Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Given $15,000

In November 1995 I was looking at my financials for the month and realised that I needed $15,000 to balance the books that month. I wondered to myself “how am I going to find that ?”10 minutes later I received a call from a Dutch partner who was booked to speak in Beijing the following week but could not attend. He was calling to ask me to go in his place, and he indicated that the fee would be $15,000. I needed $15,000 and within 10 minutes it appeared.

Meeting John Denver

I had attended a workshop where John Denver’s songs helped clarify my decision to marry. On Friday I actively thought about how he could contact John Denver to say thank you but dismissed it as a crazy idea. I was surprised to find on opening the next day’s newspaper that John Denver would be in Singapore the following week. I shared the story with my friend Carol who called who her friend Shirley who worked at the hotel where John Denver would be staying. Shirley called me asked me to send a fax for her to pass to John Denver.

Check Amount

I went out at lunch time one day to get a hair cut. The name of the salon was 18/8 Salon. After my haircut, I walked over to the grocery store and picked up a few items for lunch. Fruit, a drink, snack, and a few items from the salad bar (which is priced by weight). My bill upon check-out was $18.08.

Identity theft scare

Some years ago I registered the domain name for my website I checked on the Internet for existing associations between the words "honey" and "Pi" but found very few. One prominent one was the song "Pi" sung by Kate Bush on the CD "A sea of honey" in her album "Aerial". Being mathematically minded I bought the album and enjoyed that song. A few years later I discovered that someone else had registered the domain name, very similar to my own. I looked up the owner of the domain and found my own name there!


I was watching Kevin Bacon and Ryan Reynolds in 'RIPD' when I became aware of the annoying buzz of a housefly. As the two cops prepared for a drug bust showdown,the fly decided the TV was the most interesting place to be,and began traversing the screen, just as our heroes pronounced themselves before entering the hoods hideout. 'SWAT!!!!' The fly exited stage left!

London bus 1942

My parents were refugees from Prague. They were about to become homeless in Kent. My mother on a bus in London found herself next to an old school friend from Prague who was about to leave for USA. Her friend was looking for a tenant for their house in London.

Unlikely meeting

In the summer holidays after my first year at University, I undertook an epic trip across S America overland. At one point I was in the vast Pantanal wetlands, and had just arrived at a hammock camp made for backpackers in a fairly remote part of it. As I put my rucksack in a hammock, I heard someone say my name, looked up, and found the student who had been on the lab bench opposite me for all our laboratory practicals for the year was in the hammock hanging next to it.


Many years ago my partner Benny & I gave up our lives in the city, bought a van and went off travelling around Europe. We ended up in the Costa Del Sol for the winter and met another couple Richard and Jenny who had been living on the road for years. They were buskers who lived from day to day. Often bars would let them perform but only offer them drinks as payment. We became and friends and they took us to places we would never have found ourselves to camp and we spent Christmas and New Year with them.

electrical fault

One day I was in the kitchen with my son and the kettle began to boil. I asked my son if he had put the kettle on and he said no. I said you must have because it wasn't me. He said it was you mum, stop messing with me. It was around the time of the anniversary of my sisters death and I had been thinking about her a lot. A few days later my son & I were in the kitchen again and the kettle began to boil. This time neither of us were near it and we both looked at each other. I said there you go... it's done it again!

Meeting David Spiegelhalter

At lunch with two colleagues, we were talking about the need to communicate statistics clearly to the general public, and of the good work that David Spiegelhalter has done on this. My younger colleague was getting quite excited and, even as we left the restaurant, kept singing the praises of the great man. About half way to our being back in the office, who did we chance upon? David Spiegelhalter of course. (Spoiling the magic: DS was in a meeting at the RSS, which is around the corner from us, so this was not quite an unexpected meeting place.