Confusion is expected in central London tomorrow when Big Ben, the mother of all grandfather clocks, will stop ticking for good.
Big Ben has been London's timekeeper since 1834, but has recently "run out of steam", and has been deemed "unreliable" by the Greater London Council. A spokesman for the GLC said:
"Big Ben has started losing time. If the clock is slow, people will miss their buses and trains. They will be late for work. Just like now."
The clock and tower will be taken out of action at 8am tomorrow (Saturday) and sold to an unsuspecting South American country for economy-boosting billions of pounds.
Sir Trevor McDonald, formerly the newsreader on ITN's News At Ten, which used Big Ben's bongs in its introduction, was visibly upset when told.
"I set my watch by Big Ben," he said, "and the bongs, the bongs."
Radio 4's PM show also uses the bongs, and has asked its listeners to come up with an alternative sound. So far, they have come up with only a fart and a belch.
A new timing device based on the Big Brother Geordie timecheck voice will be installed near Tower Bridge next month.