Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Cross of St George

A few notes as a contribution to the phenomenon of the resurgent Cross of St George.

Yesterday the nursery school had a red and white day. My children rarely participate in such events because either I don't ever realise that they're on, or because I forget. I'm not sure which one it was this time. Anyway, the colours were everywhere, not least on the nursery assistants, and everyone seemed very good-humoured about it.

Today at Sainsbury's, one of the supervisers had the flag painted on her cheeks and offered similar treatment to whoever passed. So both Sons 2 and 3 walked out with their faces bespattered in red and white.

It is all making some people very nervous. My wife for one, and a couple of our generation who spoke to us the other night about their severe misgivings. All three remembered the Seventies and the National Front marching under the Cross and no-one else, save a parish church or two, daring or wishing to unfurl it. Having been in another country at the time, I have no such associations and find it healthy.What was unhealthy was the neglect it used to suffer. There were good reasons for that.

When you manage an empire, from a country that is already an amalgam of three or four, it is good sense to stress the Union of all rather than the particular country that heads the Union. The empire is gone and even the Union is, if not shaky, certainly not the first claimant of loyalty. Much of the older sentiment had transformed into the universalist illusions of the Unitied Nations, but that is both unsustainable and increasingly ridiculous. The Cross of St George has been reclaimed by a majority that were otherwise orphaned of allegience. It doesn't belong to the nutters now, but to a country that is growing normal.

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