Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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


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.

The early bird gets voting

I went to vote in California's primary on Tuesday at my local precinct. There are about 1500 people registered to vote in each precinct. There were 2 precincts in the room where I voted. The polls were open from 7 am to 8 pm. I arrived around 7:15. Shortly after I arrived, 2 other women arrived. All three of us were voting in the same precinct and all had the first name of Robin (and all spelled "robin" the same way (not robyn or robbin)!! What is the probability that this could happen? (I do not know if we all voted the same way.)

An expressive drawing

An expressive drawing I often make drawings. The other day I showed one of them to a jovial, friendly elderly lady. It is said to be "very expressive" and depicts a thin, bald, rigorous, bitter (?) man with a judgemental look. While she was watching and commenting it carefully (especially on the scrutinizing, judgemental expression of his face ) blood started flowing from her nose. "Does this often happen ?" - I asked. "Practically speaking, never. " - she replied.

link between unrelated "narratives"; a stranger no stranger.

I am the proprietor of Independent Bookshop, Scarthin Books, in Cromford, Derbyshire. From the shop counter one can clearly see the front door, but a part of the shop straight ahead is obscured by bookshelves. Some years ago, a mature lady unknown to me entered and began speaking in baby talk to a toddler hidden behind the shelves. I decided to make a joke out of the apparent absence of any other recipient of her bay talk and said to her "Ahhh, no-one's spoken to me like that in 40 years".

Same password

I logged into my computer one morning and was surprised to discover a completely different desktop. On investigation I found that I was not logged in as myself, but as one of my colleagues, so it was his desktop I was seeing. How could that happen? He'd used my computer the night before, and when I logged in I just typed my password without looking at the user name it was offering me. And I got in because we both had the same password (for no reason of any connection between us). So when he arrived at work I was able to surprise him with "I know your password".

Gas station encounter

This coincidence needs a bit of back story to understand the impact I felt from it. I headed out relatively late one evening to go to the grocery store. The drive to the store from my house basically involves driving south down one road - it's very simple and straightforward, and takes at most 5 minutes (when there's traffic). When I pulled out of the driveway, I noticed that the car was very low on gas. Because my wife was going to take our kids out somewhere the following day, I stopped at a gas station that's not too far from the house to fill up the tank.

Mrs M. W.

our first grandson was born on my 41st birthday July 1997 our forth grandson was born on our 41st wedding anniversary Aug 2015

Finding a t-shirt (yours) in a faraway land

I heard this coincidence story third-hand, from a professor teaching an undergraduate-level conservation course. She was lecturing about Tambopata, Peru, and went on a tangent about a former student who had been studying (or perhaps doing fieldwork) there. The student was at a market that sold used clothing, and while sifting through the piles of clothes, happened to find a t-shirt emblazoned with the logo of his youth sports team with his name and number on the back.