Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

John Logie Baird

Two years ago in September we were 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: 320
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:09:36 +0000Coincidence ID:3636

Same name an age apart

Two years ago close friends of mine bought an old house near Petersfield, found for him by an estate agent. It was to be knocked down and a new one erected in it's place. While clearing several out buildings they came across a pile of old leather boxes and cases covered in leaves. One of the larger heavy cases was monogramed with the name Russell, is was about 100 years old. The name of my friend is also Russell, spookey or what? They have since had the cases professionally renovated and are on display in the new house as a great talking point. Regards Mike H
Total votes: 368
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:09:14 +0000Coincidence ID:3635

Call centre coincidence

I worked on a help desk in a very busy financial call centre and was one of about sixty staff that took calls from customers, branches and other call centres about ISA's and Bonds. During 2010's busiest time of year (peak season) we were struggling to answer all of the calls often meaning that queues of frustrated customers 300 deep would be waiting for a very long time to talk to an advisor. At this time I remember talking to a Mr Fletcher. He wanted to discuss both his and his wife's accounts but he knew that due to financial regulations I wouldn't be able to talk to him about his wife's accounts unless she was with him and I could ask her some security questions. After i dealt with Mr Fletchers query he told me that his wife was at work and would call sometime that day. The very next call I took was from Mrs Fletcher! This, given that we were over run with calls and of all the advisors she should come through to me straight after I had been talking to her husband to say the least blew my mind. As soon as I found out her name I told her conveying a large amount of excitement that I had just been talking to her husband. Mrs Fletcher was baffled by this as she didn't think her husband had any ISA's. Feeling a bit worried that I had, in my consternation, let slip some confidential information relating to someone else's account I quickly realised after looking at her details that she was an entirely different Mrs Fletcher. This Mrs Fletcher seemed very unimpressed after I had explained how incredibly unusual this was so I buried my amazement and carried on with her entirely unrelated call. So as the saying goes 'what are the chances of that happening'?
Total votes: 292
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:09:10 +0000Coincidence ID:3634

chance encounter leads to 30 years of marriage

Reading station 1981. I swore at the lateness of the train. She commiserated. We had a drink waiting for the next one. Got into same carriage, still slightly shy. Each took out a book...we were both reading Saul Bellow's novel Henderson the Rain King. Hard to say at this distance whether this was what clinched it. We soon found out that she had lived years before in the same street as my grandmother, so we must often have seen each other as children: a second coincidence. A slighter, third, coincidence is that we both went to boarding schools - separate ones - in the same town.
Total votes: 400
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:08:49 +0000Coincidence ID:3633

Credit Card

Whilst in Somerset some years ago I called in for fuel at a local village petrol station. This was in the days when you had to sign when paying by credit card. The previous customer had left his payment slip in the machine and his name was identical to mine.
Total votes: 321
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:08:42 +0000Coincidence ID:3632

Scary sister Migraine.

Just recently, I got sent home from work after suffering from the symptoms of an artefact migraine. I had distorted vision, which I have experienced before, but only a couple of times and the last time would've been well over a year ago. Anyway, on top of the distorted vision, I also had this weird thing going on where I couldn't think of the correct vocabulary. The words that I wanted to express just wouldn't come out of my mouth. I was stuttering, trying to grasp for words, and then I even started saying random things! This was a new experience for me! It was scary. So, I got sent home from work. Which is also very rare. A friend from work posted on my Facebook page later on, enquiring after my health, which my sister saw and tried to get in touch with me. When we spoke, it turned out that she had exactly the same experience about 1 hour after me. We live in different cities. She doesn't usually suffer from migraines either, we are both generally very healthy!! How bizarre. Mhairi W
Total votes: 401
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:08:33 +0000Coincidence ID:3631

friend and lover with a family connection

In the summer of 1999, I attended the Cambridge Folk Festival with some friends. I was sitting on the grass listening to some music when I overheard two young Frenchmen chatting. Since I'd just finished my French A-level and had also been to France a lot, I thought this was a good opportunity to practise my French. We got chatting and I gave out a flyer to volunteer in an Oxfam shop, which I was managing at the time. One of the young men took a liking to me and came to volunteer every day the following week and even baked me some fairy cakes. When he went back to France, we kept in touch as penpals, writing letters to improve our language. This was the start of a ten-year friendship. Two or three years later, he visited me in Oxford, where I was studying. I was writing an email one afternoon, and he leant over, reading it thoughtfully. My grandmother's name, Kiki, had been mentioned in the email. He then started asking me questions about her. Did she live in London? Yes. South East? Yes. Did she rent out rooms? Yes. Did she have a long-term Belgian tenant? Yes. Did she live on Lowther Hill? Yes! Remarkably, it turned out that my French friend had stayed next door to my grandmother with his Belgian PhD supervisor for the whole summer of 1998, the year before he met me at random among throngs of people at the Cambridge Folk Festival. I took this as some kind of fateful message, and soon we started a short affair. Sadly, the coincidence did not mean we were each others' destiny. Over the years our friendship was punctured by little flings and miserable recriminations. We no longer keep in touch, but I'll always remember this as the most extraordinary coincidence of my life. Jane ps I hope this young Frenchman is not involved in this project, by coincidence, as he had a job as a mathematician at Cambridge some years ago! Sorry if you're reading this hun, but I'm sure you'll agree none of it is untrue.
Total votes: 316
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:08:32 +0000Coincidence ID:3630

Same Birthday

When I was a primary school there were three of us in the same class with the same birthday, not just day and month but year as well and it was the same with my wife's birthday in her class at her primary school. Also my sister-in-law has the same birthday as myself.
Total votes: 296
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:07:31 +0000Coincidence ID:3629

Ted S

I met my wife in Wiltshire in 1972 where she lived with her family and where I was temporarily working. It transpired that my mother and her mother had previously met in Derby in the 1930's, where they lived with their respective parents.
Total votes: 321
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:07:20 +0000Coincidence ID:3628

The room of the harpist

As a mature student at the University of York in the 1990s I often went to the pubs where folk music was played. One evening I was at a pub I frequented and found myself sitting next to a woman I hadn't seen before who was playing a harp. We got talking and discovered that she had previously lived in the same room that I was then living in myself.
Total votes: 341
Date submitted:Sat, 14 Jan 2012 09:06:56 +0000Coincidence ID:3627