As a child I was made to sit by a road that the Queen’s car was to travel en route to open a new hospital. It was a hot summer’s day and well before parents and teachers knew to cover children in factor 50.
I remember we were given Union Jack flags on wooden sticks. By the time the Queen’s car passed by us children were hot, thirsty and I couldn’t join in the frenzy of flag waving as I’d lost mine.
The Union Jack didn’t have especially negative connotations and I remember owning a red, white and blue purse that was an emblem of the ‘swinging sixties’.
In the 1970s that changed and the Union flag became strongly associated with the neo-Fascist National Front whose members could be identified by small enamel Union Jack NF badges.
I wonder who remembers Mrs Thatcher’s rage at British Airways when the Union Jack gave way to colourful abstract artwork.
This history leaves me feeling ambivalent about the UK’s national flag and I couldn’t help feeling hysteria had set in when I spotted Union Jack loo rolls.
I don’t expect much of the merchandise was manufactured in the UK where at least there is the (admittedly low) minimum wage and advantage of local suppliers avoiding environmentally harmful shipping and air freight.
The distraction of the Jubilee weekend came in the nick of time for the government. In the UK a respected survey of manufacturing shows a slump that is a serious warning that growth is a very long way off.
The former energy secretary Chris Huhne has been in court accused of perverting the course of justice. Meanwhile culture secretary Jeremy Hunt put up a half-hearted performance at the Leveson inquiry.
Add to this the u-turn on the ‘pasty tax’, static caravans and taxation of charitable donations and Cameron, Clegg at al must be jumping for joy as much of Britain stokes up the barbeque and ices fairy cakes.