It is quite an interesting tale, how the name Big Ben became popular, and became used to refer to bulky Benjamins, one of whom eventually lent his name to the famous clock tower in London. It all started long before in the streets of London itself (where else?) in Woolwich in the mid-1600’s.
Let us go back to those days into the dockyards of Woolwich, and meet Benedict, the man this piece is about. In those days he was not called Big Ben. No, then he was called Big Dick, because he was a dick; there is no delicate way of putting it, no better way of putting it – that was simply what he was. Growing up among the docks, working with the dockworkers and deckhands, it could be understandable to have a bit a coarse nature, but he was a bad man who was feared by those very same dockworkers. There were others like him in town – in fact, the army posted a battalion in regular attendance to prevent major fights and any damage to goods coming in or going out from Woolwich. Yet he was the most feared.
And then, one day, it all changed. No one knows what happened exactly – he never said much. It all changed, and for the better… [Ed’s note – From what scant evidence there is available from a priest’s diary about a confession, all that can be said is that he had a direct talk with a young child who didn’t know who he was and just asked why grown-ups like him do such awful bullying, which led to his own introspection]
Since the change he took up a personal crusade of sorts. What the army battalion had been posted to do, he started doing on his own. He started getting the help of the armed men when strictly necessary, but tried getting the dockworkers to organize themselves to work better, and save money to improve their lives. Those same people that used to call him Big Dick behind his back out of fear now called him just Dick or Ben out of affection. Over time, he had his new friends in the military help him have the new ordinance storage depot in Woolwich start armaments/ammunition manufacture to create new jobs in his village. People (even those in the army) were already calling him Big Ben out of love and respect by then… the touch of white in his hair helped, no doubt.
Big Dick to Dick to Ben to Big Ben – quite a journey for a man that ended up touching quite a lot of lives…
Note: This is all imaginary stuff (obviously) I had to write because I wanted to write something, and when I asked a friend for an idea, the first thing he said was “Big Dick”. Of course, his nickname in college was Little Dick, and I suppose that is still subconsciously gnawing at his mind. 😛 I thought about writing that, but this seemed better. Dedicated, of course, to the one who gave the idea. To AK, LD6. 😀 Comment away, everyone…
Originally written – 17 March 2014.