online: 14 january 2006
modified: 15 december 2005, 11, 14 january 2006

4 december 2005 a coincidence

14:36 in a long distance bus in a traffic queue before getting to the motorway... We've moved about a kilometre in an hour and there is still a long queue of tail-lights ahead, this Sunday afternoon...

...while at the bus station i was talking with a man next to me and asked if he was a farmer (as he looked like one)... People often ask me that, he said. He told me he had been a gardener for 55 years since he began at 14. I asked when that was and he said it was in 1941. I realised that i also had been 14 in '41... We soon found that we were both born on 7 october 1927! I don't think i've ever knowingly met someone with the same birthday though the probability of doing so may be quite high...

I remember that there are almost certain to be two people with the same birthday in a group of 30-40... but that is not the same thing... this is the probability of one particular person having the same birthday as someone else... what is the number of people among whom this coincidence is almost certain to occur?... i guess it's not dozens, but thousands, but i can't remember how to calculate it... however i do know that, among people chosen randomly, it is one in 365.

When we discovered that we're 'almost twins' he told this to the wedding party he was with and i was welcomed like a member of the family... with much laughter and animated talk... one of them gave me a piece of chocolate!... when their bus came we waved goodbye like relatives... they were returning to Yorkshire and i was returning to Wales.

15.15 ...and now (still in the bus) we've reached the end of the traffic queue and are at last moving fast on the motorway... in the strong light of the setting sun low over the rooftops...

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