In gently humorous British news, a southern English town called Staines is reportedly changing its name to Staines-on-Thames to distance itself from any memory of Ali-G. The chavviest and first of Sasha Baron Cohen's alter-egos, Ali-G was once a beloved fictional son of Staines (Cohen himself grew up in London). Indeed, in 2002, enough Ali-G fans trekked out to Staines to check out a KFC featured in "Ali G Indahouse," that local councilmen declared the dawn of a new Ali G-focused "tourism strategy," incorporating said KFC and another "haunt of their famous son," the Crooked Billet Roundabout.
But a new tourism strategy always comes before a fall. Behold a councilman's changed tune a decade on:
"The ancient and honourable name of Staines has been sullied by negligent reporting by the media on one hand and perhaps irresponsible humour on the part of others such as Ali G."
Note the careful use of "sullied," rather than "stained." And this, from Alex Tribick of the Spelthorne Borough Council, which previously unrolled that KFC tourism strategy:
'The town was derided. Despite its situation along both banks of a beautiful stretch of the river, property prices are well below average."
So how does an English town class itself up? By adding an "on-Thames," of course! From May 2012 on, the town will be known as Staines-on-Thames, a name that might still sound funny to us uncouth Yanks, but is in English terms as expensively tagged as a "de" last name (or a Van, on the Upper East Side). Aside from the fact that this doesn't preclude future mockery (what's to stop another character claiming loyalties to Staines-On-Thames?), the name's baldface ladder-climb introduces new reasons to make fun of the town. Here's Staines Town Society secretary Anne Damerell speaking to British press on the "absurd," "pretentious nonsense."
"Towns have suffixes to distinguish them from other towns but there isn't any other Staines so why waste resources on something that is useless. I think if Ali G gets to hear about this attempt to gentrify Staines, he'll have a real laugh at us doing something so silly. Does Staines have such a bad reputation? We're just a normal place with a normal name, let's leave it at that."
In conclusion: "The ancient and honourable name of Staines." Tee hee.
WATCH Ali G eat Staines KFC chicken dippers in "Ali G Indahouse":