In his last book, ‘The Roots of Coincidence’, Arthur Koestler maintained that, if we could harness the power behind coincidences, it would be more powerful than nuclear.
One example he gives concerns Mrs Robinson who turns up at her local police station to report her handbag missing. Constable Jenkins takes the details and gives her the station number to get in touch with him. A few days later Jenkins is on nights and around nine he’s walking past a factory when he sees a light on and goes to investigate. As he goes into the office where a light has been left on, the phone rings. He lifts the phone:
Oh, hello. Is that Constable Jenkins?
Oh, hello, Constable. I thought I’d better call to say I’ve found my handbag. Silly of me I know but I found it in my next door neighbour’s garage of all places.
But … I’m not at the station. I’m in a factory.
Really? Oh well .. I must have dialled the wrong number.
‘Nexus’ magazine last Spring featured other remarkable coincidences.
Childhood Book Discovery
While American novelist Anne Parrish was browsing bookstores in Paris in the 1920’s, she came upon a book that was one of her childhood favourites: ‘Jack Frost and Other Stories’. She picked up the old book and showed it to her husband, telling him of the book she fondly remembered as a child. Her husband took the book, opened it, and on the flyleaf he found the inscription ‘Anne Parrish, 209 N Weber Street, Colorado Springs’. It was Anne’s very own book.
In 1858, Robert Fallon was shot dead – an act of vengeance by those with whom he was playing poker. Fallon, they claimed, had won the $600 pot through cheating. With Fallon’s seat empty and none of the other players willing to take the now unlucky $600, they found a new player to take Fallon’s place and staked him with the dead man’s $600.
By the time the police arrived to investigate the killing, the new player had turned the $600 into $2,200 in winnings. The police demanded the original $600 to pass on to Fallon’s next of kin – only to discover that the new player turned out to be Fallon’s son, who had not seen his father in seven years.
In 2002, seventy year old twin brothers died within hours of one another after separate accidents on the same road in northern Finland.
The first of the twins died when he was hit by a lorry while riding his bike in Raahe, 600 kilometres north of the capital, Helsinki. He died just 1.4 km from the spot where his brother was killed.
‘This is simply a historic coincidence. Although the road is a busy one, accidents don’t occur every day’, police officer Marja-Leena Huhtala told Reuters. ‘It made my hair stand on end when I heard the two were brothers, and identical twins at that. It came to mind that perhaps someone from upstairs had a say in this’, she said.’
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Unemployment figures released last week show that it has hit its highest number since 1994. And guess who was in power then. I remember years ago a letter in the Yorkshire Evening Post from a man who remembered his father’s words: ‘Whenever the Tories get in, unemployment goes up. They want two people going for every job so the wages go down’.