Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Newton abbot

We were on holiday in Antigua and had gone to "the" place to watch the sunset along with a few thousand others. Having failed to find a couple from our hotel we had arranged to meet (it was dusk), I put my arm around the man I then noticed standing right next to me and said "Hi Keith, what brings you here?". Keith was our best man over 30 years earlier and we hadn't seen him in ten years or more (we live in Devon, he, near London). After chatting he mentioned an incident on his flight over where the couple sitting next to him had got into animated conversation as they passed over Devon, trying to spot their house. When he discovered just where they lived, he asked them if they knew us as we lived in Newton Abbot. He said he hadn't previously talked about us for years. We returned to our hotel and a couple was sitting at the bar, the lady of which my wife was sure she recognised but could not think from where. I approached and simply asked if they lived in Newton Abbot and we discovered that the wives had stood outside the same school collecting children, again many years earlier.

House Numbers

Hello David, Myself and 3 friends meet once a week, every week, and have done so over many years to go "ale tasting", walk, play 10 pin bowling or attend the cinema etc. There are just 4 of us in the group and we all live in different streets in Bishop's stortford and Sawbridgeworth and none of us moves house often. Some years ago we discovered that our house numbers were 55, 66, 77 and 88. I heard you on Radio 4 this morning and thought this might be of interest. I would be pleased to hear any comments that you may have. Thanks Robert Stroud ps. Unfortunately now one of us has recently moved to a boring No. 8


We have two children; at one time both had partners whose mothers' birthdays were on Boxing Day - very convenient as it meant that they always had their big celebrations on Boxing Day, so we could have Christmas Day and everyone was happy. Unexpected Meeting: we were on a cruise in the Baltic a few years ago, and spent Sunday in Helsinki. We went to the Orthodox Cathedral there and stayed for part of the service. When we left we started talking to a young Englishman who had also been sitting down for some time, and found that he came from the same town as we do.

Mr David Parker

My eldest son, James Harry Frederick Parker, was born on the 21st July 1998. Through a quirk of the UK's education system we discovered that another James Harry Frederick Parker was born on the very same day. We live in Kent and the name sake lives in the Channel Islands. We are not related and have never met.

Multiple coincidences within 24 hours

I live in Sussex and yesterday I arranged to meet my 20 year old son in Greenwich. We both like old books, and so we went to explore a very ramshackle second hand bookshop. I picked out a couple of books, one for me and one by HG Wells that I thought might interest my son. Having followed different paths round the shop, came up to me and told me that he thought that he had seen a book by HG Wells that he hadn't heard of, but that it had only been a book about him. I then showed him the book that I was holding for him - which was a book by HG Wells that he hadn't heard of. On the train home, he was reading a book by Kurt Vonnegut called "Cats Cradle". On our journey, I was reading a somewhat trashy and not very well written science fiction novel, in which one of the characters drew a comparison between a mysterious substance that had been found with...a mysterious substance in the book "Cats Cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut. This morning, I was coming too in bed, and thinking about this coincidence, and that it was a pity that I didn't know of anyone who might be collecting such instances.

birthday coincidence

My father lives at No 26. His neighbour at No 28 has his birthday on 16th July. His other neighbour at No 24 has his birthday on 16th July and his neighbour at No 22 has his birthday on - yes, you've guessed it - on 16th July. As I frequently tell people, I am my father's daughter! and although I do not live with him these days, my birthday is on - 16th July! We think this is a pretty good example of coincidence.....?

I-pod tunes

Some years ago I was working on a project in Ethiopia, travelling backwards & forwards with a colleague who became a friend. We had 4 trips backwards & forwards, lots of hanging about. On one trip, we were stuck in Dubai airport & Dave persuaded me to buy an i-pod as they were so cheap. I got one that stored 800 pieces of music [same as Dave's, but green] which I quickly filled up, using it particularly when travelling. On our last trip, we were waiting for our plane in Gondar airport, sitting on the seats. I was listening to my i-pod on shuffle, as was Dave - we had a conversation about the fun of serendipity. A favourite of mine [First Song, played by Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny] came on & I showed my screen to Dave, as he'd introduced me to the CD. He held out his screen - same piece of music was playing! A few years later I was travelling on a train from London to Sheffield, sitting in airline-style seats. Again, I was listening to my i-pod on shuffle, when a Norah Jones track came on. I spotted Norah Jones on the screen of the lap-top being used by the guy in the seats in front of me - then saw it was the same song.

Birthday dates

My parents had four children. The first and third were born on 8th March - in 1942 and 1948 respectively. The second and fourth were born on September 9th - in 1944 and 1953. Only two birthdays between the four of us. The siblings who share the same birthday are facially very similar to each other.


My Mother, Hilda, a Nova Scotian, was travelling in the Scottish Highlands, with a young Nova Scotian friend (Joan) who was at the time teaching in Germany. She had shipped her car from Nova Scotia to Gemany and they were travelling in it at this particular time. Joan was out of the car recording somebody singing a folk song. Mother was waiting patiently when a second car (UK registration) pulled up. 'Are you really from Nova Scotia?' was the question. Mother answered in a non-committal way that yes, she was. 'Oh, I was there a few years ago. Do you know the Annapolis Valley'. 'Yes', said Mother. 'Do you know the village of Lawrencetown?' 'Yes', said Mother. 'Well, when I was there I dated a lovely young farmer by the name of Clarence FitzRandolph. Do you happen to know him?' 'Yes', said Mother non-committedly again, 'I married him'. And that was the end of the conversation!

Seasonal birthdays?

Are birthdays hereditary? I take after my mother's side of the family, specifically her father and all have our birthdays in July/August. My mother's brother also takes after his father and fits the pattern. My sister takes after my father's side, and his father, plus his brother, and all of them have February/March birthdays. On asking people which of their parents they look like, then what are their respective birthdays, this pattern is almost always followed. Not to the month but to a couple of months usually. Maybe this research will demolish my theory but if not, is it co-incidence or a biological pattern?