Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Urban legend coincidence

I'm from Penang, Malaysia and I used to attend English tuition in the British Council. Once we were tasked to come up with a magazine in teams, and I decided to contribute an article about horror stories and urban legends in local schools. One school, Chung Ling High School (CLHS), has a particularly notorious reputation for being haunted due to being used as a military base during the Japanese occupation. As I am not from that school, I went about asking others to find out more. One of my teammates is from Chung Ling Independent, which is located next to CLHS.

Negative 2017 News Stories

I experienced the following coincidences in 2017: 1. The mayor of Hickory, North Carolina, committed suicide on May 11, 2017. Hickory is my hometown. 2. Otto F. Warmbier, an UVA McIntire School of Commerce student and former North Korea prisoner, died on June 19, 2017. I am a graduate of the UVA McIntire School of Commerce. 3. Heather D. Heyer, a bankruptcy paralegal, was killed on August 12, 2017, during the demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Parallel life incident

I have recently met someone on an online gaming community who shares most of my primary interests including very specific likes and dislikes. Down to having the same personal habits, and small things like favorite color and other preferences. Our birthdays, while 6 months apart, are on the same day, and the same year. We live at opposite ends of the continent and different countries. We even have slightly similar physical features. I am female and the other person is male.

Bizarre Bazaar encounter

A few years ago I was on a package holiday with my wife in southern Turkey near the town of Fethiye. We arrived late at night and later the following morning, a Saturday, we set off to walk into Fethiye to get our bearings. It was late March and the first weekend of the tourist season. Shopkeepers in the market were opening up their shops for the first time. They were keen for business. We tried not to look interested as we weren't really ready to do any souvenir shopping.

What are the odds?

Before the days of mass mobile phones I was called by a chap named John, who thought that because of my business I may be interested to buy a property he owned about 10 miles away, I was keen to view the property and took his details and arranged a viewing time of 0900 the following Friday. I was self employed at this time and had been shortlisted for a large contract which I had tendered for and was asked to attend a meeting on that Friday morning to finalise the deal.

The case of the matching keys

When I was at university my student flat had the same door key as my parent's house. The two places were thirty miles apart and completely independent of one another but both happened to be my place of residence at the same time. They were both Yale locks and the keys were completely interchangeable. I've always wondered how many combinations of Yale key there are and how much tolerance there is to keys working in locks that they aren't quite correct for.

Encounter in the Sea of Galilee

Some years ago I lived with my wife and family in Israel working as a teacher. We often spent holidays by the Sea of Galilee in the town of Tiberias where we had friends. Tiberias is below sea level and very hot. 35C is fairly common so we spent quite a bit of time in the water keeping cool. On one occasion while swimming with the children I overheard two women talking as they swam nearby. They had southern Irish accents. I am originally from Northern Ireland.

Second hand jacket

I went into an army and navy store in Leicester in 1969 to buy a jacket. I was browsing a rail of surplus and secondhand clothes and picked out an American combat jacket. I paid my 22s 6d at the till and left. After wearing it for a few weeks I decided it needed a wash. Inside the jacket was a hand written name and address. Bill Marshall, 82 Airborne, Soper Street, Long Island, New York. This guy was my late uncle who had been a GI and had met and married my father's sister, and after the war had returned to the Marshall family home.

Lucky 13

In the 1980s I was flying off with 12 other friends for a lads' holiday in Spain. As a nervous flier and fairly superstitious I was uneasy about travelling on Friday 13th. On check in I was given seat 13F. The departure board then showed our flight leaving from gate 13. As far as probability is concerned all fairly routine, but it did prompt many of my travelling companions to joke that I was/ we were all doomed. It then began to dawn on me that this was my 13th trip abroad and worryingly my 13th flight as 6 of my previous European holidays were via ferry crossings.

Odd Cemetery Coincidence

In the town where I work, I walk around a local cemetery's paved roadway at lunchtime, for exercise. It's like a large park, pretty much safe from traffic except for occasional gravesite visitor's traffic, and I like to pass the time by reading names and dates on headstones, and wondering what their stories were, especially the ones who died young. I randomly stopped at one headstone, spying it from about three rows back from the path, as I was passing by. It belonged to a young-ish couple, who had died a few short years apart from each other, both in their 50's.

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