Series of Coincidences

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was produced by the Winton programme for the public understanding of risk based in the Statistical Laboratory in the University of Cambridge. The aim was to help improve the way that uncertainty and risk are discussed in society, and show how probability and statistics can be both useful and entertaining.

Many of the animations were produced using Flash and will no longer work.

Story 1 In my early 20s I moved from the Midlands to London for a job in a city of 9 million people, I normally took the tube, but there was a problem with the tube on that day, and as there was no direct bus route home, I took the first bus going in the general direction and in those days they had an open back, so if the bus turned off from where I wanted to be going I would simply jump off the back and find another bus going in the right direction. On one change, I misjudged the speed of the bus as I jumped off and ended up running down the pavement headlong into this guy, when we picked ourselves up off the pavement, I looked at him and said "Hello Robbo" it was a guy I had gone to school with. Story 2a When I was living in London I kept a water ski boat in Poole and went there most weekends in the summer, one weekend nobody else could make it, so I went by myself, I took the boat out to a pontoon used by skiers in the harbour and asked the three guys on it if someone would drive my boat so I could have a ski, one of the guys said yes and I had a ski, later in the day my engine failed and I decided to haul the boat back to the Midlands as I had nowhere to store it in London, not having anything to do on the Sunday, I went to the local water ski club, and was standing on the jetty, when a guy came in ending his ski right in front of me, it was the guy who had driven my boat for me the day before 175 miles away in Poole and the other two were in the ski boat. Story 2b A year or so later still in London we had a temporary Australian worker in the office who was travelling Europe and his nan who he was living with worked at Wembley stadium. It was the year of Live Aid and they needed volunteer bar staff, the deal was if we worked at the bar for an hour we got into the concert for free, the tickets were like gold dust so it was a no brainer. On the day of the concert we arrived early, were allocated to a bar (one of many at the stadium) the bar was at least 20 feet long and had 8 or more serving stations. When my hour came around I went to the bar, and because it was so busy we would pre pour pints while the artist was on so we could serve as quickly as possible in the breaks, the queue for each serving station was at least ten deep if not more, guess who I served a beer to, only the three guys that had been on the pontoon in Poole. Story 3a I worked in Japan for 2 years and had seen the Toyota Land Cruiser in Tokyo, on returning to the UK I decided to buy one, hardly anyone had one in those days. My mum had met a guy and he had moved in with her, but she had made him buy a flat locally in case it didn’t work out, the flat was empty and so on return from Japan I moved in to it. One day an American guy who lived in the same block commented on my Land Cruiser, it turned out that he had been assigned to Toyota in the UK as he spoke Japanese, and I mentioned I had lived in Japan. At Xmas he invited me to his flat to have drinks with him and his girlfriend, It turns out he only had one friend who he had also invited, we were just introduced by first names, in the small talk I mentioned I got married in Jamaica, and his friend asked why, I said because I lived there as a kid (for a just over a year) he wanted more info and I said I went to the American school. He looked me straight int the eyes and said you are Richard W+++++!. Not only did he have a fantastic memory for names but we had played together in the sandpit during school breaks. Story 3b I used to go the CeBIT exhibition in Hannover Germany, and when I came back from Japan, I decided to go to see what the latest technology was, but I needed to minimise cost, so I decided to drive there and sleep in the back of my Land Cruiser, when I got to Hannover it seems a lot of other people had decided on the same solution and all the normal car parking spaces were taken, I drove around and around and couldn’t find anywhere for the night, so I decided to go out of town and found a rural road, I turned off the road into a gate to a field to see if it would be suitable, I could tell it wasn’t as it was so muddy and two other Land Cruisers had had the same idea and were in the process of extracting themselves from the mud with a winch. Not only were they also British registered vehicles, but my registration was H51 VNV, and they were H52 VNV and H53 VNV. All this in the days before cell phones, and the internet.
Total votes: 200
Date submitted:Wed, 14 Jul 2021 22:02:49 +0000Coincidence ID:11406