What is the strangest coincidence that has ever happened to you?
There are all sorts that have happened to me – like the time I stepped out of a lift in Hong Kong to come face to face with a neighbour from up the street and we both just said hi and walked past as we would normally do in the street at home and then stopped and laughed and realised we weren’t at home at all.
Coincidences are a kind of magic thrown into life to brighten up the boring predictability of things. It would be very dull indeed if events only happened that we expected or that other people had planned.
I think, in terms of statistical improbability, that the weirdest one that happened to me was about 12 years ago, not long after we moved here.
When the boys were little we lived in Aberystwyth, about 300 miles to the west of here. During University term time we had a student who we employed for babysitting for several hours a week. Her name was Sarah and she was lovely. She came originally from Durham and at the end of her course she went back there and we lost touch with her.
Fast forward five years or so and we had deserted Aberystwyth for Norwich. Harry and Jack were at the little first school which is about two minutes walk from our house. One day Harry came home to say they had a trainee teacher in the classroom who said that she knew him when he was a baby. I thought this was a case of mistaken identity as we hadn’t lived in Norwich when Harry was a baby. Imagine my surprise when I went to school the next day and found out that it was our old babysitter, Sarah, last seen in Aberystwyth, native to Durham who was the trainee in the classroom in Norwich.
So strange! She had no idea we had moved here so had been equally surprised to recognise the children’s names the previous day. How can this have happened? What are the chances? She had no connections with Norwich, had just chosen it because it was a course that appealed to her and a city in which she fancied studying, but there are so many other towns and cities where she could have done teacher training. And even in Norwich there are a large number of primary schools where she could have done her placement.
It was so good to see her again. It felt like a little bit of Aberystwyth had followed us and sprung out at us when we least expected it. We have since lost touch with her again but I do wonder if, in another 10 years, I’ll be walking along a street somewhere on the other side of the world and see her coming towards me.