Am 31. Mai 1859 konnte man die Glocke, die Big Ben heißt, zum ersten Mal in London hören. Heute nennt jedermann den Glockenturm Big Ben, aber es ist nur die Glocke, die so heißt. Wir merken uns das mal mit dieser wunderbaren Geschichte, die sich in Tom Stoppards Theaterstück Dirty Linen & New-found-land findet. Diese kleine Geschichte aus dem Stück möchte ich doch mal eben zitieren. Es redet da ein gewisser Bernard, ein Beamter des Home Office:
Lloyd George once asked me whether it was possible to see Big Ben from the upstairs window. I said that it was not. `Surely you are wrong,’ he said, ‘are you absolutely certain?’ ‘Absolutely certain, Prime Minister.’ He replied that he found it difficult to believe and would like to see for himself. I assured him that there was no need. The fact was, my mother was upstairs in bed making out her dinner table: she had the understandable, though to me unwelcome, desire to show me off during my leave. Lloyd George pressed the point, and finally said, ‘I will bet you £5 that I can see Big Ben from Marjorie’s window.’ ‘Very well,’ I said, and we went upstairs.
I explained to my mother that the Prime Minister and I had a bet on. She received us gaily, just as though she were in her drawing room, Lloyd George went to the window and pointed. ‘Bernard,’ he said, ‘I see from Big Ben that it is four minutes past the hour. The £5 which you have lost,’ he continued, ‘I will spend on vast quantities of flowers for your mother by way of excusing this intrusion. It is a small price to pay,’ he said, ‘for the lesson that you must never pit any of the five Anglo-Saxon senses against the Celtic sixth sense.’ ‘Prime Minister,’ I said, ‘I’m afraid Welsh intuition is no match for English cunning. Big Ben is the name of the bell, not the clock.’ He paid up at once. . . and that was a fiver which I can tell you I have never spent.
Der gute Bernard hat sich sein Leben lang nicht gefragt, wieso der Premierminister das Schlafzimmer seiner Mutter kannte.