Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

ferry meet

In 1996 whilst on holiday in the US, my husband and I were walking the coastal path around the 'cottages' of Newport, Rhode Island. A couple walking towards us heard our accents and stopped - they were British, living in California and naturalised Americans, also on holiday but originally from Bristol, UK, where we live, and where the husband had worked for British Aerospace at Filton, just a few miles from our house. Some days later when driving back to Boston, we decided to visit Martha's Vineyard from Wood's Hole, Cape Cod. On returning from the ferry that evening, we stopped to look at the menu of a local restaurant for dinner; who should come along but the same couple we had met in Newport. We ended up having a meal together - how's that for a coincidence?

Man and book

I booked a sailing holiday in Portoheli, Greece in May 1984. There were only about a dozen people in the small group. A couple of days into the holiday, I found out that one of the other participants worked at an institutiion I had worked at several years previously. He knew some of the same people I had known there. So far, not so amazing, perhaps, but we had each brought with us as holiday reading a copy of the same paperback book - 'The Collector' by John Fowles. Spooky. Peter.

Birthday coincidence

I have 3 brothers, an elder one who is 67, a younger one who is 60 and an even younger one who is 55. In fact the 55 year old is my half brother as my father died and my mother re-married, so his father was my step-father. The birthdays of my elder and youngest brother, the 67 and 55 year old, is 25 January. However, this is also the birthday of the wife of my younger brother who is 60. I have no difficulty in remembering to buy a birthday cards!


In the late 1970's my wife Anne and I were on a touring holiday in Scotland and quite by chance decided to 'speed rusty boat' across to Skye, driving along out in the middle of nowhere we were, quite genuinely, discussing how different to be somewhere so empty and deserted when a car appeared in the distance behind us, it rapidly overtook us then screeched to a halt, it was a friend keith from Leeds who we hadn't seen for some time, he had recognised our car.

mary v

Our three children, the first 8 years older than the youngest, were all born on a Sunday. We've had various probability suggestions and know it's not unique but how often does it occur? Thank you.

Name Address Coincidences

(Names and adresses altered because they're real) I'm a parcel courier. I deliver to two houses called The Cedars about 2 miles apart from each other. At one lives a Miss Kilter. At the other a Miss Kilman. At two other houses, both called Fernleigh, 4 miles apart live two J. Browns.

Nappy & Horse Race - 50 years and 90 miles apart

About 15 years ago I joined the local (Cambridgeshire) Institute of Directors. Their first outing was to Newmarket Races, with a coach provided from near Huntingdon Racecourse. Whilst waiting my wife & I chatted to another couple. It turned out that him & I were both born in Hanworth (Middlesex) about 5 years apart. His mother & my father worked together during the war (not friends just wartime acquaintances). In 1944 my grandmother was bombed out so my parents went to see her and left me (their tiny baby) with with this work acquaintance. This Newmarket travelling companion had clear memories of helping to change my nappies in 1944. Our parents never kept in touch after the war and it is doubtful we ever met again following the nappie changing until by the side of the road over 50 years later and 90 miles away. We did ensure our parents met again after all these years - they did confirm the nappie changing incident.

Coming to London

I was born a twin in New Zealand on the 23 November and raised in a small town called Rotorua. Ten years later my twin and I immigrated to London. After many years of different jobs and lots of travelling I started working for Network Rail. There was a fellow New Zealander already there and we were sat next to each other. After becoming close friends we discovered we both shared the same birthday (probably not so amazing but still tickled us). About a year later a colleague recruited a girl to work in our team. She too, was a New Zealander. After getting to know her (and becoming firm friends) we discovered she also was born on the 23 November, but for me more coincidental was that she too was a twin and had been brought up in Rotorua. To this day the 3 of us are laughing at what had happened 9 months earlier (not the event!) that finally lead to us all meeting up half way around the world to become friends. (Unfortunately we weren't born the same year, but I didn't think that mattered).

One gender, one birthday, simple...

My ex-wife has two sisters; they're twins, and their birthday is 9 April. I have one sister, whose birthday is also 9 April. I have three daughters, who have an easy task remembering family birthdays: one date, one gender. Apart from me (the father in the story), there has been a continuous trail of eight daughters, with no sons on either side of the family... I've long said that women are the future....

Prayer answered or Coincidence ?

During the 1990s my late father needed an operation and as I had recently converted to catholicism I decided, without telling my parents, to have a mass said for him. His operation was due to take place in February of that year so I made the request to the church in early February, rather hoping that his mass would take place in the same month as the operation. The date allocated was in fact 26th March. My father was not a religious man and the thought of a mass being dedicated to him would have been distressing but I said in prayer - " I know my dad does not believe but please let me know that You are with him" The operation did not take place in February - it was rescheduled for - 26th March at 6p.m, - the very time he was having the operation! What seemed odd to me at the time was that far from declaring it a miracle, many devout Catholic friends said - What a coincidence!