In the past few years we have seen an uncomfortable sea-change in Britain. All across our 4 beautiful countries we have seen our individual national flags being hijacked for political gain. When this began is unclear.
Some may argue that the Flag of St George was kidnapped by the National Front in order to promote a very insular view of what England should be like. Others may comment that the Scottish Saltire, or Flag of St Andrew, has similarly become the symbol of the Scottish Separatists.
All Great Britain’s nations have proud histories. While they may celebrate their individuality, the fact that we are also “British” does not stop us from being English, Northern Irish, Welsh or Scottish, in just the same way that being part of Europe does not stop the French from being proud of being, well French.
There is nothing wrong with being British! Although, if you look at any satirical tomb, or Hollywood film which encapsulates what it is like to be British, we are often made out to be bumbling fools (Hugh Grant Characters, or Mr Bean). We may be partly to blame for this as we are rather self-effacing, and almost cowed by our Imperial past.
Take the online now famous Twitter writers of “Very British Problems” (Click here if you haven’t seen them, they are rather funny). You will see that our wonderful nation could be perceived as being full of somewhat negative fools who drink tea, queue obsessively, talk about the weather and complain.
Ok, we do drink a vast amount of tea, although since the arrival of Starbucks et al, we have embraced coffee. We do talk about the weather a lot, but then again, as my Grandma used to say “if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes!” We also love to queue. As a prime example of the British love affair with queueing, I will share a personal anecdote. 2 years ago we went on a Club Med holiday to Italy, as I have children and wanted the all-inclusive thing rather than the constant nagging for a few Euros every 5 minutes for a drink or ice cream. Every encounter with the bar staff made the rugby scrums with the bar tenders having a “he who shouts loudest” priority system. Roll on a year and we’re at a Spanish First Choice All Inclusive resort, full of people from all corners of the British Isles. I confess that I burst out laughing as there was always a polite queue at the bar. If anyone dared to queue barge, there was a near riot! Ok, it was actually more like low level harrumphing, but you get my point. Our national quirks are ingrained in our communal DNA.
Since the almost caustic campaigning for last year’s Yes/No Referendum on Scottish Independence, some people have taken the waving Andy Murray on with the Flag of St Andrew at Wimbledon rather than the Union Flag as being almost offensive to the British! They will grumble that he is playing for Britain – true, he is, but he is still Scottish and proud to be so. This brings me to the good news.
The Rugby World Cup is in town and all 4 nations can celebrate their own sporting super heroes without a hint of politics. At last we can bring out our flags and bunting, bedeck ourselves with national t-shirts, hats, scarves or button badges and wear them with pride. We can sing Jerusalem, Flower of Scotland, Land of my Fathers or Ireland, Ireland Together Standing Tall to our heart’s content because we want to support our home grown talent. We want them to win and contrary to popular politically correct thinking which says it’s the taking part that counts – rubbish! Winning feels great!