Wrong number was for me

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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.

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In the Summer of 1975, I was shopping in Sutton, Surrey around noon and had parked my motorcycle in a bay in Throwley Way. There was a telephone box on the pavement and on my return the phone was ringing. I thought I would answer it and tell the caller that they must have a wrong number as it was a call box, otherwise they would think the call had gone unanswered. When I answered the call, a voice said “Hello Andrew, can I speak to your mum”. I thought this a coincidence of names and said you must have mis-dialed because this was a phone box in Sutton high street. The caller said “Don’t mess about, I am at Victoria Station and have just arrived from Ireland and only have one more 10p coin, just put your mum on the phone, it’s your cousin Maria come to visit”. I looked around, thinking she must be playing a joke on me, perhaps she had seen me arrive and had called the phone box when I got back to my bike but Throwley Way is wide, there were no houses or other phone box nearby. I said “where are you” and she said “Victoria!”. I said I was in a phone box and held the door open hoping she could hear cars pass by but the traffic was light. I now believed she was in Victoria and after trying to explain I gave up. I said I was going to hang up and she will have to call my house again. She was not amused but later, when I got home, my mother said Maria had called and said she was annoyed with me but my mother confirmed to her I was not at home and had gone to Sutton. My phone number at the time was outside the 01 area and the phone box was inside. I did see that the box had the same last four digits as my home phone but a different dialing code. The phone box is still there, I keep meaning to stop to see if the number is still the same.
Total votes: 156
Date submitted:Fri, 16 Jul 2021 12:13:30 +0000Coincidence ID:11422