Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

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. At the time I was working as a journalist so of course I pulled it out to take a look. The date on the paper was May 3, 1969 - the day I was born. There were no other newspapers in the attic. I'm unsure how unlikely a coincidence that would be, but I saved the newspaper and I still have it, 20-some years later.

whats in a name

my name is J ohn my youngest daughter's name is O livia my wife's name is H elen my eldest daughter's name is N atalie

From one side of the world to another...

I was born in Changi Hospital, Singapore, near the equator. So was a kid called David, in the bed next to mine (well, obviously, next to my Mum's bed really) on roughly the same day as me. I left Singapore at the age of 2 (can't remember my childhood there). 14 years later my parents had long since relocated to Ely in Cambridgeshire and I started my first day at school. In my Tutor class we were allocated our desks. At the desk next to mine was David, the same kid from the bed next to mine. I only found this out when I went home and my Mum asked me who my new friends were at school, and she remembered his Mum. How's that for a coincidence?

Dream Home

My husband and I were on holiday in Egypt a about 20 years ago and we met a lovely young English girl on the trip who we kept in contact with sending Christmas cards and even went to her wedding. Imagine my surprise when she sent me a Christmas card a couple of years ago and said she had seen the house of her dreams in my home town, but the deal had fallen through and she was disappointed. Turns out she moved in to her (dream home) eventually, a few months later, it is in the next avenue to me and was owned by one of my colleagues at work who was moving down south. What a coincidence.

Meeting a Celebrity

A few years ago, my wife and I attended a play at the Mill at Sonning, where we go only every few years. Geoffrey Palmer appeared in the play. The very next morning I had to go to London by train, again something I rarely do. Ascending the escalator at Waterloo, I passed Geoffrey Palmer coming down the other side.

how my parents met

My mom and my dad had dated, briefly and not seriously. They both planned to visit Europe at the same time, so she sent him a letter (semi?)-jokingly proposing that they meet on the steps on the Vatican on a particular day and time and tour it together. He never got the letter. He did however decide to tour the Vatican and, remarkably, chose the day and time that she had specified. There she was, waiting for him. They got back together and were married a couple of years later. If that was the plot of a movie, nobody would believe it.

When in Rome

Back in 1971 whilst still an architecture student my friend and I decided to go to Greece. We both had summer jobs and I decided to leave early and hitch hike to Athens. My friend was to fly out later and I would meet him at the airport. I duely hitch hiked to Athens and was there for about a week before his flight was due. Somehow As the plane was due in just after midnight one of us must have got confused about the date and he wasn't on the plane. This was before mobile phones so I assumed he changed his mind. I had a great 8 weeks going all over the Greek Islands and the time came to return. I got the ferry to Brindisi in Italy and started to hitch hike up Italy. I eventually arrived at Rome and went to the Youth Hostel. Who should be checking out at the exactly the same time I arrived but the friend I should have met at Athens airport 10 weeks earlier

Extraordinary Intercontinental Family Intergenerational Collision

Upon graduating from Cambridge in June 1961 I pursued an International Business Career objective of living and working in South America, becoming a trainee with Balfour Williamson in the City, transferring to their subsidiary SACAE in Guayaquil, Ecuador in March 1962. Upon my arrival I was introduced to the English Managing Director of SACAE, whiose name was John W. The first personal question he asked me following the initial business discussions, related to my Mother' name! He wanted to know if I was in any way related to a Phyllis D who had married a Stuart H in 1935, since my surname was H? I was amazed for amongst other personal matters, my wish for a career far removed from the UK geographically was to create a life for myself and my young wife in an entirely NEW environment unfettered by any contacts or relationships! It turned out that John W married a Joan B also in 1935.

Jetsetting in the Lake District

I was brought up in Malaysia, and as an ex-pat our family were regular fliers to and from the UK. We once had a family holiday touring the north of England, and one of our stops was the Lake District. Having dinner at the hotel that evening, my mother thought she vaguely recognised someone sitting at a nearby table. After a while she went up to this man and after a few moments conversation they worked out that they had both been standing in the queue for the loo on the flight over from Malaysia a couple of weeks earlier, and they had struck up a casual conversation at the time - and here we were two weeks later in Windermere!

Mothers Death.

Around 1988 my mother used to allow a New Zeland cricket professional lodge at her home for 2 seasons. He was the professional for the local cricket club my brother used to play for. After he left and returned to New Zeland there was no contact with him. My mother mover houses approx 3 years later and my brother bought her house where she used to live when the cricketer lodged with her. Approx 6 years later my mother passed away at 2am in hospital. At 8am on that day the cricketer rang her former home telephone number and my brother who now owned the house with the same telephone number. The cricketer said he was looking through a box from his attic at home in New Zeland and he came accross my mothers phone number so he decided to ring her after all these years. This was the first time for many years he tried to ring her and she actually passed away approx 5 hours earlier. She was in the uk and he was in New Zeland.

Pages