:3666

People and Places

When my husband and I were staying in John O'Groats Youth Hostel a couple of years back we were cooking a meal in the kitchen when we got talking to a fellow hosteller. We got around to asking where we lived, she came from around Doncaster and we said we came from near Birmingham. She replied she'd only been in the Midlands once to visit a friend who had moved down there. We don't actually live in Birmingham but about eight miles away in a small village on the outskirts of Walsall but as nobody has ever heard of Walsall saying Birmingham makes it easier. When we narrowed down where she had visited it was actually a street about 300 yards from our house and we even knew the people she stayed with!
Total votes: 369
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:18:21 +0000Coincidence ID:3665

Dreaming of Diana

The night that Princess Diana died, I woke up having had an extraordinary and very memorable dream about Diana, who I didn’t think about much at all, and had certainly never dreamt about her before. I couldn’t go back to sleep and turned the radio on. About half an hour later the news came on that there had been an accident. It seems I was not alone, there is a book called ‘Dreaming of Diana’ that includes other people’s similar experience.
Total votes: 395
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:18:10 +0000Coincidence ID:3664

Strange Meetings. Triple coinsidence

1976. I shall try to make this long sequence as short as possible. Names of most people have been long forgotten. Macclesfield, England. I decided to take a week's holiday and hitch to St Tropes. Hitched to M1 M1 Watford Gap Service Station. Holding a sign with 'DOVER' written, a white van stopped. I discovered he and his girlfriend were going to Antibes where he was doing repair work on his boss's boat. This carpenter lived about 5 miles from my home in Stockport. 24 hrs after leaving Macclesfield - in Antibes. Antibes. Sitting on the beach I start talking to an English architect, with his American girlfriend. He was working on a new school in Cannes. They invite me to the boat they are living on for some dinner. I mention that I am interested in sub-aqua diving and it transpired he had belonged to the same club in Stockport that I was going to. He nearly fell off his chair when I said I was sharing a house with Fred, a member of that club when he was a member. Thursday. Thinking about hitching back home. I was wearing a distinctive tee-shirt of the Stockport climbing club that I belonged to. While having a glass of wine in a bar, I noticed a small bearded guy nearby looking at me. As I was leaving, he called me over to his table. He had been a member of that climbing club a few years before I joined it and he also knew several of my friends there. He was in Antibes looking after a small fleet of hire yachts and also a qualified skipper. The last coincidence was that he was planning to drive back to his home in Manchester two days later at the weekend. On Saturday, he dropped me by my car which I had left near Macclesfield. I still cant believe this all happened in one week but life is, for sure, stranger that fiction. I have one or two other experiences like this but this is probably the most unlikely one. Derek Emson. Czech Republic
Total votes: 312
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:18:02 +0000Coincidence ID:3663

Musical connection

As part of my research into hymn writers in the Isle of Man, I was given access to an ms collection which had been made by the late Cecil McFee. His daughter, Kath Looney, gave me permission to use the hymns in a publication I was preparing. Among the papers was a sheet on which he had written from memory a song that had been sung to him by his father, who had emigrated briefly to Canada in the early 1900s. The song was a Canadian slave song. In 1998, I took a copy of the song with me to a conference in Prince Edward Island, intending to show it to someone in the Music Department of the University. However, on the first day of the conference, I met a couple who had emigrated from the English Midlands several decades before, and were now living in Britich Columbia. Learning that they were members of a folk group, I showed them the song. It was one they didn't recognise so were delighted to have a new song to add to their repertoire. However, Andrea was startled to see the name of Cecil McFee as, in her childhood, her family had holidayed in the Isle of Man, had stayed in a house near the McFees, whom they knew well, and had been babysat by his daughter, Kath. I still find this one of the most remarkable coincidences of my life, and still get goosebumps when I think about it! Dr Fenella Bazin Honorary Research Fellow Centre for Manx Studies The University of Liverpool
Total votes: 327
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:17:55 +0000Coincidence ID:3662

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