Londoner's Diary: Churchill and FDR lose their Mayfair perch

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Forget the distinctive bongs of Big Ben, which rang its final chime for four years yesterday. Another much-loved landmark has disappeared from London’s streets, at a time when it is perhaps needed more than ever.

The Londoner took a wander through Mayfair yesterday and realised that the north corner of New Bond Street seemed less crowded than usual. Something was missing: the iconic statue of Winston Churchill sitting on a bench with his wartime contemporary, President Franklin Roosevelt. The piece is a must-see for American tourists, and provides room in between the bronze figures for the perfect photograph. But it has gone: roadworks at the busy shopping destination have led to its recent removal.

Called Allies, the work was designed by late American sculptor Lawrence Holofcener, and was a gift from the Bond Street Association. Commemorating 50 years of peace since the Second World War, it was unveiled by Princess Margaret in 1995. Its disappearance does not bode well for our increasingly curious special relationship — a term which Churchill himself popularised — as Britain jostles for a place in the trade queue while the US behaves like an embarrassing uncle. 

So where is it? “The council’s £10 million project to improve Bond Street requires the temporary and safe removal of the Allies Bench for safe keeping,” a rep for Westminster council says. “Which provides the ideal opportunity for any necessary restoration work.”

Fingers crossed the roadworks don’t overrun: the politicians who lined Parliament Square to say farewell to Big Ben might just lose their heads if yet another metal symbol of British pride is left languishing.

Speaking of Big Ben, you’ve got to hand it to London Zoo: they know how to respond to the crucial crisis of the week. Yesterday, after the bell went silent for its four years of repairs, the zoo tweeted an invitation to guests to its new and improved insect section. It’s complete with a giant wooden tower filled with creepy crawlies. Naturally, it’s called Bug Ben.

Wanted: a cyber ninja for Her Majesty

Anyone know a decent Q? : Desmond Llewelyn, as Q the James Bond (Photo by Keith Hamshere/Getty Images)

James Bond may be on Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but when it comes to internal security, the Queen and her household are more in need of a Q. 

Today is the closing day for a palace vacancy for “an Information Assurance Professional”. The online ad appeals for someone with a degree covering “information security, cyber security, records management and risk management”. The lucky employee will be responsible for “actively helping shape our future approach and improve our efficiencies”. Surely the Duke of York could help? Prince Andrew spends a lot of his time working on the creation of skilled jobs in science, technology and engineering. The £36,000 salary would cover one of his holidays. 

Quote of the Day

(Getty Images)

You don’t have to watch it in real time, do you?

New Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith risks upsetting sponsors by telling fans that they can always just record the show and skip the adverts.

Celebs raise their glasses for the eclipse

Cool by the pool: Catherine Zeta Jones with her children, Carys and Dylan

What’s a Welsh girl to do for an eclipse? Why, put on some classic Bonnie Tyler, of course. Yesterday, Catherine Zeta-Jones marked the celestial occurrence by switching on Total Eclipse of the Heart and watching the sky in her garden, with husband Michael Douglas and children, Dylan and Carys. “For those who don’t know, the fantastic Bonnie Tyler is related to us Jones’,” she wrote. Other celebs who watched the spectacle included actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Jessica Parker, while Ivanka Trump advised her followers to wear eye protection. And they say she has influence on her father…

Legally blonde: Reese Witherspoon (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic) (FilmMagic)

Actress Reese Witherspoon hosted a party in New York to launch her new romantic comedy Home Again. Guests included supermodel Christie Brinkley and comedian Joy Behar but the buzz in the room was that Paul McCartney had showed up, unannounced and uninvited. It would have been quite the coup. Alas, he was simply waiting outside for his daughter, photographer Mary McCartney, who was inside. You’re never too old to get picked up by your dad.

Data days for artist Ben

In this era of inflated prices The Londoner has discovered a great opportunity to finally acquire some art. All buyers have to do is sell a bit of themselves. Artist Ben Eine, pictured, he of the distinctive colourful lettering found across the city, is launching a two day pop-up in Old Street station, where punters can buy his works by handing over some of their personal data instead of cash.

“The Data pop-up shop will ask shoppers how much are they willing to part with without opening their own wallet,” the organisers say. Eine is running the pop-up with the computer whizzes behind Kaspersky Lab, the idea being that shoppers will get the benefit of some insight into how cyber crime works as well as a nice limited print. 

The shop opens underneath Silicon Roundabout on September 6 for those wishing to flog their data in exchange for art. Well, it beats giving it all to Facebook without realising.

Tweet of the Day

“Only kidding… Bong”

As Big Ben goes silent, the account dedicated to tweeting its hourly bongs refuses to follow suit

Retort of the day: an internet troll told Chelsea Manning, formerly incarcerated for leaking military secrets, that she should have been shot for treason. “Instead I got shot for Vogue,” she replied.

A guilty pleasure for the McGregors

Fantasy highland fling: Ewan McGregor and his handsome bro, Colin

Anyone fancy a highland fling? Ewan McGregor and his brother Colin got their kilts on to celebrate their father Jim becoming chieftain of the Crieff Highland Games after 40 years of service. We hear there were plenty of claymores on display and rounds of tossing the caber to keep Ewan’s fans happy. 

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