Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Fear of flags

I have a strange relationship with my own union flag and I put it largely down to tendencies towards racist discourse when it comes to my own state.

When I was young I learnt to associate the St George and the British flag to a large degree with racism, bigotry and empire.

I wasn't the only one.


At University we would deliberately avoid the pubs that displayed the flag on the outside, because it was often code for narrow minded attitudes inside.

This wasn't exclusively the case, but you can see why I would grow to see the symbol of my nation as something toxic.

From that day to this I have yet to wear one, display one or wave one.

Dark times

To allow you to look through those eyes you might realise why the Olympics that passed a year or so back were interesting for me.

Things were tough here, really tough.

There had been recently been rioting in the capital and many, many people were out of work.

The younger generation was rapidly being lost.

Watching from the cheap seats

Thus the attitude to the Olympics in the media and by many people I spoke to was very jaded, a lot of people saw it as a waste of money.

When it happened I had no tickets for the able bodied events, I simply had the TV.

However watching Jessica Ennis storm to victory on the large TV in the local pub, which did put up the union flag for the occasion, found me shouting wildly at the television.

I dubbed her Superwoman to a friend later.

A hero

To me, she was amazing.

She was short, like myself, she was a woman and she had won a complex athletics event at a time when everything around me looked like failure.

But more importantly than that she was mixed race and she was wrapped in my flag, a double victory.

Those year's of shame at the words that often seemed to be attached to that symbolism was in a moment shaken.

In taking the flag and winning she provided a potent image of an ethnically diverse and successful Britain.

More please.