Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Know 50, know the world

At a dinner in France where I knew only the convening couple and my husband, there was much argument about the idea that, if you know 50 people, you have contact with the world. I leant across the table to the man opposite (British) who I had met for the first time that evening and I asked where he was born. "Oh you won't know the place. A small town in England". "Try me". "Westcliff-on-Sea" "Oh yes, I know the place. What's the date of your birth?" Date given.

Meeting in Venice

A couple of years ago, I visited Venice with my husband. We spent a pleasant day discovering the unknown Venice, wandering around all of the little unmarked alleyways and piazzas, stopping for refreshments whenever the mood took us. During one such pitstop, I sat down at an outdoor table whilst my husband went into the cafe to order tea. Idly scanning the group at the next table, I observed that the woman looked strangely familiar. A closer glance revealed that it was, in fact, my husband's brother and sister-in-law and their teenage daughter!

Three coincidental numbers

When I married, the date was October 29. The house we moved into after was number 29. Six years later our baby girl was born on October 29! Sadly a few years later our marriage went badly wrong and we went separate ways. I took an apartment in Norwich, number 8. A year later I moved to Cambridge and took a bedsit, it happened to be number 8, not by choice. Another year later I was allocated a brand new apartment in Cambridge, also number 8!

Two stories

Hello - I heard the article on Radio 4 the other morning. Perhaps you were swamped with emails after that! I’d also be interested to know the results of your research when they are published. I have two coincidences that stick in my mind, and would be happy to provide more details if you need them. About twenty years ago I was on a business trip to Bombay, and got in the hotel lift on my last day.

lorry drivers

My husband worked nights for a lorry repair company and one night, struggling with a repair was making a lot of noise. A man rang the company and said could they stop as he had to get up for work at 5am and needed some sleep. Over a year later my husband was driving lorries in Saudi Arabia. He'd stopped for the night and was cooking some dinner on a little stove when another lorry pulled up. The driver was also English and they chatted. He was the man who had phoned to complain about the noise.

Lost Camera

I was at work one morning in Leeds when one of my colleagues told me he had found a camera in a taxi in Bradford. I didn't think anything more about it until a few days later when he came in with the photos which had been taken on this camera. I asked if I could have a look at the photos and wow, there was a picture of my then sister-in-law who had been attending a function in Bradford with my brother. It turned out the person who had left the camera in the taxi was at this function. Due to this amazing coincidence she got her camera back. What's the chance of that happening!!

Australian holiday

On holiday in Australia we stayed a few days in Noosa, Queensland. It rained so we went to a bar. We got talking to the only three other people; the couple lived in St Leonards-on-Sea which is a few miles from our hometown Bexhill-on-Sea. The first day back at work a customer whose car was booked in for repair that day said "I hear you had rain in Noosa". The couple had got home before us and were the customer's neighbours.

three cards

My wife was playing a solitaire card games, when for no reason I ask her to shuffle the cards and draw three cards face down, I then tell her the hand.

Mannah from Heaven?

In 1975 my then husband and I were on Sicily, we teamed up with an American we had met and decided to climb Mount Etna. Not realising how far it was to the crater I found myself flagging, we thought we couldn't be too far away because of the smell, but we decided to turn back to be on the safe side. We stopped to have a rest before we set off back down and I duly went behind a rock for a comfort call. Lo and behold there were 6 oranges in a pile on the floor. Why? Why did I choose that rock? Who had put them there?


I lived with a man in Jersey, the Channel Islands, whose wife had died two years before from cancer. Her friends had set up a network of women to help with the children, shopping and housework. One was a lady called Mary. My relationship with the widower ended and I met my husband. He said he had friends in Jersey. They turned out to be Mary and her husband who had worked in the Middle East with him.