Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

answering the phone

Some 20 odd years ago my daughter was studying at Plymouth Polytechnic as it was then. A long way from home she would ring home from a call box for a family chat I would ask her for the number she was ringing from and ring her back, as this was cheaper. So I had a short list of numbers she had rung from by my phone at home. I was filling in a form about her Council grant and needed to ask her a question, so I went to the last phone number I had from her and rang it.

9/11 picture found in book at same time of action.

While on a canal boat holiday, we reached Bath at the exact time of the Twin Towers disaster and watched it on the portable TV. Having moored the boat, I went into the town to look round. I came across a bookshop, and being interested in computers, picked out a fairly thick book on the subject. The very first page I opened (about halfway through) chilled me to the bone. The subject was computing chance, and there was a line drawing of a skyscraper, with an airliner heading straight for it from the left hand side. I was so shaken that I called another customer over to show him the picture.

Meeting across the world

I went on a voluntary service 3 week trip to Tanzania with an American charity (I'm British and lived in Hampshire at the time). In the small group were a family (parents and teenage daughter) from Michigan, US. At the end of the trip we all parted without exchanging addresses, since we had all got on OK but hadn't really gelled. The following summer, I was on holiday in a tiny village in Scotland and I bumped into this family walking down the street.

The West Indies coincidence

It is my husband's coincidence, not mine. My husband was stationed in the West Indies when in the airforce in the 1960s. He was billeted in a hotel owned by a family with several children, the youngest of whom was about 9. After leaving the airforce in the early 70s he went to teacher training college as a mature student where he met me and another student who was to become his best friend. Some years later, when arranging a visit to come to stay with us the aforesaid best friend said he was bringing his new girlfriend (later to be his wife).

Was this God sent?

Ten years ago at the age of fifty I decided to become confirmed in the Christian faith. I didn't have a bible so went to buy one. Whilst on the way to town my husband and I passed a bric a brac shop we'd never been in before and decided to have a look in. Whilst in there I spotted a really nice bible in good condition so thought I'd buy it. When I went to enquire about the price the man said he couldn't sell it to me, I was disappointed but that was that.

Three at a time?

I grew up and went to school in Northumberland, in the north of England. At school, I was good friends with two girls, Debbie and Morag, who were best friends with each other. I didn't keep in contact with either when I left school and went to University, in Brighton, at the opposite end of the country. Four years later, I started a job in Kingston-upon-Thames, on the west side of London and over 200 miles away from Northumberland, and had forgotten completely about these two girls. One day, after work, I popped into Sainsbury's in Kingston to get some shopping done.

Twins coincidence

My wife was looking after the driving school office where I worked while the boss was on holiday. She signed on a new young woman pupil who I trained. The fact of my wife's pregnancy encouraged the pupil to knit a blanket for the expected baby and commented that the previous mother-to-be for who m she knitted another blanket had produced twins. Shortly after that my wife discovered that she was also expecting twins, although the doctor had previously only commented that "it would be a large baby".

Dad and 13

My late father, the opera singer Gordon Parfitt, was the 13th child of a Welsh mining family born on April 13th 1913. sadly he died the year I was born in 1953 aged 40, but the number and its multiples has always been seen as significant to us,

Talk of the singer

One evening in the late 1980s I was in a pub in Soho with some friends. One couple had been listening to the Undertones in the car earlier and she was talking about how much she hated Feargal Sharkey's voice. As she said this Feargal Sharkey came in to the pub.

Bike Story

I live in Chorlton, Manchester. I popped into a local newsagent to get a paper one day, parking my cycle outside the shop, neglecting to lock it up as it was only a 30 second trip. On returning the bike had gone. I looked around then borrowed a friend's bike for a better search, to no avail. I went home and called the police to report the theft. They wanted the frame number, which I hadn't recorded, so I rang the bike shop where the bike was purchased, 4 miles away in Rusholme, to see if they had the detail.