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Carl Jung had quite a lot to say about coincidence. He developed the concept of synchronicity to describe coincidences that happen at the same time instead of sequentially.

He firmly believed, though, that ordinary coincidence, the one we’re all familiar with, was as powerful an underlying law of nature as that of gravity. He was a bit ahead of his time. Chaos theory has only been around about 50 years, so is in its infancy. Coincidentally Jung died in 1961, about the time chaos theory began to raise its head. Spooky or what? The thing is that chaos theorists are beginning to believe that even under the chaotic events that occur at quantum level, there are moments or areas of order.

All of which is a smartarse way of leading into my favourite coincidence stories. I guarantee you all these truly happened to me.

In 1971, the year I went to university, I had a brief dalliance with a girl called EY. It wasn’t anything big, just a bit of a snog and a grope at a party. She was moving the next day to Grimsby. Later that year, I turned up at Norwich station, a fresh faced first year undergrad about to embark on my life in academe. I climbed on a shuttle bus to the residence hall, and took the very last vacant seat. I got chatting to the guy next to me, the very first person I spoke to after arriving by train, and it turned out he was from Grimsby. Guess who his girlfriend turned out to be? Oh yes. Got it in one.

Another Norwich story. I was sharing a house in Norwich, and decided to go and see a very old friend from when I lived in Oldham. M and I had met within two days of starting infants school, and became firm, inseparable friends. He was at university in Sheffield, also sharing a house. Turns out that one of M’s housemates was the brother of one of the women sharing my house in Norwich.

Norwich again. When I graduated I got a job as a hospital porter while I decided what to do with my education. I once had to go to a ward to collect a patient, a Mr Charles Wiggett. The name is a bit unusual, but it was familiar to me. My father was in the RAF during the war, and one of his muckers had been a Charlie Wiggett, about whom my father told many tales, and whom I met occasionally when he came to visit. Luck would have it my father and Charlie trained together, and were stationed together in what was then Aden. They spent nearly all their service time together. Guess who my patient, Mr Charles Wiggett, was?

Last one, and again this spans continents. When Alison was young, she and her family lived in Jamaica for three years or so. They had a housemaid/nanny called Myrtle. Fast forward many years. Alison met some guy, G, in a chat room and discovered his family were originally from Jamaica but had moved to the UK in the early 60s. As luck would have it, G’s mother was Myrtle’s sister.

Eat your heart out, Carl Jung

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