On Monday it was revealed that Big Ben, the bell inside Parliament's Elizabeth Tower, was going to be silenced for four years. The reason cited was health and safety concerns, because the bonging could be hazardous to workers in and around the tower. It's a reasonable enough, and does it really matter if the bell is silent for a while?
Apparently it's a huge problem, because people all over the country seem to have lost their shit over a stupid clock in London. Theresa May even took time out of her busy schedule of holding Donald Trump's hand and allegedly running the country to seemingly condemn the decision.
Today Melvyn Reed, the clockmaker who used to be responsible for maintaining Big Ben's clock for firm Thwaites & Reed, says that the whole plan is "nonsense".
He told The Daily Telegraph that there have never been any issues during previous renovation works, adding that "there is something amiss. The need to close it down for four years is nonsense." He also claims that workers will only need ear defenders if they're working next to the bell, since he claims it can't be heard elsewhere in the tower.
Well aside from on the outside, where workers will apparently be working on 100-metre high scaffolding. Big Ben is a very large bell, and can be heard up to five miles away. Being attached to the tower isn't going to magically make them unable to hear it, and if they're hanging around that high up it would be pretty helpful if they can talk to each other.
Even if the workers aren't at risk from the high volume, hearing that thing bong every 15 minutes is likely to drive a few of them mad. I know that's what would happen to me.
Parliament is currently reviewing the situation, thanks to so much false outrage caused by the news that the clock would be silent. Some have suggested that workers work round the clock to get the renovations done faster, and Sir David Amess says that even if this makes it more expensive "if it is done in half the time everyone benefits."
Reminder that Amess is an MP for the party that's spent a lot of time cutting public spending over the past seven years. What benefit is there to having Big Ben ringing every 15 minutes?
The new review isn't even going to stop the clock being silenced on Monday, since it won't begin until Parliament reconvenes after the summer recess. I do wonder if their opinions will change if it turns out people don't even notice the bonging is gone.
At the moment there are many things to worry about. North Korea being all North Korea-y, Brexit negotiations, international terrorism, a mad man with access to a very large pile of nuclear weapons, and about a million other things. The fact that Big Ben will be silent for four years is not one of them. The clock will still carry on working, and tower itself isn't going anywhere. Plenty of unoriginal tourists will still be able to take pictures of themselves pretending to hold it in their hands.
Society needs to sort its priorities out.