Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Barry Petts

My wife received a new PIN number for her debit card and she asked me to change it to one she would remember. When I got to the hole in the wall I peeled back the security tab only to see it was the number she wanted!

PIN Number

My wife received a new PIN number for her debit card and she asked me to change it to one she would remember. When I got to the hole in the wall I peeled back the security tab only to see it was the number she wanted!

collision at Heathrow

A few years ago I arrived at Terminal 3 Heathrow from Borneo. After a reviving cup of coffee I made my way across the concourse to the Railair bus stop. I looked up to steer a course through the crowd and locked eyes with my son who was making for the railway station having just flown in from Boston USA.

Meeting a stranger twice in unlikely circumstances.

About twelve years ago my Mother was a resident in an old people's home in Cumbria. Every three months or so I would drive up there, stay with my sister and pay a couple of visits to her over a weekend. I usually returned to London on a Monday but on this particular visit I came back on a Sunday. This was a hot day in August and the traffic on the M6 and M1 was very heavy. As usual I stopped about half way down the M1, re-fuelled and had a coffee. On returning to my car, I had just put the key in the door of my car when a smart Mercedes stopped on the other side.

An unlikely meeting

We lived on a boat in Kalamata in the southern Peloponnese in 1992. We made many friends there especially with English speaking migrants one being Andrew who was a South African who was enjoying retirement in a motor home based on an old military vehicle.


On holiday in Gran Canaria, in a restaurant I told my partner about a surprise I had planned for her father's imminent 80th birthday. I said that just before leaving Ireland two days earlier I had sent an e-mail to an Irish newsreader whom her father liked and had asked her for an autographed photograph. Literally within seconds of me telling her, the newsreader walked into the restaurant......

A Long Train Journey

It was 1996 and Matthew, aged 21, was making the long 3 day train journey from Perth, in Western Australia to Sydney. He intended spending some time in Sydney before continuing on his travels to Thailand. After two nights spent in the pretty uncomfortable sleeper seat, the train stopped at a small inland country town, Young, in New South Wales. The seat next to him was taken by Martin, aged 20. Martin is my husband's nephew and, at this time, we hadn't met him, only having seen the occasional photograph.

Pictures at an exhibition

In the mid-nineties I went to University in Yorkshire and would get the coach home to Wales which would always involve a change at Birmingham. On one occasion we nearly missed the change, so with only a few seats remaining on the departing coach I sat down next to an elderly woman for the onwards journey. We got chatting and it turned out that not only had she been evacuated to my town in west Wales during WW2 but she’d actually lived in a house which (though it’s since been rebuit on the same site) was then surrounded by fields and is now in the street I grew up in.

sequential license plate numbers

Once about 25 or 30 years ago my license plate on my truck was 371719. One day I was driving up a hill and noticed the car in front of me had the plate 371718. Just as I was thinking how weird that was, the car in front of that one turned off and I could see that its plate was 371717. So there were three cars in a row with plates 371717, 371718 and 371719. They were all New Hampshire plates. This means the cars were all registered at the same window at the motor vehicles dept. in sequential order.

Birthday coincidences

There are a couple of different coincidences within our family that I think are quite interesting. Firstly my mum and her brother were both born on the 19th of the month and my sister and I are both born on the 28th of the month albeit different months. My mum is 8 years older than her brother and I am 6 years and 6 months older than my sister. The second coincidence is that myself, my sister and my nephew were all born 16 minutes in the hour.