Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Chance Encounter

I just moved to a new city of 11,000,000 residents and only know a handful of people. I went to my local police station to report a crime that was committed against me by a person who is 2,000 miles away. When I arrived there were three people in the lobby of the station. I know the person at the counter, they manage the business affairs of the individual who I am attempting to report for multiple crimes including stalking.

Watching chance, reading chance

Today, I was watching Professor David Spiegelhalter's BBC Four programme 'Tails you Win: The Science of Chance' which explained the difference in probability, randomness, chance and coincidence. As I was watching I then thought to myself that nothing has happened to me in a while that I would call a coincidence. As I continued to watch, I decided to read the news like I do every morning on the Sky News app and to my surprise one of the first news article headlines that was on the home page read "Anne Frank 'may have been captured by chance'".

Prodigal local

Back in the 1970s when I was a boy living in the old family house in Torquay, Devon, England, a stranger walked off the street down the path at the side of the house and into our large garden where I was kicking a ball around. I asked him " May I help you?" He replied : "Forgive me wandering in but I wanted to have a look at the old place. I lived here until I was about 4, when we moved to America. It's my first time back in the UK." My father was a local GP and had his family medical practice in our home.

Long Lost Cousin

Growing up my parents used to tell me that my moms cousins wife loved the name they gave me (Lea). I was born in December and they were expecting a baby in June. They asked my parents if they could name their daughter Lea. My parents do of course. They also asked how they spelled it (Lea with no H is not common) Fast forward to a few years out of college. I started dating a guy I went to college with who just happened to live down the street from me. He had a roommate named John that he had met post college. John dated a girl named Lea. I hadn't met her yet but asked how she spelled it.

Boyhood friends/birthdays

In 1956/7 I attended a secondary school called St Michael and St George's (I think) near a town Iringa in Southern Tanzania. There I formed a close friendship with another 16 year old, David Leonard. His father was a miner on a small gold mine near Mwanza in Tanzania and we (my father was in the colonial administration) lived some 150 miles away in the same area. We both left the school in 1957, I joined the British army and came to the UK and he followed me to stay with relatives a little later.

Queen of Coincidence

Randomly rented an old movie once....thriller type and everyone in the movie had the same birthday May 10th. I was thinking to myself I'm glad its not May 10th today. Then I started calculated and thought what a coincidence it is May 10th. A smidge scary. The next day I was telling the story about the eerie coincidence and he says hey my birthday was yesterday....I looked at his ID, and yes it was true.

Saving a stamp on a christmas card

I was travelling in Vietnam with a few days left on my visa in December 2013. I bought a ticket to get me through to Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, via a short tour of the Mekong basin. I received an email from an old friend who I hadn't been in contact with very much for many years, asking me for my latest address, "otherwise you wont get a xmas card ...". It turned out he and his partner were about to fly out to Phnom Penh for a winter break. I told him to save the postage and bring my card with him.

The Extra I Ching Coin ?

Many years ago I went to Denmark to work as an engineer. I soon met a Danish girl, and we moved into a flat together. She was a student of Chinese at the university in Copenhagen. The flat was almost derelict and needed much repair; its previous (and then deceased) occupant had no connection with the university. In seeing her collection of books I learnt of the I Ching. This involves tossing three Chinese coins for a series of heads and/or tails for purposes of divination. One then consults a book with one's obtained series.

Cornish Love Match

Miraculously, we found each other late in life… we had raised our families, had our careers. I did not even know he existed, (though he did know of me) but on the Venn diagram of our lives, we had been treading adjacent paths and circling each other through all my growing up years. But the big miracle – call it karma – had us both, 400 miles apart, independently turning on our computers on the same day, at the same time, and using the same dating site – one that enabled us, finally, to meet. He spotted me 'watching' his dating profile...

same room at university

I studied for my undergraduate degree at Manchester University 1990-93. There were about 10,000 students at Manchester Uni when I was there. A similar number at the Poly and a similar number at UMIST , more at the business school etc. I lived in student accommodation in my first year, a place called Oak House. Many years later I was working in the city. We had summer interns every year and one year an intern said he also went to Manchester Uni.