Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

My Improbable French Bestie

I started to really work on improving my very rudimentary French skills a few months ago and I started using a phone app called Hellotalk which pairs you up with French speaking people who are trying to learn English. I started making friends with people all over the world, having basic multi-lingual chitchat with people in places such as the Ivory Coast, Algeria, Morrocco and of course France. One morning as I arrived at work, I received a message from someone new who wrote that they were from France and they were working as an Au Pair in Australia.

Ran into an old friend I hadn't seen in 20 years

I was standing by a cafe near UC Berkeley thinking of a friend I had in the 80s, who I hadn't seen since then. She lives in San Francisco. I turned and she was walking down the street toward me.

Online dating historic connection

A guy "superliked" my sister on Tinder - by accident, it turns out - and when she found out his history, we realized he had had dinner at our house 25 years earlier, in a city 400 miles away. Maybe he subconsiciously recognized her, but I doubt it.

unlikely meeting

In Nov. 2013 my wife and I were in the middle of a 6 week road trip (from Boise, Idaho) taking a day hike in Jedediah Smith Redwood Park in northern California. The trail was a loop and we saw very few people. But in the middle of the hike we did run into a couple we knew from Boise. We weren't good friends but the husband and I had spent the previous year working quite intensely together on a non-profit reorganization so it felt more remarkable (even if it wasn't). So 600 miles from home in the redwood forest we meet friends from home.


While driving from Raleigh to Southport, I thought I was making pretty good time as the traffic was light and it's interstate most of the way. But by the time I was on the last stretch, NC 133,the River Road along the Cape Fear, thinking I should be only ten minutes away, I realized it was actually 20 min. or more to my destination. I then mused about the recent discovery of wave in the space/time continuum and how I had "slipped" through some anomaly in time. Just after this thought there appeared a billboard off to the right on the next stretch of highway.

William Faulkner cribs the family tree

When I was in high school in New York, my favorite book was The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner's Nobel Prize winning novel about a disintegrating Southern family. Twenty years later, I married a Southern man and moved to Alabama. My husband often told me about his father's side of the family who had lived in Tennessee. The story was colorful and sad. His great grandmother, Mamaw, was left widowed with six young children after her husband was shot by a neighbor in a border dispute over one of his five farms.

On a Bench in Florence

In the summer of 1988 I was living in New York City and had decided (several years prior, during a brief visit to Italy) that I wanted to live in Florence for an extended period after college. The time had come to make good on this promise to myself. I was working in my field and studying Italian in NYC, participating in language exchanges with native Italian speakers, who were attending a program at Columbia University. I met one, Yvonne, who was a blond model of Swiss origin, from the Italian speaking quarter of Ticino.

saw a friend when i needed her

My boss and I were supposed to drive around to a bunch of schools in North Philly, an area that I don't frequent. I had taken the subway there and my boss was supposed to pick me up so we could drive around to these schools. She called me and as we were on the phone, she got in an accident. She was fine but told me she couldn't drive and I would have to visit the schools alone. Fine, but I wasn't sure how to do that since I had no transportation.

Annie Lennox prediction

This happened in the early nineties of last century. I am Portuguese from Lisbon. I was a regular visitor to London. This time I was with my wife and teenage daugther for a consultation with an otorrinologist. We went for lunch at Portobello Road. We saw a nice corner restaurant and decided for it. I jokingly said to my daughter these exact words: in a few minutes Annie Lennox, the Eurythmics lead singer, will come into the restaurant through that door.

"Flotsam and jetsam" or " no sex on the beach"

In the early nineties I was on a surf trip in Costa Rica, traveling from jaco up the pacific coast to tamarindo. We decided to take the old Tempisque ferry above Punta Arenas rather than drive the then dusty roads inland, around, and then back down the Nicoya peninsula. Doesn't matter. Or does it? Anyway, upon landing on the other side we hit the cantina for essentials and met some surfers heading back the other way. Got to talking and it turned out they were from New York . Hey, I'm from New York! Really? What part? The city. Oh, we're from Montauk. Do you know so and so?