Those Brexit bongs are just another media distraction

BONG! Should Big Ben ring out on January 31 to mark Brexit? Oh, it can bong as much as Nigel Farage likes, but I won’t be listening.

This blog isn’t really about Brexit, a relief all round, not least to me. It’s more concerned with media distraction, as we shall see.

Brexiter Tory MP Mark Francois, who hops around like a human kettle with a stuck switch, failed in his Parliamentary bid to have the big bongs sound out at the end of the month.

Sadly, the story hasn’t gone silent yet, with talk of crowdfunding. Which reminds me I must have ten pence going spare somewhere.

At this point it is worth shaking the bottle of HP Sauce. I don’t know if Francois and Farage have noticed, but since last May the bottle containing this delicious brown sludge has featured scaffolding on its label.

This modification reflects renovation work on Elizabeth Tower, home to Big Ben. The bell has largely not chimed since the work began, and the House of Commons Commission says it would cost £500,000 to revive the bell for a Brexit ding-dong.

If Francois stopped being oddly grumpy about winning the argument, he might look up at see the real scaffolding erected at his place of work. Farage can be excused, I suppose, as he’s never been voted into that place.

Anyway, Bong! The editor of the Daily Express chimes with Francois. Today’s front page bears the ridiculous headline: “BIG BEN MUST BONG FOR BREXIT.”

Above that sits a rabid collection of words about Brexit, none of which need detain us. Instead, admire the spoof version doing the rounds on Twitter in which that headline has been replaced with: “HAVE YOU GONE OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MINDS?”

Assorted empty vessels on the right might be bonging on about this unimportant matter. Surely no normal person could care less.

As a supposedly normal person, my only suggestion is that Big Ben could ring when we know Brexit has worked out and not been a total car crash. January 31, 2030 is probably free and the tower should be fixed by then.

I promised something about media distraction, so I’d better oblige. Instead of Brexit bongs, perhaps the Daily Express could have followed the lead of the Manchester Evening News and reported on the abuse scandal in that city.

Children being raped and abused by up to 100 members of a Manchester grooming gang 16 years ago is more important than pointless bongs. Especially as police and social workers are said to have known what was going on as nearly 60 young girls were exploited in this manner.

Or, you know, Australia is still on fire, and that’s more important too. Post-Brexit trade deals might not be at the top of Australia’s to-do list right now, although the climate-change denying prime minister, Scott Morrison, might sell you a bag of coal.

Two years ago, Morrison, then the treasurer of Australia, brought a lump of coal to the House of Representatives. “This is coal,” he said, possibly unnecessarily. “Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared.”

As this summer’s bush fires have raged and ravaged, Morrison has seemingly said: “This is fire. Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared.” But everyone is understandably terrified and the public mood seems to be turning against him.

Having visited Australia twice, and loved the place, what strikes me as odd is that such a hot country hasn’t raced ahead with alternative sources of energy rather than obsessing about coal. Look into the sky, Mr Morrison – all that sunshine frying your brains might be good for something solar-shaped.

Any number of serious matters are more worthy of attention than those stupid bongs. Most matters are also more worthy of attention than the undying flap and fuss about Harry and Meghan becoming semi-detached from the royal family.

Sometimes the royals are the biggest media distraction of the lot. Endless pages and endless hours about not very much, with each new scandal serving its primary purpose of reinforcing the royals in our national life, locked forever in a symbiotic love/hate relationship with the media

That’s me all bonged out for now.

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