Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Surprise birthday party

During my first semester of college, in December 1963, I was contacted over the winter break by someone I'd known in high school who said that plans were in the works to throw a surprise birthday party for a mutual friend and told me to call Laurel, at whose parents' apartment in upper Manhattan the party was being held.

Chance Meeting on a Beach !

I was a graduate of University of Kent until 1982 when one of my best mates went off to University of California to do his MA . In 1984 lying on a beach in Ios, Cyclades i threw back an American football to an American youth on a European tour who was coming to London and due to stay with the mother of a boy he had met at university in California, who lived in Romford, Essex . He unfortunately had misplaced the phone number of the lady. I was able to supply him with that number there and then as it was my students friend mum !!!

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.

same day of the week

My brother was born on September 4 My parents were born on February 27 My parents were married on April 10th I was born on July 17 The above all fall on the same day of the week - regardless of year

Wedding & Honeymoon

My honeymoon was arranged by my parents, who purchased everything based on vague instructions (near Carcassone, must have a pool, if I remember correctly). We didn't play any part in it beyond this. The wedding had about 40 guests, and went very well (it happened to be about the only dry day in a very rainy summer, but thats a different - and less impressive coincidence) We arrived at our honeymoon accommodation, and got talking to the owner (who was cleaning the pool). It transpired that he had family near where my wife had just moved from.

Total Flukeout!

I was in my wee office room, reading your blog post on your appearance on Total Wipeout. From the lounge, I heard Richard Hammond announcing, "This is Professor David Spiegelhalter". What are the chances? ;-)

Exam coincidence

I was taking the Oxford University entrance exam at school in Birmingham in 1981. One of the papers I had to take involved writing a precis of an unseen passage and then answering questions about it. On the morning of that paper I chose to practice by taking a book from the school library shelves (Rousseau's The Social Contract - not quite a random choice since I chose something that interested me but not something I had any reason at all to believe would figure in the exam), selecting a page at random and writing a precis of the argument.

Restaurant Plates

My wife and I (Mr & Mrs Dunn) were eating in a Thai restaurant with our friends Mr & Mrs Bennett, in Twickenham around 10 years ago. None of us had been there before. My wife occasionally picks up a restaurant plate and peers underneath to find out the manufacturer if, as a student of crafts, textiles and ceramics, the design interests her. This time she absent-mindedly turned over a side plate and found the maker was... Dunn Bennett & Co. Not just one of our surnames but both, and while we were both there at the same time, and with no other friends, a rare event.

Shared childhood home

I worked for one of the London open top bus sightseeing tours from around 1993 to 1998. Initially I worked on the pavement for a few years as a supervisor (organising the departure of buses and so on) and in doing so got to know the various bus drivers and tour guides that started out or passed by the departure points I covered.

Two cards twice

My mother sent me a card with a drawing of a goose on, since she knew I like drawing and I like geese. A few months or maybe a year later she sent me the same card, having completely forgotten about sending it the first time. Some time later a friend was visiting, and saw one of the cards which was up on the mantelpiece. Not knowing anything about the story behind it, she told me that her mum had sent the same card to her boyfriend on his birthday once. And then sent the same card the next year, having completely forgotten about sending it the first time.