- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006

LONDON — If you are really interested in keeping up with the Joneses, or perhaps even in doing them one better, you’ll probably need to rent a sizable stadium and issue a worldwide invitation for everyone with the surname to drop in for a visit.

If the Jones men and women have their way next month, you’ll also need at least 1,600 seats for them. That’s the number of Joneses that organizers hope to cram under one tent — in this case, the Wales Millennium Center in Cardiff — on Nov. 3.

There’s a purpose to this Jones madness — an attempt to gather under one roof the largest number of people with the same family last name. If enough Joneses show up, folks from the Guinness Book of Records will be on hand to log their success for posterity.

The Welsh television channel S4C, which is sponsoring the mass Jones-in, figures it’s in the bag. The current record is held by Sweden, which gathered 583 members of the clan Norberg at one venue. (But whoever heard of keeping up with the Norbergs?)

When it comes to sheer numerical comparison, the Norbergs are doubtless deep in the shadow of all those Joneses. Just take a look under the J’s of about any phone book in the United States to see why. In Columbia, S.C., alone, there are about 1,200 of them, from Aaron to Zuleika.

According to the U.S. Census, Jones is the fourth-most common surname in the country, ranking behind only Smith, Johnson and Williams. And it certainly is the most numerous in Wales, itself a sort of spiritual home for the Joneses of this world. There are, of course, some of them with special attributes, such as singer Tom Jones and Welsh-born movie star Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Gethin Jones, a television presenter for the British Broadcasting Corp., spoke for the millions of others who share his surname: “I’m extremely proud to be a Jones. It reflects my pride in my family’s roots” — in his case, in the western part of the principality that hangs off the west coast of Britain.

“My sister even kept her maiden name when she got married,” he added.

Mr. Jones says he’s going to be on hand when the festivities — titled the “Jones Jones Jones Show,” — get under way.

When the formalities of “Mr. Jones meet Mr. Jones,” or Mrs. Jones, or Miss Jones, or Master Jones are finally over, the Jones lads and lasses will be treated to an extravaganza of music, dance, comedy performances and guest appearances by a lot of people — all, of course, named Jones.

“The Jones clan has proved its talent in various fields — singers, actors, presenters, sportsmen and women,” said one of the show’s producers. His name, oddly enough, is not Jones, but Neville Hughes.

He’s right about that. There’s singer Norah Jones, Davy Jones of the Monkees, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and jazz musician Quincy Jones. And Indiana Jones, and “Along Came Jones,” and “Alias Smith and Jones,” and the unfortunate train driver of folk tradition, Casey Jones.

Of course, you can get into the “Jones Jones Jones Show” even if your name is Smith, Theodokopolis, Nakashima or Queen Elizabeth II — or rather, you can try. But priority will be given to people named Jones, so you are likely to be outnumbered by several hundred to one.

And adopting Jones as a name for the night is a non-starter. You’ll need your passport or driver’s license to prove your Jonesness, and the heavies who’ll undoubtedly man the doors will be under strict instructions to conduct identity checks.

If, after all the doings at the stadium you are still not Jonesed-out, there is available a five-night bus tour of Wales, to stop at the hometowns of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Tom Jones, plus various castles and a spot called Ewephoria, described as “a uniquely Welsh attraction starring sheepdogs and sheep.”

Also on the tour is a visit to a slate quarrying town named Blaenau Ffestiniog, which has more Joneses per capita than any other town in Britain. And to help you along the way, there’s the bus driver and a handy tour guide — both named Jones.

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