What a coincidence


Or something else....

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Most of us have experienced small coincidences in our lives, whether it is discovering a mutual friend or – like our Head of Communications and Investor Relations, Cal Bull Edwards – randomly bumping into a business colleague while on holiday.

‘I could see this man while we were by the pool in Cape Verde and I just knew I recognised hi, but I didn’t know where from.’

You say potato…

When Cal got to talk to the man a short while later she recognised his Yorkshire accent and immediately realised that he ran the farm that provides Parsley Box with all its potatoes.

‘I’d met him not long before I went away and spent quite a lot of time with him so he was very familiar. But I certainly didn’t expect to see him while on an island in the Atlantic Ocean!’

There are few people who can’t tell stories of those strange “would you believe it” types of coincidences but then you have those ‘oh goodness, is there another dimension at work?’ occasions.

History tells a story

History is littered with such examples. Such as a novel about the sinking of a ship with detail almost identical to the real events of the sinking of the Titanic, to Anthony Hopkins coming across a book he’d been desperately searching for while sitting in a London tube station.

Anthony Hopkins believes there were powers at work when he came across a book he'd been looking for at a railway station
What a coincidence – Anthony Hopkins finds a book he’s been searching for at a railway station

But are these events just random or do they have a pattern behind them?  Are those prophetic incidences really predictions of the future or just your imagination coming up with possible scenarios?

Hidden affinities

Both fate and coincidence have given rise to a whole range of theories including Hippocrates, the father of medicine who believed all components of the universe are linked by “hidden affinities.” In other words, he believed there were laws that explained everything, we just didn’t know them yet.

There is no such thing as chance; and what seems to us merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny.

However, there are many factually documented incidents which seem to defy these theories.

Carl Jung

Mark Twain’s cosmic coincidences

Such as the fact Mark Twain was born in 1835, the same year that Halley’s Comet made its first appearance, and died the year of its second appearance in 1910. Perhaps not that unusual other than the author famously predicted the two events will collide. He is quoted that the ‘Almighty’ had said: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together so they must go out together.’

Genius united

Another example of important dates is the fact that theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, shares his birth and death dates with Galileo and Einstein, respectively.

Stephen Hawking was born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death and died on what would have been Einstein’s 139th birthday.

A novel occasion

Perhaps a more useful coincidence for the person involved was in the early 1970s when Anthony Hopkins was due to play a part in a film based on a novel. He set out to read the book but couldn’t find a copy anywhere. Then, while sitting in a London Tube station, he noticed a book someone had left behind. Not only was it the book he wanted, but it had also been signed by its author.

Triple shipwreck

It would be considered luck that one woman survived one shipwreck – but three?

Violet Jessop was a nurse and ocean liner stewardess who survived both the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and its sister ship, the HMHS Britannic, which met the same fate in 1916. Jessup was also reportedly on board a third boat, the RMS Olympic, when it hit a war ship—but fortunately, the Olympic stayed afloat.

Violet Jessop survived the sinking of the Titanic – plus two other ships

Sinking feelings

On the subject of shipwrecks, when Robert Morgan wrote his novel, The Wreck of the Titan, Or Futility in 1898, it was as if he was predicting how the Titanic would sink 14 years later.  There are some strange similarities between the book and what happened. Other than the ships’ names being similar, they were both described as “unsinkable,” both ran into trouble after hitting icebergs on the starboard side of the ship – and were both at the same spot 400 miles off Newfoundland when they sank, on April nights. In both cases the casualties were tragically high because of a lack of lifeboats.

Uncanny similarities

In  2001, a 10-year-old girl wrote her name on a balloon and asked the finder to send it back to her. She wrote: ‘Please return to Laura Buxton,’ along with her address. She then released it into a strong wind.

The balloon travelled roughly 140 miles south before descending, and finally landed in the yard of another 10-year-old girl. The second girl’s name? Also Laura Buxton! After getting in touch and explaining the coincidence, the girls decided to meet, and discovered a whole range of uncanny similarities. Not only did they look and dress alike, but both girls had three-year-old chocolate labs, a grey rabbit, and a guinea pig, and both had brought their guinea pigs to the meeting, unplanned.

Twin peaks

Twins and coincidences seem to go hand-in-hand. When two boys were separated at birth and raised by different families, they finally met at the age of 39. Both sets of adopted parents named the boys James and called them “Jim”. They both married twice – and both first wives were called Linda, the second wives both named Betty. If not coincidence enough, both had one son, who they each named James Allen and even had the same cars!

However, there still exists the desire to explain these eventualities as nothing more than ‘coincidence.’

Magical patterns

Neurobiologists have discovered that when there’s an increase of dopamine in the brain, we are more likely to see patterns and seek out meaning in situations where they might be none.

As for Cal, she’s not so sure.

It was strange being that far from home and seeing someone I’d recently spent time with.

Cal Bull-edwards

Her fascination with coincidence was further flamed when, on the same holiday, she found out a former colleague was staying in the same hotel.

‘A mutual connection had told me that he was there, but I didn’t bump into him until on the last day we’d unknowingly booked onto the same tourist trip.’

So, are we just hoping for a bit of magic in our lives, or is there more to chance happenings than we know?

What are your experiences of strange coincidences? Why not tell us your stories by getting in touch – just click through the link below.