The Weird World of Coincidence
What is a coincidence?
"The probability of a certain set of circumstances coming together in a meaningful (or tragic) way is so low that it simply cannot be considered mere coincidence.” V. C. King
When was the last time you experienced a coincidence? Unless it was recent or very odd circumstances, then chances are you won't remember all that much about it.
However, for hundreds of people every year, coincidences take on a whole new and weird perspective.
One definition of coincidence is taken from Dictionary.Com:
"a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time, apparently by mere chance."
Most dictionaries tend to have a similar definition and it is the ending - 'by mere chance' - that intrigues the most.
The following accounts are true stories of incidents that, by the dictionary definition, happened by 'mere chance'. After reading the following events they may leave you wondering if ‘chance’ had anything to do with it.
Time and space
Time And Space?
The following accounts show that in the weird world of coincidence, time and space either react in mysterious ways or are irrelevant.
Anne Parrish, American Novelist
In the 1920s the novelist was on a tour of Paris with her husband. They were enjoying a browse through one of the many antique book stores to be found in the city. Anne was delighted when she unexpectedly came across a book she had loved in childhood. She showed the book - "Jack Frost And Other Stories" - to her husband. They were both astonished when her husband opened the book and read on the inside cover: "Anne Parrish. 209 N. Weber Street, Colorado Springs." It was the very same book that Anne had cherished in her childhood days.
The Balloon Story
In Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, 10 year old Laura Buxton was visiting her grandparents who were celebrating their golden wedding anniversary.
On one of the balloons used in the celebrations Laura wrote a message giving her name, address and a request to send the balloon back if discovered. She then let the balloon go.
About ten days later, in Milton Lilbourne, Wiltshire a farmer noticed a balloon that had become tangled in one of his hedges. On removing it he read the message and the name - Laura Buxton. He proceeded to take the balloon to his nearest neighbour - whose daughter was called Laura Buxton. The farmer presuming it would belong to her. However, this was a different Laura Buxton and she lived more than 140 miles away from where the original Laura had released the balloon.
But the weird coincidences didn't stop there. The Wiltshire Laura promptly wrote to Laura in Staffordshire. Because of the extraordinary coincidences both girls' parents allowed them to meet.
The similarities between the girls are astonishing and are listed below:
- both girls were tall for their age and were of similar height
- both girls wore pink sweaters for the meeting with each other
- both girls had brown hair and wore it in similar styles
- both girls owned a black Labrador retriever and rabbits as pets.
The strange events leading to their meeting have led to both girls remaining friends to this day.
Was this friendship the result of just a balloon or were there other, more mysterious forces at work?
Erdington Village where two murders are linked in mysterious ways
Macabre Murder Coincidence
There is no doubt that most coincidences are intriguing perhaps even fun. However, there are others that are just down right creepy!
The Erdington Murders: (Erdington Village, Nr Birmingham, England)
Is there anything more disturbing or shocking than murder? Not usually. However, when you get two murders, over one hundred and fifty years apart, having similar details, then murder also becomes macabre!
The first murder victim was Mary Ashford. The body of the 20 year old was found in a sand pit, near the village of Erdington on 27th May, 1817. On the same date in 1975, Barbara Forrest's body was found.
Like Mary Ashford, Barbara had been sexually assaulted before being strangled. However, the similarities between the two girls did not end there:
- Both deaths occurred either on or within the hours of Whit Monday.
- Both women were aged 20 and unmarried.
- Comparisons between the facial features of both girls look similar.
- Both women had been left for dead by their attacker.
- Both of them had been to a local dance before their murders.
- The site where the bodies were discovered was within about 300 yards from each other, in Pype Hayes Park.
- Both women had last been seen on the date of 27th May.
- The suspected murderers both had the surname Thornton - Michael Thornton was accused of Barbara's murder and Abraham Thornton was suspected of Mary's murder.
- Both men stood trial but both were acquitted due to lack of evidence.
- Despite repeated attempts by criminologists, both crimes remain unsolved.
- It’s also alleged that both young women had premonitions about their death. Mary Ashford is claimed to have remarked to her friend's mother "I have bad feelings about the week to come ". Barbara Forrest is claimed to have said that "this is going to be my unlucky month. I don't why, I just know it.”
So what can we make of this bizarre situation? Is this simply a case of chance and nothing more? Or is there something much deeper and mysterious going on?
Pype Hayes Park
What's your thoughts on coincidence?
Do you believe that coincidences are just random events?
This has been just a glimpse into the weird world of coincidence. Nevertheless, there is enough here to give food for thought.
Is it the case that coincidence is just random events even although they are at times very odd? Do people have some part to play or are they mere pawns in an unfathomable, mysterious game?
One day we may find out the answers to these enigmas - if chance or fate allows us to do so!
© 2011 Helen Murphy Howell