Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

The Glass Opera T-Shirt Incident

In the late 1990s I worked as a mastering engineer in a low-rent recording and mastering studio somewhere on the European continent. It was the days when access to a CD writer was a special thing. I had the original vinyl recording of Philip Glass' "Einstein On The Beach" Opera and did not want to play it to pieces, so decided to transfer it to CD, while assisting a freelance sound engineer recording a band in the studio next door. I had never met this engineer before, he was a bit older than me and worked at much better gigs than I did.

Meeting on a plane

I was due to fly from Los Angeles to UK but the flight was cancelled and I was rerouted on a flight via Chicago, where I'd have to have a stop-over. After take-off, someone asked if I would change seats so they could sit with a partner, and I moved to an aisle seat. I looked across the aisle, and saw a man reading a chapter in a book I knew on a very specialised academic topic that I have published on. There's probably about ten people in the world really interested in this stuff. Emboldened by free alcohol I introduced myself (can't remember how!).

Meet acquaintance the other side of the world

Im a postman. I have 440 houses on my round. About 5 years ago I went on holiday to India, Mount Abu and was chatting to a fellow in the hotel one evening and we realised that his house was on my round.

Holiday Friend

When I was about 9, a friend of mine at the time was a girl called (for the sake of this) Mona. It was nearing the end of term, and I was heading off for a week in France with my family. We stayed in this small village, with only about 20 houses in the nearby region. You can imagine my surprise when we got there, and we found that inside the neighbouring house was my friend Mona and her family, also staying in the village! The two families hadn't collaborated or planned it, it had just occured.

Wikipedian's burning ears?

Emailing a colleague about Wikipedia editing training, I mentioned that a few months ago I'd met a director of Wikimedia UK, and that we should contact him to find out more about training. The very second I pressed the Send button, an email came in from this same director making the first contact since that meeting, asking if we'd thought about Wikipedia editing training...

Parralel holiday + Pokémon murder

I don't believe in fate or destiny or anything like that, and I see all these things as just amusing happenings of probability and large numbers, but there are quite a few. No1. So my girlfriend and I booked a holiday in Malta. We get to the hotel, and while booking in someone behind says "Adrian?". I turn round and my two friends who I haven't seen in years are there. Wierd, same hotel, same country, same time for a holiday?

Memory Card

I have a memory card whose serial number was my phone number (at the time)

lucky meeting

I am asking for coincidence stories, but they don't seem to happen to me! The only one I can remember is checking into a run-down hotel in Vienna about 25 years ago, and seeing the name of a friend from my schooldays as the previous entry in the register. I was amazed, but when he walked in the door a minute later I could be very cool and greet him with a casual 'hi Phil', while he was speechless.

Cloudy Pictures

I was once playing Pictionary as a kid and was criticized by my team members, who said 'All your pictures look like clouds!' I drew my next card, and the word I had to draw was.. 'Cloud.' Luckily, they guessed it.

Be careful what you say

When travelling in NZ in 1996 I stayed at a remote and near empty backpacking hostel. Bored one evening I begged the landlord to open up the outdoor spa for a soak, supported by another lonely traveler. We got to talking under the stars and we began to discuss whom and what really annoyed us. I began to talk about one person I found unbearable at school, who'd ended up following me to uni. I'd never much thought of him since leaving college but began to really warm to my topic, describing how he may be the only person I've ever met I'd happily push under a bus.

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