Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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


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.

Passports and Weddings

The day after our wedding we went to Gatwick to fly to Venice for our honeymoon. We were at the front of the queue to board the plane and there were two desks open to check passports. As my wife showed her passport, the receptionist asked "Do you have an extension on your passport?" Simultaneously I heard the receptionist at the other desk ask the same question to the lady of the next couple in the queue. My wife's passport had expired and the other lady's passport had also expired. In the event, after phoning ahead to Venice, both were allowed to travel.

Children's Birthdates

Three of my children were born on dates that are palendromic (if you don't include the 19) the first was born on 17/1/71; the second on 27/11/72 and the third on 8/7/78. Not true palendromes I know but good enough for me. My fourth child does not have a palendromic birthdate but is called Hannah so her name is a palendrome. Her birthdate is 10/9/87.


My daughter was living in Cyprus with her husband who was in he forces, and she was bridesmaid to one of his colleagues. I was going on holiday on a tour bus to the south coast, with a friend. I was telling my friend about my daughter being a bridesmaid, when I felt a tap on my shoulder and the lady on the seat behind said that was my sons wedding you were talking about. She was c omplete stranger.

Meeting an evacuee

A long time ago, over 50 years actually, I moved from a small village in Buckinghamshire after getting married. One day I went into my local post office in Gloucester and handed over a parcel addressed to my mother. The lady behind the counter was amazed to see the address as when she was an evacuee during the war she used to stop at my house and get free windfall apples that we used to put out by the gate

Parallel lives

When my boyfriend and I were travelling the world in the 90s, we stayed with some distant relatives of my family in rural Western Australia. During our stay, the wife, Jill, showed us a photo album of the one time she and her husband had visited England, more than 10 years before when they were on their honeymoon. Every photo except one had a caption and Jill asked if we knew where the photo was taken. My boyfriend was looking at the photo - it was of a family feeding pigeons - and said he thought it was Trafalgar Square in London. Then he said "That looks a bit like my dad...

Costa Concordia wreck.

On Wednesday 11th January 2012, I attended an image editing course at Rushden Learning centre, Northamptonshire. To demonstrate the image removal technique, the tutor removed from the picture a luxury liner and extended the line of hills beyond the shoreline. On Friday 13th January 2012, the liner Costa Concordia keeled over off the Isle of Giglio, Tuscany.Spooky or what ? EWK.