Londoners are suddenly becoming aware that the chimes of Big Ben will be silenced for four years to allow essential maintenance to take place.
The power of the chimes is so great that to allow them to continue to sound while the work is undertaken would harm those working to save it.
The bell at the north-eastern end of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster will ring for the last time at noon next Monday. The renovation of the Elizabeth Tower is expected to be completed by 2021.
LW only heard about the silencing of Big Ben yesterday and was both surprised at disappointed. Of course the workers health is a priority and it is nonsense to criticise Health and Safety rules that are designed to, you guessed it, keep people healthy and safe.
Problem is that the sound of Big Ben is London. The chimes define our city.
Big Ben continued to chime during the Blitz without fail.
Late at night Wapping residents can hear the comforting sounds of Big Ben floating over the Thames.
At times of crisis Big Ben tells us that whatever has happened all is well and life continues.
Big Ben stands for resolute defence against all
The photograph above was taken after the Westminster attacks and published to reassure the nation that all was well and we would not be deterred from living our lives as normal.
A para and a police officer stand armed and ready.
What looms large above them? The clock faces of the Elizabeth Tower behind which Big Ben also stands ready to strike at those who would challenge our democracy.
On consideration it seems more than an unfortunate coincidence that Brexit will take place during the four year silence, almost as if the bells that sit atop the Elizabeth Tower are holding their breath in anticipation.
Country needs to hear Big Ben
Tourists travel from across the world to see and hear Big Ben and it does not seem fair to them to totally silence the chimes.
What to do?
Making Big Ben run like, er, clockwork, is complex, it has to be dismantled by hand in a strict order.
Those undertaking the work need to be properly protected and wearing ear defenders all day is not an option.
The fact remains that the sound of Big Ben provides reassurance to all and is needed. All the time. Every day.
Those in charge need to change the maintenance plans to allow us all to hear Big Ben. Londoners need it. The country needs it.
Four years silence is plain bonkers. We joke about it and use silly puns, but this does not dilute the gravity of the issue.