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Showing posts from August, 2017

When a clock falls silent

With the shuttering of Big Ben for the next few years, commentators have tied the distress over the great clock's silence to the fact that it is coinciding with Brexit. But is it more than that? What does this historic clock that is so vividly seen and heard really mean to Londoners and the tourists who flock to it?

The silencing of Big Ben — and the attendant hand-wringing over it — is an object lesson in the extent to which the visual and auditory symbols of timekeeping insinuate themselves into our lives. (Leaving aside for the moment that Big Ben is the bell, not the clock.)

"No one needs Big Ben to tell the time," wrote Anne Perkins in The Guardian. "It depends what you value."