Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

A Gruesome Break

For many years I have been a GCSE examination marker and back in the day, we were sent hundreds of actual exam papers. It is a substantial undertaking and needs decent time management and perseverance. I generally marked about 5 papers, took a very short break and went back to it. I completed marking the last of a small batch and turned on the TV, switched on Ceefax (quite some time ago!) and read the tragic story of the death of a young actor from the children’s series, Byker Grove, by the name of Duncan Ford. I went back to my marking and the last paper I had completed was for a student called Duncan Ford and the frank mark on the batch of exam scripts was a school in Newcastle, where Byker Grove is set. There would be several students with the same name taking that exam, that year and I’ve always hoped that it was a different one that I marked.

Argos

I once went to Argos to buy a replacement shower curtain. I filled in form, paid and waited at the collection point. My number came up and watching the collection shelf I noticed they had picked 2 curtains and I was about to alert them to the mistake when a women came forward , she had picked the exact same curtain. I was amazed and said so, she said yes it was a good price seemingly unaware of the chance of this happening. At the time Arhos claimed to have 250,000 items in their catalogue

How do you know my PIN

Buying several items in Waterstones bookshop, I was rather disconcerted that the sales assistant read out my PIN number when I inserted my card for payment, as in, "That'll be ****, Sir." It just happened that the cost of the goods I had purchased exactly matched my PIN. I didn't feel it would be wise to say, "Hey, that's an amazing coincidence!"

A Winter Coincidence

Earlier this year I was staying at an isolated roadside guesthouse, the Ospizio La Veduta, near the top of the Julier Pass in south-eastern Switzerland. At the pass itself is an odd-looking, roughly cylindrical (but actually quite angular close up) wooden structure around four stories high. It is, it turns out, a cultural centre and performance space. Returning home early on Sunday evening I was flicking through TV channels and came across a performance of Schubert's 'Die Winterreise', and tuned in. I was astonished to find that this performance had been recorded in that very cultural centre on the Julier Pass, and the surrounding snowy landscapes (including a brief glimpse of the Ospizio). Now, seeing a cultural performance from a cultural venue one has visited is obviously not very surprising, so I suppose it is simply the proximity in time of finding this building, of whose existence I was previously unaware, and then arriving home to unexpectedly see it again on my TV screen the very next day.

A Parallel Story...What If?

My dad collapsed with an aortic aneurysm and I rushed from London to Cambridge to be there for him. Three days later, I should have been on my way to work in London to co-ordinate examinations scheduled that morning - but because my Dad was so ill I had to stay in Cambridge. Then news started to filter through - bombs on the London Underground. I got chills down my spine when I learned that one happened on the Piccadilly Line (the line I would have been on); in the first carriage by the doors (every day I got in the first carriage and stood by the doors); at 10 to 9am (around the time I would have been going through Kings Cross). I have always wondered about this... luck, fate, coincidence? My heart goes out to all who were caught up in it.

Geographic coincidence

In the late 1970s I lived in a flat in London. I was friends with an African neighbour and popped in on a regular basis. Work called me to Zimbabwe where I struck up a relationship with a young Spanish African woman who invited me to a party where I met her mother. Whilst chatting we discovered that my London neighbour was this woman's sister. I was having relationships with an auntie and a niece. A flat in London and a young woman in the middle of Africa. What are the chances?

Bookmarks

I was reading a secondhand book that I had found on the internet and when flipping through it came across an old bookmark with my name on it (Robin). The telephone numbers on the book mark were not mine though

Thinking of my friend..

While sitting at my desk working this morning, it came to my mind that I had had a dream last night about a friend whom I had grown up with. We were very good friends. We lived on the same street for a long time and then moved and went our separate ways as friends often do. I have not seen her in probably 15 years. I googled her name to see if I could find out where she might be these days. A link to her Mothers recent passing came up (she died 2 weeks ago) came up with an obituary. I haven't thought of her in a very long time and am not sure why I might see her in my dream. I have since reached out to her through the obituary and hope to hear from her so that I can express my condolences personally. I think everything happens for a reason and that having her in my dream brought me to her so that I could say I was sorry to hear of her Moms passing. I would not have known otherwise.

Tunisian holiday

In 2000, we went on holiday to Tunisia. After a few days, we were in the hot tub talking to a young couple we’d seen around the hotel. There was the usual questions of where from? and where work? It turned out we were all from Oxfordshire. They were from Woodstock and we were from Bicester. 13 miles apart. I said I worked in Kidlington and so did her father. I said I worked in a plastics factory, and so did her father. At Moss’? Yes! It turned out that this girl, in a hot tub in Tunisia, was the daughter of a work colleague I worked with on shift.

Random wrong number

I had a voice message from someone from Nat West saying that my mortgage had been approved. Strange because I had never dealt with Nat West and wasn’t applying for a mortgage anywhere. I called the gent back to explain that he had the wrong number, but as I was talking some jogged a memory of his name. So I asked him if he had lived at my current address. After a bit of a pause he said yes and asked me how I knew that. “Because I bought your house” I confirmed.

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