Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Mnemonic special days

We never forget special days in our family as they tend to be close to another relevant special date. My children, aged 7 and 11 now, have birthdays on consecutive days and so are unlikely to forget each others' birthdays in the future (though they may pretend to). My husband's birthday is within a week of Fathers Day every year and mine is within a week of Mothers Day. Our wedding anniversary (admittedly we DID choose our wedding date) is the day before Valentines Day. This is all very convenient as we can halve the number of celebrations by merging them!
Total votes: 860
Date submitted:Fri, 13 Jan 2012 11:45:17 +0000Coincidence ID:3333

how many words in the bible!!!!

many years ago i was doing a quizword puzzle in the mail on sunday question was on the bible and not being a student of this but having inherited the family bible i flipped it open at a random page to find the answer staring me in the face. i do not recall the question but it concerned jail companions and i opened the book on the page relating to shadrach, meshach, and abednego, who i read were in jail together. my answer was confirmed correct in the next issue. is this coincidence, or a random event?
Total votes: 893
Date submitted:Fri, 13 Jan 2012 11:40:20 +0000Coincidence ID:3332

Browns all in a row

Imagine 6 houses in a row. My name is Brown and I live in no 2. Some years ago a Brown also lived in 3, 5 and 6 at the same time. 3 and 5 have since moved and 5 years ago a Brown moved into no1
Total votes: 958
Date submitted:Fri, 13 Jan 2012 11:33:43 +0000Coincidence ID:3331

Who needs a dating agency?

After a decade of batchelor-hood in my 20's I joined a dating agency and through them met my wife (circa 2000). The agency actually broke their normal rules of matching people locally and paired us up even though we lived 120 miles apart. I was working (and always had - from 1991) in Ipswich, having grown up in a small village in the highlands of scotland. She spent early childhood in Glasgow but was soon moved to Corby (Northhamptonshire) where she grew up and still was (from about 1974 onwards). The dating agency (old style paper-based) matched us up and, to cut a long story short, we got engaged. This of course triggered more interest from the rest of the family. What we actually discovered was that my wife's uncle, still in Glasgow, knew of me, working 600 miles away, and of my family in the Highlands. i.e. he could pin-point who I was in his knowledge of friends and acquaintances. (I on the other hand, didn't even know he, or my wife's family, existed). Here's the chain of connection. Her uncle, "G" always worked for BT as an engineer in Glasgow (70's onward?). I also worked for BT in R&D since 1991. This in itself is not a surprising co-incidence - BT is so large that a fairly sizeable proportion of the working population has worked for them. However, this same fact means that few people within the company know each other. At one point it was 250,000 employees all over the UK - generally employees only know their local colleagues. G's knowledge of who I was came through the knowledge of my family. He was best friends with the McH's in glasgow, who regulalry visited an old crofter, "R", in the village where I grew up and where my parents live - up in Highlands: Roy Bridge. They visited him for their holiday every year once or twice a year. Now, R was/is also a longstanding good friend of my parents (and me) ever since they moved there in '74; so being a small community, the McH family are practically part of it. We all knew each other fairly well and a lot of community activity revolves around the local church. As a result of this, back in Glasgow, G (good friend of the McH's) was aware of Roy Bridge life and the involvement particularly of my family, as my mum was local teacher, church organist etc. I'm sure many a dram was enjoyed in Glasgow talking about holidays had and people met by the McH's when they went on their usual holiday. Consequently G would have known about the existence of my family, who we were very active in the community. It doesn't seem remarkable when you follow that chain, but when you look at it from "the outside in", which was my perspective, it looks like this: A "random" set of people all over the UK join a dating agency. The agency breaks their rules and match two people who would normally live too far apart. These people grew up at opposite ends of the country. I have no prior knowledge of my wife or her family or family history. So then when the family learns of our engagement, my wife's uncle, who lives 600 miles away from me, basically says "I work for the same company and I know who you are". From that angle it is/was most surprising!
Total votes: 952
Date submitted:Fri, 13 Jan 2012 11:33:25 +0000Coincidence ID:3330


Imagine 6 houses in a row. My name is Brown and I live in no 2. Some years ago a Brown also lived in 3, 5 and 6 at the same time. 3 and 5 have since moved and 5 years ago a Brown moved into no1
Total votes: 933
Date submitted:Fri, 13 Jan 2012 11:32:51 +0000Coincidence ID:3329

old colleagues

On the same day I received communications from 2 guys who I had been a graduate trainee with 33 years earlier. I had only been in sporadic contact with either since, and they had not been in contact with one another.
Total votes: 962
Date submitted:Fri, 13 Jan 2012 11:17:44 +0000Coincidence ID:3328

my life

My incredible coincidence is in the mode of "unlikely chain of events." 13.75 billion years ago the universe was born. Since that time, the exactly correct sequence of events has conspired to end up with a situation whereupon I am posting this story on your website.
Total votes: 928
Date submitted:Fri, 13 Jan 2012 11:06:38 +0000Coincidence ID:3327

Last name

The unbocking code for Youtube at my college was my last name
Total votes: 985
Date submitted:Fri, 13 Jan 2012 11:04:04 +0000Coincidence ID:3326

Two in the Bush

In 1968 I was a young engineer surveying a route for a road out in the Zambian bush hundreds of miles from civilisation. As I drove through a mud hut village I came upon an up-market hut with corrugated iron roof and a Coca Cola sign. Outside was another vehicle. This was such a highly unusual sighting that I decided to stop and be nosey. I was practising my "Doctor Livingstone, I presume" opening line as I entered but what I saw completely stopped me in my tracks. There was a friend of mine from back home in the UK, large as life and equally amazed as I. It had been many weeks since I had seen a non-African. That the first one I saw was a friend from UK was an amazing coincidence. We had last seen each other three months before back in London and we had not discussed the possibility of going to Africa. I still find it incredible that two friends could meet randomly half way around the world in the middle of a wilderness.
Total votes: 877
Date submitted:Fri, 13 Jan 2012 11:00:35 +0000Coincidence ID:3325

phone box wrong number was for passer by

In the mid 80s I lived in south Birmingham and after the pub my friends and I would walk home past a row of shops and then peel off to our various houses. One day when walking home the public phone box on the row of shops was ringing (this was about 11.30 at night). One of our group decided to answer it for a laugh and when he answered it the call was for him! His friend had mis-dialled his home number and got the call box just as he walked past. (When we looked into it the timing was partly because his friend had called at a time when he thought he would be getting in from the pub and the two phone numbers were very similar.)
Total votes: 983
Date submitted:Fri, 13 Jan 2012 10:53:23 +0000Coincidence ID:3324