Thursday, 7 June 2012


Patriotism is not a dirty word, although you would think that it was, the way that some people view it.

There has been a lot of patriotism on display during the last few weeks with the run up to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the culmination of which has been the various events that have taken place during the course of these last four days.

The UK  seems very reluctant to "do" patriotism. I don't know if it’s in the more reserved nature of most Brits, but you would never normally see the chanting and flag-waving that we see from our cousins on the other side of the Atlantic.

It may be that we are more multicultural. Whilst the United States has always been a melting pot for all of the world's nationalities, there seems to be far more integration of these "foreigners" into America than there is in the UK. Don't get me wrong, I think that it is vitally important that people do not forget their roots, but I believe that it is equally important that if you wish to make your life in a different country to the one of your birth, with a different culture, you should conform to the new culture. Why make the effort to leave your country of origin in the first place if you are not willing to make that effort?

The difficulty with the multicultural aspect of this country is that sometimes the symbols of nationhood, the Union Flag for example, are hijacked by the extremist element. The British National Party have the Union Flag as their political symbol and the fallout from this is that this flag, this national symbol of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,  is often associated with right wing extremist views and is likely to alienate, rather than integrate, immigrants to this country.

There is also an almost cynical element which makes patriotism uncool, making people feel that it is wrong to be proud of the nation from which they come. But again, I believe that this is because it has been hijacked by elements that use patriotism as an excuse to cause trouble. How often have we seen images of English football crowds in various foreign countries, their faces painted with the Cross of St George, or the crowds adorned in red and white, fighting with local people or the local Police? And I use the word English deliberately, as it is rare in this day and age that there are reports of Scots, Welsh or Northern Irish doing the same.

And this leads to another problem. If one of the home nations qualifies for a competition, the team management will often call for "the entire nation to get behind the team". But when that team is England, which it so often is, I suspect that many Scots, Welsh and Irish are reluctant to "get behind a team" whose "supporters" are linked to so much violence and destruction.

I will be interested to see what happens in Ukraine during the Euro championships that are about to start, particularly when there is so much reporting, in this country at least, of how extreme and right-wing the Ukrainian "fans" are.

But I digress. The sort of patriotism that we have seen over the last week or so is the sort that you would hope to see. Whole families, or all ethnic backgrounds, waving Union Flags and singing patriotic songs, to some extent mirroring our American cousins. But unlike them, now that the celebrations are over, there is that risk that Britons all over this nation will resort to the non-demonstrative race that existed prior to the Jubilee, and this will give the extremists the opportunity to hijack once more the symbols of our Nation.

So where do I stand? When I joined the reserve Forces 11 years ago, I had to declare the following:
"I solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors and that I will as in duty bound honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, her heirs and successors in person, crown and dignity against all enemies and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors and of the generals and officers set over me."
I made this declaration freely and willingly. I think that that answers the question.

The Union Flag: a red cross over a red saltire, both with white border, over a dark blue background.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Memory loss

How embarrassing is that? Having started out with all those good intentions to this year maintain a regular blog, I end up not writing anything for so long that I forget the sign-in information! Still, all sorted out now.

It’s been so long since I last blogged that I can't actually remember whether or not we had the threatened snow. I think that we did but that it was nowhere near as severe as expected.

I do remember that we had a mini-heatwave and I think that it was actually the warmest March in the UK since records began. But that's all changed and we've returned to normal service.

The problem that I was having with the previous landlord now seems to have resolved, or rather, he gave me an ultimatum threatening legal action and I reciprocated, also threatening legal action. He backed down and all is resolved. The added bonus is that as a result of everything that was happening, the letting agent was being "unhelpful", so I emailed her a snotagram, copying in one of the partners from the estate agents, and she has had a 180 moment, now being extremely helpful.

So the new house is really starting to look like a home. Admittedly, there are still boxes, mainly containing books, that have yet to be unpacked, but they will have to wait until we've bought (yet more) bookcases.

No. 1 Son has, unfortunately, now been discharged from the Army. Sadly, the injury that he suffered to his ankle was such that, having had two lots of surgery, the Army has told him that he will be unable to train for about 2 years, although he has a place at Sandhurst available for the next 5 years.

In the meantime, he has been applying to various universities to get a degree in history, and has a provisional place at the University of Hull. The advantage of this is that one of his best friends from school is already at Hull. The downside is that when Alec left school, he actually had a scholarship from the Army to go to university, but had turned it down to go straight to Sandhurst as he was fed up with studying, so he will have to pay for it himself, although the compensation that he will get from the Army should help.

No. 2 Son continues to do well at college on his programming course, although the amount of time that he spends on the computer does worry me. I suppose if he's to make it his career, and he can make his first £million by the time he's 30, I shouldn't really discourage him.

Maggie has been conspicuous by her absence of late, but this is because her mother arranged for her to have an exchange to France, and she has been staying at her Godmother's house near Toulouse for the last six weeks. The only communication that we have had has been via Skype, as it was far too expensive to call her.

She arrived back in the UK this week, but I still haven't seen her as mother had arranged for her to go on a narrow boating trip pretty well as soon as she got back in the country!

Hopefully, she and Alec will be coming over for lunch next Sunday.

In the meantime, since I last blogged, I have carried on much as before, both civilian and military-wise. However, it has been the military aspect of my life that has given me the most opportunity, and just last week I attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace as a military helper. This was organised by the same people that also gave me an opportunity to attend a Christmas party at St James's Palace last December.

The Honorary Colonel of my Territorial Army Squadron is also the Chief Executive of the Not Forgotten Association, a charity that provides help and support to both serving and ex-servicemen and women. We, along with various other military organisations, are asked to provide personnel to assist the older and more infirm guests, which we are always happy to do.

I was also able to see the preparations that were being made for the concert that will take place in front of Buckingham Palace this evening, part of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

I watched some of the River Thames pageant yesterday, but the coverage by the BBC is now being severely criticised. I didn't see any problems, personally. It was a shame, however, that it rained so heavily during the actual pageant, but I don't think that the BBC can be blamed for that.

The Queen's Jubilee has also meant that I have received another medal, The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, which is my second, The Iraq Medal being my first. However, I should receive my third this year, the Volunteer Reserves Service Medal, although I don't think that I will get that until later this year.

So in the meantime, I shall carry on as before, and hopeful blog more frequently. Now to have dinner before the Jubilee concert begins.