Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Message in a book

My sister Pip was a great reader of books, from childhood onwards. We had an aunt, Jean, who gave us lots of books (but not this one). Pip read The Stone Cage in childhood, loved it and, as an adult, was on the lookout for a copy. She visited secondhand bookshops regularly (this was before the days of Ebay and Amazon). One day she found what she'd been searching for - a copy of The Stone Cage. She opened it up and read on the flyleaf 'To Pip, with love from Jean'. She didn't buy it as she said it felt too weird.

A holiday coincidence

On holiday in Austria with parents. Out for walk with mum. Dad stayed in hotel room reading on balcony. Called out "Arthur" underneath the balcony to attract his attention. A man appeared a couple of balconies further along to see who was caling him. Turned out he too was called Arthur and lived half a mile away in the same town in England. Not only this we knew the family!!!! Bizarre or what! Talked about this one for years.

(almost) impossible encounter

I live in London. The event happened in May 2010, I was travelling with my wife and my child in Boston (Massachussets) for our holidays. Our journey was not associated to any professional activity. I was visiting a friend with whom I did (some) of my studies in Paris. During our visit our friends suggested us to visit the Museum of Natural History of Havard University in Cambridge. During my visit, I suddenly and unpexpectedly came across a person with whom I have some regular professional contacts and relations. This person is American, he is a physician from California.

A French coincidence

On holiday in Paris standing by Sacre Coeur talking about how I wished I had paid more attention in French lessons while at school. Turned around and saw my old French teacher - Madame Laurent!!! Had left school years before and never seen her either before or after this.

Birth and Death Coincidence

I was born on August 17th 1939; my only child was born on August 17th 1968. I remarried in the 70's and my second husband always made a joke of the fact that August 17th was my special day as, being an avid reader of fiction I always pointed out the fact that that date often figured in the plot. He used to sarcastically say that anything important was bound to happen on August 17th. He died suddenly and unexpectedly aged 58, of an Abdominal,Aeortic Aneurism, on August 17th 1996, thus ensuring that that date could never be truly celebrated again.


I have lived in North Bucks for 50 years. My nephew David grew up and lived in Wales till he graduated. Then he got a job in Brussels where he met a young lady, Antonia, a financial journalist. In August this year I went to the 60th birthday party of a local friend and there met her oldest friend of some 40 years standing, who had lived all over the UK and abroad. Whilst chatting, she mentioned her daughter who worked in financial journalism. To fill the conversation I said that my nephew had a financial journalist girlfriend whom he met in Brussels.

Meeting a neighbour abroard

I collect fire wood and was in the local woods one day when a man approached me and questioned what I was doing. I assured him I was just collecting dead wood. He actually lived in the same road as myself but some distance away. Some months later we were staying at out flat in the small Spanish town of Santa Pola and having a drink, in a favourire beachside cafe. Four people walked in and sat at the next table. I realised that the nearest man was the man from the woods and asked if he had a brother living in Redditch. We have now become friends.

strange happenings in Barcelona

I was fifteen ( now 47 ) and staying in Barcelona with my sister and father at his friends house in Barcelona. Pepe had been telling me that about a year previously his motor-bike had been stolen by thieves. He had reported it to the Police but said he had given up hope of it being found. I don't know to this day why I said this but I immediately looked him straight in the eye and said with great certainty ( which I felt ) that he would get it back 'very soon'. The following day I went to visit La Sagrada Familia and when we returned Pepe was very excited.

Minster meeting

We had gone to York to visit our son for Christmas and decided to go to the Nine Lessons and Carols Service at York Minster on Christmas Eve. You have to get there early because is gets filled up very quickly. I began to have a conversation with the man who I ended up sitting next to who I had never met before. He began to tell me that he and his wife were also visiting their children for Christmas and had so enjoyed it two years previously that he wanted to be there again. We chatted further and I found out that he was retired and had worked for the ICI paint division in Worcester.

Meeting after 147 years

Families meet unexpectedly after 147 years and 10,600 miles apart In July 1980 I was with my husband, Philip O, and our thirteen-year-old daughter in the nave of Westminster Abbey, examining the memorial of James O (1715–1769), when we were approached by a couple from Australia who asked Philip if he could translate the Latin on the brass for them. Robert and Addie O were visiting England hoping to find out more about their family.