Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Niagara Falls

Just about to disembark the Maid of the Mist, the boat that takes visitors to closely view Niagara Falls, an American lady asked us where we were from. We replied 'a very small village in Lancashire, UK, with about 100 inhabitants'. Walking past the queue for the next trip, we heard a voice call out and were astonished to see neighbours who live about 200 yards away, one of whom had been our son's very good friend at school.

I Remember You

In the Summer of 2005, I was book shopping in a charity shop on the King’s Road, Chelsea. A radio was playing in the shop, and a female singer was performing the old standard “I Remember You”. It got me thinking of the Australian singer Frank Ifield, and of my late grandmother, who was a fan of Ifield and would often play his record of the same song. Although I hadn’t thought of it in years, that record, complete with Ifield’s yodelling you-hoos, entered my mind and I could not get rid of it. It was still playing through my head when I left the shop and boarded a bus for Earl’s Court.

Meant to be together?

My husband & I have been married for 27 years & when we met we were quite startled by the number of coincidences we shared. We were both at midnight. We both have the same middle name, Frances. I went to school at Holy Cross Convent in Chalfont St Peter, Bucks, my husband went to Holy Cross Grammar in Hamilton, Scotland. We both studied at Central Polytechnic in London, albeit at different times. My maiden name was Hamilton, he was born & grew up in a town called Hamilton in Scotland. My father worked for approx.

What's in a name?

A few years ago, I was checking something on my computer just before bedtime when I noticed a piece of paper sticking out from under my desk. It turned out to be an old double page from a local newspaper that I had worked on about a decade before. I had laid the paper on the floor while decorating the room and somehow it had got left behind under my desk drawers. It still had a few spots of dried paint on it. I glanced at the paper before throwing it in the bin. It was a page of wedding photos, including one young woman who had married a man with the unusual surname of Sucksmith.

3 birthdays

My mother, born on 4 December 2011 (and now sadly dead), gave birth to me at home, on her 28th birthday with snow on the ground in 1939. My daughter, Rebecca, then gave birth to her firstborn, Thomas on our birthday in 1993. For several years we all celebrated our joint birthdays together and feel there is something missing now that Mum is not with us.

Before computers

Before computers, I needed a spreadsheet to complete my monthly restaurant books. Too poor (or tight) to buy a book of these sheets, I let the matter ride. Whilst using the local library's photo-copier for something else, imagine my surprise when I lifted the lid of the machine to see EXACTLY the sheet I wished to photocopy, abandoned by the previous user. Result!!


My brothers are lifelong transport enthusiasts. A friend gave them a booklet printed by the Adelaide Tramway System, in Australia, when it was inaugurated c 1900. On reading this booklet, imagine my brothers' surprise to see a picture of our maternal grandfather, resplendent in high collar and cravat, as part of the team of civil engineers who had surveyed and engineered the project.

Neighbours reunited

Several years ago, when I was in my late 40s, I was talking with an Australian business contact on the phone, when he confided that he was selling his business and that he was meeting with a representative of the company that was buying him out that day. He knew very little about this man, except that he came from my own hometown in the UK. Laughingly, I said "Well naturally, I'm bound to know him!".

Lightning strikes twice

Seven years ago my daughter was diagnosed with MS. She had a very severe episode that left her pretty much bedridden for four months, but happily recovered enough to take up her normal life. During this time, her partner was incredibly supportive. A couple of years later, after a series of baffling minor illnesses and mobility problems, he too was diagnosed with MS, something which even their doctors agree is both unusual and very bad luck.

john b

When about six years old during the mid 1940s I recall meeting two Land Girls in a barn on a farm near my home village in South Leicestershire; nothing memorable occurred and the incident remained forgotten for many years. Later, during the late 1970s or 1980s I was queuing at a local Post Office in Northampton when I was approached by a lady who knew my name and recalled the incident, saying that she was one of the Land Girls concerned and was now living in the town, I do not recall any mention of the other girl. We had a pleasant conversation and then both went about our business.