’10-33′ 2012: A Collection of Stories

In 2011 we launched a 12 month campaign to collect true stories of chance and coincidence.  These stories became the starting point for our 2012 show: ’10-33′.  Below you can read the collection of stories sent in by the public.

The Letter

I found this in January this year.  I’d just gone through a major break up with my ex-partner, and was living life day to day, but hadn’t felt ‘happy’ in a  long time.  I was walking through the Finchley Road underpass one morning, when I found this piece of paper.  I’m not religious, but the advice was good.  I took it.  Folded it up in my wallet, and carried it around in my wallet over the course of the next few months as I began to make drastic changes to my life.  6 months later, when everything was different, and better than I could ever have imagined, I found this, and remembered the day I found it; the day I decided to turn things around.  Having done my research now, I have found out that this is the Serendipity Prayer in Christianity; but has since been adopted b y Alcoholics Anonomous.   It quite literally blew in to my pathway that day, like a sign and yet it’s odd to think that the person that wrote these words will never realise just how much they changed my way of thinking.

Anon, London

The Centre of my Universe

I went travelling with my best friend when we both finished Uni. 
We’d been best friends for 12 years, seen each other through pretty
much everything you can up until that point. We began the trip with 2
other girls and as the weeks went on, it whittled down to just the two
of us, cruising New Zealand in a hired car. We took a helicopter to
the top of a mountain, stayed in a log cabin, (part) climbed a glacier
(that was shaped like a vagina), I dived into a glacial lake and got
diarrhea, (she told me I was an idiot whilst bathing my overheated
brow) and we both idiotically (and pretty courageously) sky dived and
did a 400ft bungee jump – in the same day. By the time we reached
Auckland we’d done everything. Except each other... :)
I have no idea what happened, but one night, we got ridiculously
hammered and literally fell through our YMCA twin-dorm door, onto the
crusty, (yet welcoming), carpet, in between our single beds. I dared
her to kiss me…and she did…and in that moment, it was definitely
like the Universe was moving just for us. She’s the only woman
I’ve ever been in love with and it felt like she was the centre of
my universe in that moment and for our 18months together, after. 
We’ve gone our separate ways now, but she’ll always be one of the
best women I know.
Anon N.London

The Other Side of the World

This happened several year back when I was travelling in Indonesia.  I’d decided to leave home and travel for 9 months, before settling down to marry my husband.  I took some work in Indonesia for a little while, just helping out at a local bar to try and save up a bit of money before moving on.  One day, whilst in town picking up supplies for the bar, I met an English girl in a cafe, where I’d stopped off for a drink.  We got chatting, I mentioned that the bar that I worked in may be looking for more staff…she decided she’s try her chances.  We got chatting on the way back, and were amazed to find out that we both lived in Golders Green, North London.  Not only that in the same area…and as we chatted more we realised we were from the same street, just a few houses apart.  We could scarce believe this bizarre coincidence.  She didn’t end up working at the bar.  But we stayed in touch for some years after that.  It’s bizarre how a small Indonesian town could attract two people that had live their entire lives a few doors away from each other on the same north London street…yet had never met!

R. Brauner, North London

The Feeling

Recently I’d gone to Warwick to work for the weekend.  I was supposed to return to London after work on the Sunday evening.  For about a week I’d had a bit of an odd feeling about going back on the Sunday night.  I kept on telling people I’d be back on the Sunday, but felt a little bit strange about it.  In the end I booked a train back for 1st thing on Monday morning.  I felt much happier about this.

Surprisingly there were no stories of train crashes, my house hadn’t burned down, there were no stories of abductions in North London…

About a week later I spoke to my housemate, and told her of the odd feeling I’d had about coming home on that Sunday evening, and how I’d felt physically sick and nervous every time I’d thought of it.  She looked at me in disbelief and revealed that she’s experienced the exact same feeling!  It had been so strong she’d ended up staying at her boyfriends.  She had in fact put her coat on and was about to leave his house, when she made the decision not to go home.

It made me wonder…would something have happened if we’d returned to the house?

Or perhaps living together had made us more aware to each others feelings? Despite being in different parts of the country…perhaps there was no danger, but we made each other feel this way.

Or perhaps it was nothing other than pure coincidence.

“In reality, the most astonishingly incredible coincidence imaginable would be the complete absence of all coincidence.” -Professor John Allen Paulos

The Scratchcard

Some years ago, I was attending a psychotherapy training course. The course took place over one weekend each month. Course fees had to be paid. Most months, money was a bit tight, but somehow I managed to scrape it together. Then one month, I just didn’t have enough.  Well, I just didn’t have any! What was I to do? If I didn’t attend, I would still have to pay the fee when I went the next month, meaning I would have to find two month’s money, and I would have missed a weekend of training. And I would have missed a weekend with a group of people I had grown very close to. I really, really, wanted to go! But how could I, without the money to pay for it? I needed a bit over £100.00.

On the Friday afternoon I was in the local shop, and I remembered that someone I knew had won £50,000 on a lottery scratchcard. On an impulse I bought one. £100.00 prize. Perfect. A small enough prize so that I could claim it straight away. And on Saturday morning I paid my course fees.

KF, Oxfordshire

A Free Ride

This happened some years back.  It was on my first day of university.

I went to a University in the countryside.  It really was beautiful.

It was also well hidden, and on my very first day, I couldn’t find the pathway that led up to the campus.  It was getting late, and I was terrified enough as it was; not wanting to add the pressure of missing the start of my first lecture.  I didn’t know what to do.  There was no one around to ask for directions (plus I was SO shy, that I found asking strangers for directions a terrifying prospect).  After much wandering back and forwards, not quite knowing where I was going, a to minute walk from the nearest town, I sat down on a rock and began to have a mild panic.

It was in the days before mobile phones, so I couldn’t even call anyone for help.  I put my head in my hands, and began desperately plotting the best thing to do.  I heard a car pull up.  I snapped my head up, to see a taxi parked up in front of me.

“You okay?”  Asked the driver, leaning across to shout out the passenger window.

“Oh, yes…well…I…”  (I really was terrible at talking to strangers.)

“Want a lift somewhere?”

“I’m trying to get to the university.  It’s my first day, you see, and I’m lost.”

“Oh!  You’re miles away.  Hop in.  I’ll take you.  it’s only five minutes.”

With no other choice I jumped in to the passenger seat.  I opened my bag to find my purse.  I went hot as I realised; it wasn’t in there.  I must have left it at home.

“Erm…I don’t have my money,”  I pretty much whispered to the driver.

“Lucky I don’t want any.”  He laughed.  “Can’t have you being late on your first day.”

It was his kindness twinned with the stress of my first day, that set me off weeping.  Not awkward, loud crying, but you know the kind when tears just sort of slide out of the corners of your eyes, and there’s nothing you can do to stop them?

Well, for the whole drive up, he gave me a pep-talk about how I was going to be fine; university would be the best days of my life and so on and so forth.  He was a funny bloke, and by the time we got to the end of the drive, I was borderline hysterical with laughter.

I told him I’d bring him some money the following day.  He refused; said the ride was my good luck gift for my first day at uni.  I went in to my first lecture with a massive grin thanks to him.

I had the best three years, in which I learnt many useful and some not so useful things; most importantly I conquered my fear of talking to strangers.

I saw that taxi driver pretty much every day of my university career; he was alway parked in the taxi rank at the train station (which I discovered was the shortcut to the pathway to the campus)  He’d always smile and wave; for the whole three years.  I’ll never forget him; and his kindness that day was an act I’ll never forget.

Susie, Greenwich


Bricks and Mortar, a premonition tale…

I think this qualifies for bizarre:

a few years back my mother ran my aunt to tell her of a weird dream she’d had. In it she was in the back garden, stacking bricks. With a trowel in one hand she was knocking off mortar and then stacking them.

It was an odd dream some how more real than most.

She and my aunt are close and share an unspoken sort of short hand between them so she rang her to ask what did she think. In reply my aunt asked, ‘Is the house insured’? If not insure it today.

As funds were at low tide my mother did not do as suggested.

Six weeks passed and she phoned my aunt again, this time at 5.35 am. She had been awoken by a mighty noise and looked out of her bedroom window for the cause of the rumpus. She was appalled to see that a large section of her 6 ft high brick wall had collapsed out into the street, onto the pavement and the bus stop. The first bus arrives shortly before 6am and from 5.45 people start to queue up.

Someone had had a narrow escape. 10 minutes later and it would have been another story.

The coda of this tale is that funds were still low and some months later a friend of my mothers said her husband would brick the wall back up for her – if she prepared the bricks. So there she was in the garden, trowel in hand, brick in the other knocking off the mortar and stacking bricks. This is bizarre but true!

Jacob A, Greater London

The Decision made for me…

I live in Catford and have done for most of my life.  I live in the flat I grew up in.  There’s always been a quick changeover in residents in the houses surrounding my own, and I’ve never really got to know any of my neighbours at all.  Except for this one time.  A lady and her little girl had moved in to the apartment above mine.  I’d seen them around a few times and smiled and said hello, but never anything more.  They must have been there a few months when she came downstairs, really upset and asked to use my phone.  Of course I let her.  I noticed she had left suitcases packed and left out on the hallway.  I asked if she was okay.  She said that a friend of a friend had been letting her stay in the house, while she’d worked to save money up to get her own deposit on a house; but he’d suddenly had interest from a paying resident…so kicked her out just like that.

Then I did something strange.  Really strange.  “Live with me!”  I said.  I could hardly believe it.  I was surprised at my own generosity.

“No, we can’t.  But thank you.”  She said.

Suddenly it seemed to make a lot of sense though.  I had a spare room.  Even if it was only for a few nights.  It would help her out.

She ended up agreeing to stay the night.  Six months later she moved out and got her own place just down the road, and I got her a new job at the school where I work.  We are firm friends.

I was always shocked at my own generosity.  I often believe that we meet people we are supposed to meet.  People that will make our lives better.  This was definitely the case.  Had I not have met Ayo and her daughter, I would not have spent a happy six months living with them, having made a friend for life, and she would not have had a place to stay.  My mad decision made in a moment changed a lot.  And I wouldn’t change it back.

Jaquelin, Catford

Diamonds are forever…

I was 17 when Steve proposed to me.

We went to Hatton Garden in London to buy an engagement ring. We kept it in Steve’s mum and dad’s kitchen cupboard until we had plucked up enough courage to tell my parents that we were going to get married  … it took 4 months for us to tell them!

Every time I went to Steve’s house before we had told my parents our intentions, I would take my beautiful engagement ring out of the cupboard and put it on. It was 18ct gold with a single diamond about 3 mm in diameter.

Once   we were married when I was 19, I always wore it and never took it off.

One day about 15 years later I was walking up the road to collect the children from school and, just as I had reached the top of the hill about 100m from my friend’s house , I don’t to this day know why, but something made me look at the  ring on my finger. My diamond was gone – I was so upset as it meant so much to me and I couldn’t afford to replace it.

I picked up the children from  school and on the way back I saw my friend outside her house, I told her I had lost my diamond but didn’t know when or where,  but said I had first realised it was missing just up the road from her house.

That night I had a phone call from my friend she told me her 2 children had gone out in the street and found my diamond in the road by their house. It was so tiny and I could have lost it anywhere.

I had another friend whose husband was a jeweller and he fixed it for nothing for me!  How lucky was I?

G. Taylor– Knowle Solihull