Anyone up for burning some flags?


Provocative funnyman Charlie Brooker just took the words right outta my mouth and wrote something about the current fashion for hoisting the England flag out of car windows:

Imagine the outcry if government passed a law requiring the nation’s dimbos to wear dunce’s caps in public. No one would stand for it. There’d be acres of newsprint comparing Blair and co to the Nazis. We’d see rioting in the streets – badly organised rioting with a lot of mis-spelled placards, but rioting nonetheless.

Those protesters who burn flags outside embassies have got the right idea – but they shouldn’t be burning them because they disagree with something the country in question has done. They should be burning flags just because they’re flags. And flags are rubbish.

I’m not sure if I dislike flags as such, although I certainly share some of this writer’s concern about recent displays of my country’s emblem:

Is it just me, or is anyone else slightly worried about the number of St George’s flags flying from road vehicles right now? Of course, these displays of patriotism are to be expected in the build-up to next month’s World Cup – which England enters with more confidence than at any time since 1970. This time, though, the flags seem to be on show earlier than ever.

In fact, they started appearing the day after the local elections on May 4. Apart from the Labour meltdown and the Tories getting their first respectable vote for 14 years, the big story of the election was the rise of the British National party, which gained 28 seats, nearly 20 in London alone. Could it be that many of the England flag-wavers are in fact supporters of this racist party, glorying in their “victory” and celebrating their racial pride?

I agree with both articles in that I think that the only reason anyone would want to buy and display their country’s flag is because they are either right-wing or a little bit thick – or possibly, in a tiny minority of cases of course, both. Taking pride in the place where you happen to have been born is, in my humble onion, akin to holding up a piece of paper with ‘MY MUM’S BETTER THAN YOUR MUM’ written on it. At the same time, it is true to say that there have been a lot of people who aren’t white proudly displaying the flag, so it may well be that we are witnessing one of those ‘look at me I’m queer!’ reclaiming-abusive-words-and-symbols-from-the-right-wing moments. I sincerely hope so.

In the meantime, if we do have to distinguish different parts of the world with colours and images on a piece of cloth there is a sound argument for changing that image every couple of months or weeks. I think one representative image of our country over the last few months would be a photo of some people sitting on a tube train on the Hammersmith & City Line looking very, very pissed off. Either that or Damien Hirst cut in half and stuck in a formaldehyde tank. You could have a competition, and the winner could spend a couple of weeks somewhere nice. In a completely different country, for example – like where most flag-waving England fans choose to spend their annual holidays every single year.

I digress. Personally the only reason I’d consider buying a flag is to burn the thing. I really enjoy watching people burn flags; if there was a satellite TV channel dedicated solely to live coverage and classic footage of people burning flags I’d give up my stupid job and spend the entire week glued to it. I genuinely believe that it is one of the most uplifting sights that the human soul can behold.

Of course there’ll be no end of flags on display all over the world in a couple of weeks, which I don’t mind much, not really. As long as they don’t have ‘OLDHAM BNP’ written on them, like some of the ones I saw during the Euro 2004 thing in Lisbon a couple of years ago. I’m certainly not going to be grabbing them out of people’s hands and setting light to them, that’s for sure. The conviviality that attends these events almost makes the spectacle of a ninety minute game of football less spectacularly dull. According to legend, people actually start conversations with strangers on the tube! I can hardly wait.

Not that I’ll be watching all the matches – I’m thinking of organising a flag-burning ceremony in Hyde Park to coincide with the first England match. Anyone care to join me?

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