Shocking Face Lift for Big Ben
best-loved monument suffers a 'sleight of hand' trick. MSN correspondent Justin
Tuesday November 19: Chaos and confusion reigned in central London today as
commuters in Westminster found themselves witnesses to an extraordinary and
At eight minutes past eight this morning the clock face of Big Ben - the
capital's most recognised symbol - underwent a startling and sudden
The moment is best left to John Bateman, a parliamentary clerk who was on his
way to work at the time, to describe: "There I was on my way to work at the
time when I looked up at Big Ben to check whether I would be early or late for
my first meeting of the day. As usual I saw I had eight minutes to get to my
office for the eight o'clock daily briefing. But then I happened to glance up at
the clock face for a second time - I couldn't believe my eyes. The numbers had
all changed. No more I, II, III, IV, V and so on - just eights all the way
round. I'd never seen anything like it."
Other eye-witnesses reported glimpsing a fast-moving colourful winged creature
in the vicinity moments earlier.
MSN reporters tried to contact the office of Ken Livingstone to see if the
London Mayor had any comment but could not get through. Nor was any comment
forthcoming from the Prime Minister's Office. A spokesperson for the Society of
London Heritage commented that although this wasn't a usual occurrence there
should be no cause for alarm.
Some experts, however, aren't convinced. Reginald Weightman, Professor of
Paranormal Psychology at the University of Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire,
believes that this marks the start of something big. "For the past eight
years I've been researching what are known as 'Postchrysalide octo-events'.
While a number of incidents were recently reported in America no physical proof
has ever been offered - until now. This is the first occurrence that has been
seen by so many people and recorded by the media. I'm certain we are seeing the
start of something big, very big. It's not a one-off; it's a phenomenon."
Professor Weightman suggests that internet users in particular could be affected
most by future outbreaks. He cites web surfers who are vulnerable to virus
attacks as an example.