I enjoyed a wonderful exchange with a young student from Lingen in Germany yesterday on a highlights tour of London.
We were at the Palace of Westminster discussing, as usual, the full and proper name of London's most famous landmark. The young man's English was impeccable – certainly better than my flaccid phrasebook German.
"Can you see Big Ben?" was my question to the group.
"No, " the young fellow shot back, eloquently, "you cannot see Big Ben because Big Ben is the… is the… is the, er…"
For the first time in the whole tour his near flawless English became halting. He had momentarily lost the English word. But rather than give up, he ploughed on bravely and to great comic effect…
"Big Ben," he grinned, "is the DingDong."
Yes it jolly well is! And from this point on, whenever you join me on a Westminster tour that's what I'll be calling it. Big Ben: the most famous DingDong in the world.
A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.