Big Ben: Gratitude of a Nation

August 17, 2017 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , UK

Pedro Carballo photo



Hazel Speed


When many think of Great Britain, the United Kingdom, England and London especially, then probably the one symbol that encapsulates its very essence, just has to be the giant clock we all affectionately refer to as ‘Big Ben‘, which has four giant face sides and is situated aloft the Elizabeth Tower (formerly The Clock Tower/St Stephen’s Tower), part of the Estate of The Houses of Parliament.

This clock could not be silenced by the Luftwaffe during the blitz of World War II and its unique chimes are featured in countless films (see ‘The 39 Steps‘), and news broadcasts across National (and relayed internationally) radio and TV networks.

Remembrance Day (November), and New Year’s Eve, are occasions where the chimes of Big Ben join a grateful Nation. Firstly, in November as the Queen and members of the Royal Family, Chiefs of Staff, Existing and former Prime Ministers, Opposition Leaders, Church Leaders, Overseas Diplomats and Representatives, Widows and Families of fallen Service Personnel, surviving Retired Service Personnel, current members of Military Services and many more groups are all present at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, to ‘Muster’ at the stroke of 11am by Big Ben on the Sunday closest to Armistice Day –  to honour the sacrifices of the fallen in all wars, so that the current population can live in freedom.

Then Big Ben chimes at midnight on New Year’s Eve to herald in a New Year via its unique sound and echo, which the whole world recognises instantly from whichever part of the world they are listening via the facility of modern technology and live relay.

It is ‘time’ for Big Ben to be restored and cleaned.  However, it is apparently anticipated to take a few years to complete.  As Health and Safety do not wish to put the hearing of the workmen at risk, Big Ben is to be dismantled (hammers locked), apart from temporary reactivation on Remembrance Sunday and New Year’s Eve.  Otherwise, within media usage, historic recordings will be broadcast.  Live chimes are due to be halted on Monday 21st August 2017 at noon.

To provide workers with ear protectors, if Big Ben was kept operating during restoration works in general, could cost £500 per person (which may have integrated communications), and it has already been suggested it is better to keep Big Ben chiming and buy the necessary earphones.  Let us face it, they could always be used thereafter when required for maintenance purposes to the clock or Tower, so the money would not be wasted.

It is being proposed to install a lift (elevator) in the actual Tower as well, though all of these issues are to be discussed within the next Session of Parliament.

I recall when I was a young teenager, going on a tour of Big Ben and its interior workings were explained.  It was pointed out to myself, and group of friends whom I was with, that one function still relied on a link with an interconnecting device that rested on some old copper pennies because they were a unique thickness for a specific role required in the overall scheme of things to operate the mechanism and resting thereof. I do hope they retain the pennies within restoration plans.

This Nation of ours (and so many others), say a special and sincere ‘thank you’ to Big Ben for being the tempus fugit Guardian of its people as a symbol of all that is the Best of British.


Whilst writing, I wish to add a special ‘Thank You’ to Tuck Magazine and Associates, as I celebrate a year of writing my Column for this worthy Publication.

It has been a wonderful privilege for me, and a responsibility to bring political, general and/or social and philosophical issues to others in a way which may provide a new perspective to that found in alternate media.

My appreciation to three celebrities who kindly honoured me also with unique interviews: Maureen Jennings, Writer and Creator of the TV Series ‘Murdoch Mysteries.’ Also well loved and most talented Actors Stefanie Powers and Claudia Christian; all were most gracious in every respect.

Thank you to Readers, as you are the ones who encourage me with kind feedback and general appreciation.  It means a lot to me personally.

If I were Big Ben, I would chime right now by way of a ‘Thank you’ to everyone! But, Big Ben is way above my pay grade (grin).





Hazel Speed

Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine

Hazel Speed is a Philosopher, Writer, and Artist with various creative projects at differing stages of development. Her flaship project is an animation which has produced a film short: She has also written an E-novel, ‘Just Suppose…!‘ which is available via the attached link.

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