Playing the name game

In case you haven’t already heard the news, the people have voted. What they have voted for is to name part of Derby’s new ring road extension “Lara Croft Way”. For those from out of town Lara Croft was illiterally conceived in Derby in 1993 as the star of local company Core Design’s new Tomb Raider computer game. The character spawned a series of sequel games generating a massive global fan base and a few years later the impossibly dimensioned character jumped from console screen to big screen in the guise of improbably proportioned Angelina Jolie.

Lara Croft
Lara Croft

The poll was conducted online and a massive 89% of the vote was in favour of this choice. I’m greatly in support of this decision, not because I ever played the game, rated the films or worship Angelina (the calendar of her at work is purely coincidental). It is wholly appropriate recognition of the sort of endeavour that has come to characterise local creative industries and in the process is redefining the city on the world stage.

Derby has a long tradition of involvement in the genesis and adoption of new technology so it bemuses me to hear a section of the local community objecting to the naming decision on grounds that it is facile or tacky. They fail to understand that the computer gaming industry is a huge commercial business attracting young and old, male and female and that Lara Croft is a brand known and affectionately thought of around the world. There is a natural progression here from preceding local luminaries including the first Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed, painter Joseph Wright, Erasmus Darwin (father of…), nurse Florence Nightingale and of course Tim Brooke-Taylor.

Presumably the moaning protestors would have been happy if the road had been named after 18th century civil servant Sir Dudley Dull who once passed through the city and was later credited with the invention of dust.

Angelina visiting McTurks kebab house in Derby yesterday
Angelina visiting McTurks kebab house in Derby yesterday

Whatever your viewpoint we can all look forward to a continuous supply of puns on the local travel reports once the road is opened and subject to breakdowns, congestion and other arterial ailments. There is even wild optimistic talk that Ms Jolie may be persuaded to fly over and open the road, although that seems more improbable than the film plot. I wouldn’t buy the game or purchase a ticket to see the film, but you know I think I would pay to listen to her agent trying to sell that idea to her.