Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

From one side of the world to another...

I was born in Changi Hospital, Singapore, near the equator. So was a kid called David, in the bed next to mine (well, obviously, next to my Mum's bed really) on roughly the same day as me. I left Singapore at the age of 2 (can't remember my childhood there). 14 years later my parents had long since relocated to Ely in Cambridgeshire and I started my first day at school. In my Tutor class we were allocated our desks. At the desk next to mine was David, the same kid from the bed next to mine.

Family birthdays

My Mum has been married twice. My Dad and his brother were both born on 14th March, several years apart. And my stepfather and his brother were both born on 6th March, a few years apart!

Jury service

While a student, I was on the electoral roll in two places - my permanent home and at university. I was summoned for Jury Service in both towns on the same date. Also, when I arrived at one, one if the other jurors had the same name as me. Presumably all down to the computer software used to select jurors? Or just coincidence?

Always say nice things, you never know...

I had just seen a wonderful play featuring Derek Jacobi at the Theatre Royal, Bath. Next day I was waiting in a line at the till at Waterstones in the high street, declaiming to my girlfriend how wonderful he had been and how I wished I had stayed to get his autograph. I turned round after paying for my book, and he was standing there next in the queue! I am so glad I had been saying nice things. And I got his autograph!

sinking feeling

I grew up in Poole, Dorset as a young boy & one of the clearest newspaper stories, which made front news headlines, that I remember from that time is of a Leicestershire couple who were on holiday & inadvertently managed to drive their car into Poole Harbour but escaped uninjured with only their pride in tatters. Some years later, I was recalling this story with my wife & it turned out to be her mother & step father.

whats in a name

my name is J ohn my youngest daughter's name is O livia my wife's name is H elen my eldest daughter's name is N atalie

A chance meeting on holiday

We lived in Ely in Cambridgeshire and went on holiday to Interlaken in Switzerland. One fine day we are walking down the street, and I see a class mate and her family walking towards me, so said "hello" much to their surprise too. Not just a coincidence of place but of timing too, a few more seconds and we'd have turned off and never known they were even in the same town.

When a wrong number turned out to be the right number

When I was a child, my brother's friend Iain was at our house. The phone rang and the caller asked to speak to Iain. It wasn't anyone who we knew and it turned out that he had actually tried to call Iain's home number, mis-dialled it and reached us. (We had a similar phone number.)

A chance to say thanks & goodbye

When I studied English at Worcester University my lecturer was a Mike B. He had a great style of teaching and everyone was very amused by his wry comments and sense of humour, so much so that some of his observations became a part of my character too. I told my wife this when we went on our honeymoon to Portugal some ten years later. The last weekend of the holiday we drove in our hire car down to Lisbon, and found a hotel on spec (no planning at all, it just looked nice). The next morning we went down for breakfast at 8am.

Meeting a Celebrity

A few years ago, my wife and I attended a play at the Mill at Sonning, where we go only every few years. Geoffrey Palmer appeared in the play. The very next morning I had to go to London by train, again something I rarely do. Ascending the escalator at Waterloo, I passed Geoffrey Palmer coming down the other side.

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