Big Ben is being quiet at the moment, with the bonging of the bell shut down to protect the hearing of workers involved with the extensive renovations going on in Elizabeth Tower. People were outraged about this, but their concerns were ignored. Instead Big Ben was relegated to bonging on special occasions, and when you need to test for those occasions - which is what just happened.
So some background. Big Ben originally went silent last August, because a big bell that rings out multiple times an hour isn't particularly good for workers' hearing - particularly since the ones working on the outside of the tower weren't able to wear hearing protection for health and safety reasons.
A small group of loud people decided this was an outrage, and that disconnecting Big Ben from the clock was some sort of blasphemy, and was a problem that needed to be solved immediately. Unlike actual problems like homelessness, or murders. Even Theresa May had her say, in what I can only assume was an attempt to score some political points.
Those people must have been thrilled when Big Ben started bonging away at 8.30pm last night.
— alex woolfall (@woolfallalex) October 4, 2018
Apparently it was a test to make sure everything was working ahead of Remembrance Sunday and New Year's Eve, two of the occasions where Big Ben will continue to bong away during renovations. That makes sense, since you don't want to get to Remembrance Sunday and find that the bell hasn't been hooked up properly, and there's no bonging to be heard. That'll give the dumbasses an excuse to be outraged, and detract from real problems. Like Brexit, or who will replace Matt LeBlanc on Top Gear.
One such dumbass, Labour MP Stephen Pound, spoke to the London Evening Standard about the incident - which he heard first hand inside Parliament:
"Remembrance Sunday is a solemn occasion and the sonorous sound of the bells will certainly add to the sense of occasion. I salute the courage of the Bell Master who agreed to let this happen and let the chimes of freedom ring out again over the city."
Uh huh. Alright mate, don't get too emotional with us now. It's only a bell, and it's not like someone died or anything. [Standard]