Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Funeral story

About 15 years ago, a near-neighbour where I grew up in north wales died, and I attended her funeral (the first I had ever been to). A day later, someone I knew, who lived in a tiny village 120 miles or so away in Derbyshire, messaged to ask if I could help another friend of his: she was giving a speech at her aunt’s funeral and wanted to say something in Welsh, so could I help translate it? Needless to say, it was the aunt’s funeral that I had attended a day earlier without knowing. His request had reached me too late. Still freaks me out to think about this.

A chance encounter

I have always lived and worked in the UK. In 2008, while holidaying in New Zealand, I visited the Franz Josef Glacier and was walking across the nearby Douglas Bridge when I recognised a familiar figure advancing from the opposite side. This was a former colleague who had left my employers several years before and who, like me, had flown half way round the world for a holiday.

friendly coincidence

My name is Vihini (I'm tall and I have a dark skin complexion) and my best friend is Lochana (she is short and she has a fair complexion). After our o/l we went to separate schools. The person who sat next to my friend in her new school was also another Vihini (short and dark complexion). My friend was surprised and she also have mentioned the other Vihini about me, Vihini as her best friend. but then that Vihini have told Lochana that the best friend of her was also another Lochana (tall and fair) in the same school. and surprisingly Lochana and other Vihini did biology stream and me and other Lochana did maths stream. it was like a paradoxical coincidence.

Doppelgängers

I loved with a man named Sheh (shay) for 2 years in the UK. It’s short for Shehan which was actually his middle name. But his family heritage is from Sri Lanka. He personally would consider himself a huge metal head with Tool being one of his top top artists. Pretty prone to smoking weed and was not shy to psychedelics. Avid guitarist and comic book reader. Pretty much exclusive wears black. I then go travelling for a bit in NZ and pick up a hitchhiker going by the name of Shane. Weirdly enough his brothers name is Shehan. Seemed to be wearing exclusively black clothes and had long hair. I asked him what music he was into… Tool. And where does your heritage lie? “Well I’m originally from Sri Lanka.” Turns out Shane was also a big fan of smoking cannabis and the occasional psychedelics. Not a guitarist but a drummer, and not necessarily a comic reader, but rather writes his own. They didn’t particularly look alike or act alike, but their descriptions are spookily exactly the same.

Of all the photos...

A few years ago my mother decided to start researching the family tree. She went to Cambridge Central Library to get out a few books to help her. There was a large section on genealogy. She picked out a few books, flicked through them and chose the three which most appealed. She queued up to take them out and as she pushed them along she realised that the photo on the cover of the top book, was a photo of her and 5 friends during her nursing training days. Inside the cover it said ‘unknown nurses’ so she wrote to the author to let her know who they were. Of all the photos ever taken in the world... still gives me shivers.

Jerry

Soon after buying my home, I was looking through documents of past owners. It gave names, dates, and previous residences. About 40 years earlier, someone had moved from my childhood home, to this same house

Haircut - oh brother!

In 2001 I travelled to Japan. Spending three months in Tokyo I eventually needed to get a haircut. speaking no Japanese I was handed a folder in which the barber had cut out pictures from magazines of people with various hair styles so the customer could choose a style. Leafing through the pictures I was confronted by a picture of my brother! Not a model my brother had been photographed on the street in London by a Japanese style magazine. Needless to say I didn't select his picture.

Rob

In the early 90's our family went on a trip to Denmark. It was an organised trip including a coach load of family's going to Copenhagen and Lego Land! We arrived at the airport to board our flight only be to told that we already checked in?! It turns out that a family of four like ours who were on the same trip had the same surname as us. Not a huge coincidence but the system did more complex checks than simply checking the name. Turns out the other family had a son and daughter with the initials R and J the same as me and my sister. And they were the same age. The daughter had the same initial as me and was my age and the son the same age as my sister. Again not a massive coincidence as the names were different. However the father had the same name as my Dad was almost the same age and was born in the same town. The mother was Scottish like my mum had the same name and was the same age. Suffice to say that every hotel we were booked thought it was a double booking leading to a difficult week for the poor tour guide.

Sailing coincidence

In December 2006 I was south west of Australia on a singlehanded, non-stop circumnavigation in my yacht Elsi Arrub. My appendix had burst. I was taken off and my yacht had to be abandoned at sea approx. 300 nautical miles from the southwest tip of Australia. I was transferred to a hospital in Albany, southwest Australia. We hired a plane twice to try and find her but had no luck. In mid February we got a call from the coastguard to say Elsi Arrub had been found, 54 days after I had left her. It turned out an American singlehanded yachtsman, James Burwick, who was sailing from Cape Town to Auckland, had got into trouble in roughly the same area. On the way out to assist him the coastguard plane had flown over what looked like an abandoned yacht. They knew my story and this turned out to be my yacht. She was rescued and taken back to my home in Shetland. In March 2014 I was on another singlehanded, non-stop circumnavigation in the same yacht, Elsi Arrub. This time I was dismasted in a storm near Cape Horn. The same storm dismasted another yacht 100 miles away. It was James Burwick again.

Same car

I used to live in north Wales. And my eldest son lived in Dublin. Aside from his wife and himself, his greatest love was his car, a black German motor with a personalised number plate. He occasionally would come over to do some work in England and if he had the time he would drop in for a drink and a chat. One day I was walkng to the pub and saw a black German motor car with a familiar number plate coming up the road. This surprised me as he hadn't told me he was coming over, and moreover he had driven right past my house - and me - without stopping.I called him on the phone immediately and asked what he was doing. Why, he answered, I'm at home working. No you're not, I replied, I've just seen you motoring up my road! Impossible, he retorted, I'm looking at my car parked here on the drive. Well that's weird, I carried on, your car with reg P33PMD has just gone up the hill in the direction of Mold. But dad, he said, my car number is P13PMD. Similar car, similar (VERY similar) number, right place right time. I never saw that other car again

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