Flying the Flag

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I’ve been intrigued, amused and entertained in equal measure over the last month by the increasing visibility of the Union Jack as stylistic inspiration and decor.

From sad little paper flags propped up next to a display of comfy shoes to nifty objets presumably “designed” by someone for payment, it seems no place is too trivial for the Union Jack to make its presence felt.

What an outpouring of national joy!

It used to be that a ceramic mug would do the trick nicely, thank you. A sedate image of Her Majesty surrounded by a bit of blue, red and white, and we were content.

But now we are a Consumer Society, and we cannot move for opportunities to indulge our magpie instincts.

I think I could stand it all that little bit more if the red were just a different red, and the blue a different blue. The official colour combination reminds me of a Dandy and Beano comics from the sixties. Dennis the Menace at his sartorial peak. A few intrepid retailers have fudged the dull navy and edged towards a brighter, warmer hue, but the red then kills any improvement.

At least the disconcerting nationalistic edge I have sensed in recent years to deployment of our national flag is subdued by all this materialistic exploitation.

Sixty years ago, the softly draped and somewhat faded Union Jack hanging above every church tower in every town and village was a call to a gentler form of national pride. But somewhere along the line, genteel and understated Britishness was displaced by a more subversive and threatening red, white and blue symbolism.

I don’t know how recent immigrants to our society view this outpouring of public celebration. But I do hope they feel able to participate and wave the flag (as it were) feeling nothing but a very positive pride in a country, which, for all my cynicism, is a pretty good place to be.

If only it would stop raining.

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