Alice Jones: Don't ever change a name, especially if it's unpronounceable

IMHO: The announcement that Big Ben was to be renamed The Elizabeth Tower was met with a deafening peal of baffled whys

Share
Related Topics

Making fun of tourists - it's one of the few compensations of living in a place that, come summer, is overrun by camera-hovering, rucksack-wearing, slow-walking, Starbucks-clogging hordes. Who hasn't sniggered at the hapless European backpackers wandering around Oxford looking for "the university" or laughed at the Americans requesting directions to Ly-ces-ter Square? Nevertheless, it seems a particularly cruel trick to pull on London tourists to change the name of one of the city's most celebrated landmarks.

This week, it was announced to a deafening peal of baffled whys, that Big Ben was to be renamed The Elizabeth Tower in honour of the Queen's 60 years on the throne. I say renamed but of course no one is actually going to call it by its new name – apart from tourists clutching their newly reprinted Rough Guides. Big Ben may be inaccurate – strictly speaking, it's the bell that's called Big Ben, not the tower that houses it – but Big Ben, I suspect, is what it will remain.

Renaming things is a tricky business. When it comes to places, it becomes a matter of local pride. It's why residents of Primrose Hill in North London have been battling with the council over the proposed renaming of Dumpton Place as the more fragrant (but less well spelt) Jasmin Mews this week.

And it's why occasional attempts, almost always by estate agents, to rebrand quarters of London – Holborn as Midtown, Fitzrovia as NoHo etc – rarely put down roots. Calling places by their "local" names – the weirder the pronunciation, the better - is a way to claim ownership of them and feel at home. So Big Ben will remain Big Ben among defiant Londoners for generations to come. And Holborn will never become Midtown – not least because if it did, Londoners would have one less local pronunciation trick about which to feel terribly smug.

* The French tennis player Gilles Simon has trotted out the old warhorse that men deserve more prize money at Wimbledon than women. Women finally achieved parity at the tournament in 2007 but the No 13 seed, knocked out in the second round this week, thinks it is already time to go back to the bad old days. "In Grand Slams men spend twice as much time on court as the women", he said. True, women play the best of three sets rather than five, but winning is about more than hours put in on the grass. If it wasn't, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, whose match in 2010 lasted 11 hours over three days with a 70-68 final set, would be crowned champions and be billionaires several times over.

Simon also claims men's tennis is "more entertaining" than women's tennis. Whether he's right or not, is he then suggesting that the prize pot should vary according to how much viewers enjoy a match? In that case, Pete Sampras who thunked his way to 14 predictable Grand Slam titles should be penniless and Lukas Rosol's giant-slaying of Rafa Nadal this week would have earned him a huge bonus. But that's not how it works. The top prize goes to the player who beats everyone else and nothing – not how long it takes, how good it looks or whether they wear shorts or a skirt to do it - should change that.

There are times when even the most level-headed commuter gives in to melodrama and describes the rush-hour scenes at their local railway station as "apocalyptic". Now the bar has been raised. This week, thanks to a combination of rather too much of the wrong kind of rain, astonishing bad luck and, no doubt, a little incompetence, passengers were trapped on a London to Glasgow train for 15 and a half hours. The service, which usually takes four and a half hours, set off from London at 11.30am, was blocked by floods and landslides in the Lake District, then caught fire at Lockerbie before rolling into Glasgow in the wee hours.

"Fire, rain, landslides…" said one world-weary passenger on the news. "Everything but pestilence". I'm sure the railways could arrange that for next time.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will also work alongside their seasoned sa...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first step into...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical Design Engineer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative company working...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Lib Dem MPs have criticised David Cameron's decision to ask the retail tycoon Sir Philip Green (above) to lead a spending review when his Arcadia company is registered in the name of his Monaco-based wife  

So, the people who always support the Tories... are supporting the Tories? Has the world gone mad?

Mark Steel
Crofter's cottages on Lewis. The island's low population density makes it a good candidate for a spaceport (Alamy)  

My Scottish awakening, helped by horizontal sleet

Simon Kelner
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat