Big Ben is under tourist-disappointing scaffolding until at least 2021, and it's been there so long that it's now part of Google Maps.
The £61m restoration project started back in 2017, and aims to fix "urgent" problems with the clock mechanism, decay to the inside and outside of the tower, health and safety improvements including a new lift, and more energy-efficient lighting.
While the clock tower itself (the Elizabeth Tower, FYI) is all wrapped up, at least one clock face at a time can still be seen. Said face now includes the Prussian blue hands and numbers we were promised as a return to the clock's original colour scheme:
L: Before. R: Beach body ready.
While the tower is covered up, it's not bonging, which is a great sadness to all of us -- and it's possibly not a coincidence that the world has gone entirely to shit while the bongs have been (mostly) silenced.
However, it will bong sometimes, says the website:
"Parliament’s specialist clock mechanics will ensure that Big Ben can still bong for important national events such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday."
Yes, even the official Parliament website says "bong."
While the tower's been covered up, a few brands have made an effort to peddle their wares by bringing it back -- notably Snapchat with its scaffolding-stripping AR filter and Taco Bell with its fake bongs.
However, we do kind of like the Minecraft-esque look of the tower while it's wrapped up -- it looks like a Lego priest giving the absolute shower of shambles that is our parliament its last rites:
Image: Coolandero via Reddit.
You can see Big
Bong Ben and its new clothes on Google Maps here, in 2D and 3D.