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17 August 2017

Big Ben goes quiet

If you are studying in the UK and haven't heard Big Ben ring yet, get there quick. The famous clock bell will ring on Monday for the last time until 2021.

This is because the clock is being serviced and the tower of Big Ben is being repaired and a lift fitted. Big Ben's ring is very loud and there are worries that the hearing of workers on the tower could be damaged if it carried on as normal. There are plans for it to ring again for New Year's Eve and other major events.

Until now the ring has only been stopped in wartime and at special national occasions, such as the funerals of ex-Prime Ministers like Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.

Some members of Parliament, including the Prime Minister Theresa May, are unhappy that the clock's bell will not be heard for so long, and are campaigning for this to be changed.

Bolt and Farah's exit from competition

London 2017's world athletics championships has just finished, with goodbyes to two huge figures in sport. Usain Bolt retired, but not the way he would have wanted. He was beaten in the 100m race, and did not finish the relay because he got cramp.

Mo Farah, the UK's famous long-distance runner, also said goodbye at the London event. He won gold in the 10,000m race (his 11th in a row) but only took silver in the 5,000m race. He will now appear at track events in Birmingham and Zurich before moving into his new career as a marathon runner, possibly based in the UK.

The new James Bond is…

Daniel Craig.

The actor, who has now starred in four Bond films, had said he would not do another one. He has now said that he "gave a really stupid answer" in an interview just after work on the last film ended.

He told a US chat show that he would star in the 25th Bond film, which is due for release in 2019. He said he had always wanted to return but "needed a break", but the next film will probably be his last.

No more cat's eyes?

This is a story about the English language, and roads.

In 1934 a British inventor called Percy Shaw invented little road studs which reflect car headlights so that drivers can see lines marking the middle or edge of the road in the dark. Mr Shaw was inspired by noticing that cat's eyes reflected back at him on a foggy night, and called his invention cat's eyes. There are now around 500m of them on our roads.

Everyone in the UK is used to the studs being called cat's eyes but it can be very confusing for visitors or children. Signs saying "Cat's eyes removed" have shocked lots of people who thought there was animal cruelty involved, rather than changes to the road surfaces. One US tourist says when she saw this sign she had to stop her car and read it again. "It seemed very gruesome that poor animals were being so horribly mistreated," she said.

So now one UK council has decided to officially call them road studs not cat's eyes. This decision has been criticised too. "Does anyone who lives in England know what a road stud is?" asked one man.


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