Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

When a wrong number turned out to be the right number

When I was a child, my brother's friend Iain was at our house. The phone rang and the caller asked to speak to Iain. It wasn't anyone who we knew and it turned out that he had actually tried to call Iain's home number, mis-dialled it and reached us. (We had a similar phone number.)

Family birthdays

My Mum has been married twice. My Dad and his brother were both born on 14th March, several years apart. And my stepfather and his brother were both born on 6th March, a few years apart!

Jury service

While a student, I was on the electoral roll in two places - my permanent home and at university. I was summoned for Jury Service in both towns on the same date. Also, when I arrived at one, one if the other jurors had the same name as me. Presumably all down to the computer software used to select jurors? Or just coincidence?

Always say nice things, you never know...

I had just seen a wonderful play featuring Derek Jacobi at the Theatre Royal, Bath. Next day I was waiting in a line at the till at Waterstones in the high street, declaiming to my girlfriend how wonderful he had been and how I wished I had stayed to get his autograph. I turned round after paying for my book, and he was standing there next in the queue! I am so glad I had been saying nice things. And I got his autograph!

sinking feeling

I grew up in Poole, Dorset as a young boy & one of the clearest newspaper stories, which made front news headlines, that I remember from that time is of a Leicestershire couple who were on holiday & inadvertently managed to drive their car into Poole Harbour but escaped uninjured with only their pride in tatters. Some years later, I was recalling this story with my wife & it turned out to be her mother & step father.

Chance meeting in Paris

Whilst in Paris some years ago and trying to cash a travellers cheque. I was directed to various Bureau De Change due to their inability to deal with it. I was diverted 1 final time towards another branch. Whilst standing at traffic lights waiting to cross my wife asked who the guy waving at me was. It turned out to be a work colleague of mine who had just arrived in Paris and was passing through en route to the South of France. Had I cashed the cheque at the first branch I would never have met him however due to a starnge set of circumstances we collided.

A chance meeting on holiday

We lived in Ely in Cambridgeshire and went on holiday to Interlaken in Switzerland. One fine day we are walking down the street, and I see a class mate and her family walking towards me, so said "hello" much to their surprise too. Not just a coincidence of place but of timing too, a few more seconds and we'd have turned off and never known they were even in the same town.

A chance to say thanks & goodbye

When I studied English at Worcester University my lecturer was a Mike B. He had a great style of teaching and everyone was very amused by his wry comments and sense of humour, so much so that some of his observations became a part of my character too. I told my wife this when we went on our honeymoon to Portugal some ten years later. The last weekend of the holiday we drove in our hire car down to Lisbon, and found a hotel on spec (no planning at all, it just looked nice). The next morning we went down for breakfast at 8am.

A popstar calls

My wife and I went to the show "Oh what a night" at the Hammersmith Odeon. It was a great show. Afterwards, I wanted the autograph of the main star, Kid Creole. We were told he didn't do autographs, and left disappointed. The next day we got a call from a girl who wondered if her boyfriend could view the car we had for sale, and of course we said yes, come straight over. Her "boyfriend" turned out to be Kid Creole, who not only bought our car, he had tea with us, and allowed us to take photos. We kept a copy of his cheque too.

A newspaper date coincidence

In the early 1990s I was living in an upstairs apartment in an old three-storey house in the small town of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada. The rest of the building was commercial space and it had not been a residence in many years. One day, with time on my hands, I started poking around in the attic, looking through old cardboard boxes that I suppose had belonged to previous residents. I found toys from the 1950s, tax returns from the 1930s, and so on. One box was lined on the bottom with a complete edition of the Halifax Herald, published in the nearest city.

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