RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Imagine, if you will, the following scenario. A man moves to a new town. He doesn't know his new neighbors, but he finds that, strangely, they seem to know him. Everywhere he goes, people smile and greet him by name, but not his name - someone else's. That man is Neil Richardson, and although he is not John Jemison, many in the town of Braintree in southeast England have mistaken him for John. After months of being confused for one another, the two men finally came face-to-face last week. They join us to talk about meeting a stranger with a face they've known their whole life. Thanks to both of you for being with us.
NEIL RICHARDSON: Hello.
JOHN JEMISON: Hello.
MARTIN: So how did this happen? Did you - when you saw each other, did you recognize one another immediately?
RICHARDSON: Well - Neil speaking - no. When I saw John, I was surprised at how different to me he looked. From my point of view, he's not at all - doesn't look like me at all, but other people think he's my twin. So I don't how you understand that.
MARTIN: Are you serious? Because I have seen a picture of you two, and it's uncanny. I mean, the resemblance really is striking. John, did - was it the same for you? Did you think, oh, yeah, I don't look anything like this guy?
JEMISON: I can see that there are similarities. But I'm also very, very aware of the differences. I'm a lot better looking than he is, for instance.
MARTIN: (Laughter). Neil, what are you to make of that?
RICHARDSON: I concede to be.
MARTIN: So let's talk about how this all this happened. You were living in the same town, as we mentioned. When did each of you start hearing that you had a doppelganger?
RICHARDSON: Well, it started with me, Neil. I moved to Braintree in September 2013 after I retired. I walked through the streets and was really surprised at how many people waved to me and said hello, John. Hello, John. And someone came up to me in the local cafe and said you're John Jemison, aren't you? And then, the British Library's got an exhibition on Magna Carta. And we both signed up for it not knowing the other one had. And it was while we were on the coach waiting to get going that I heard someone say hello, John, hello, Mr. Jemison.
JEMISON: At that point, Neil said to me, you must be John Jemison. And I said yes I am. What have I done now?
JEMISON: And once we'd met, we then started sort of swapping life stories. And that's when the really spooky bit happened when we found that there were so many similarities in our lives. We both went to the same teacher training college. We both trained and started teaching religious education as the first part of our careers.
MARTIN: Do you like each other? Do have similar personalities?
RICHARDSON: Yeah. Very much. We just immediately talked the same language. You know, we had the same attitudes, same views.
JEMISON: We both sing. We both write. Uncanny.
RICHARDSON: And we both got sons who play the didgeridoo.
JEMISON: Yeah, how about that?
MARTIN: Now you guys are just making things up at this point.
RICHARDSON: No, no. It's true.
JEMISON: No, no, it's true.
MARTIN: Is there any chance you two are related?
RICHARDSON: We don't think so. This is Neil speaking. There's no possibility. We don't have any regional backgrounds, similarity of backgrounds. We've got no cousins or anything. We don't know anything about each other's backgrounds whatsoever.
MARTIN: I mean, how do you make sense of this then?
JEMISON: It's - what's the word? There are many things in this world, Horatio, isn't it? I haven't got the exact right, but I mean, you know - there are all sorts of things.
RICHARDSON: There's more to Heaven and Earth than in your philosophy, Horatio.
JEMISON: Yeah, that's it.
RICHARDSON: "Hamlet," scene one.
MARTIN: Well, Neil Richardson and John Jemison of Braintree, Essex. Thanks so much for talking with us you two.
RICHARDSON: Thank you.
JEMISON: Thank you very much indeed.
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