Not literally. I’ve just seen some of it. But that has been enough to make me think: “Ach, who gives a damn?” There’s a school of neo-Taoist thought that says the best way to chill out and realign yourself with the universe is just to say, “F*** it”. Try it. Kind of works.
If you’re a politician, don’t say it in a speech, mind. The unenlightened wouldn’t understand, particularly at First Minister’s Questions.
Having surprised you with the expression ‘neo-Taoist’, let me return to the subject of agitation, by way of saying that friends of mine have been jumping up and subsequently down with rage.
They’re nice people, thoughtful people, dare I say it, middle-class people. What, you say, has upset their inner karma, what has riled them so?
All this ruddy red, white and blue, that’s what. And we’ve got hardly any of it, compared to the loony bin generally referred to in polite circles as ‘south of the border’.
One of the aforementioned friends, admittedly a republican of nationalist views, said that on a visit to a friend south of the border, as soon as he crossed into their ‘northeast’, the whole place exploded in red, white and blue.
He said: “Everything that didn’t move was plastered in it, and even the occasional dog got it. I heard budgies chirping God save the Queen. It was uncanny, scary. The ghastly trinity of colours is everywhere. Every shop window. Every other lamppost. You got the feeling that if you didn’t festoon your hoose in this pish, sinister people would pay you a visit.” And yet I saw hardly any of this in Scotland.
One old-aged pensioner’s hoose about 300 yards away put up a bit of bunting, but that was our lot. Makes you kind of proud.
The occasion, of course, was the somethingth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II of Englandshire and I of Scotia Minor. However, while the citizenry in the latter nuthouse didn’t go doolally for Liz, the supermarkets and English-headquartered chains did.
Having lied that I don’t get agitated by much nowadays, I must admit when I turned up to shop at Lord Sainsbury’s with a non-political friend, I frothed at the mouth on seeing the sea of massive Union Flags on the supermarket’s frontage. I intimated adamantly that I was not going in but, as usual, was admonished to grow up and stop being so stupid. Good call, I suppose.
But I deeply resented having this stuff rammed down my throat. It’s political. No two ways about it. Sure, it could just be the insensitivity and ignorance of middle-managers in London failing even to consider the offence they might cause. Sure, you could argue, like the Craven Scotch and associated Patriots for Powerlessness, that she is the Queen and this is Britain, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so ya-boo sucks. It is what it is. And yet.
My dislike was instinctual. My resentment intellectually arguable. Theoretically, I don’t even mind the Union Flag. Practically, I do, because of what it has become. But it could and should be reclaimed. We’ll still be part of Britainshire when we’re independent, and there’s nowt much wrong with a communal flag to state our continuing solidarity.
But, at the moment, everyone and his unadorned dug knows it’s a unionist symbol at a time of crucial constitutional debate. The Craven Scotch clothe themselves in the Saltire when it suits them, so in some ways that standard belongs to all north of the border, even the disingenuous and treacherous. But the Union Flag, at the time of going to press, is the symbol of one side.
As for the Royal Family, I don’t really have strong views on the subject. Like most Scots, I dislike privilege, pomp, circumstance, and all. But I dislike picking on individuals, and feel there are more important things to worry about. And I don’t mind people enjoying themselves.
But the sycophancy of the Middle English press is not to be experienced on a full stomach and makes you want to pop down to John Lewis for a set of tumbrils. Except that John ruddy Lewis is festooned in Union Flags an’ all.
The worst thing is it doesn’t end when the Queen has finished having her knees-up. The Olympics provide another excuse for British semiotics.
Frankly, I’ll be glad when the Euro 2012 footer championship gets under way, and St George’s Crosses replace Union Flags for a while. I’ll be supporting England, of course, and hope they get to the final. Where Ireland thrash them 7-0.
Lord only knows what other Britophilia they’ll conjure up between now and 2014.
National David Starkey Day? Glasgow Rangers staying in the SPL? A Save the Scotsman campaign?
But maybe it will all end some time. With apologies to Auden: Take down the bunting, get on the phone, Make the dogs bury red, white and blue bones, Sound the piano and with muffled drum, Bring out the coffin, the damned thing is done.