Thursday, August 19, 2010

Flag fever

I'm writing about the Americanization of the UK over at Pond Parleys, (tongue in cheek), and thought I'd add another observation here.

Flying the Flag - what's going on? It used to be that Americans flew their flag, wore their flag and generally displayed it whenever and wherever possible.  This summer in England however, the Union Jack is on everything. Next has clocks, rugs and wall art (above left) in the old red, white and blue. Department stores now have stationery with flags everywhere and I bought myself a lovely big bag from Accessorize with Union Jack + flowers last week.(above right ).

It's OK for me to do it; I don't live here and when I go back to Chicago I'll be (hopefully) the only person with such a bag. (Actually, it's great for me as I have about three birthday presents to take back to the States and a positive plethora of Brit things to choose from.)

But Brits - carrying flaggy things? Unheard of.



  1. Love the bag!
    I did laugh at the "cup cake" maker, my goodness, I never knew I needed one!

  2. Very unBritish!

    But I like the bag.

  3. I love it, love it, love it. The Union Flag is total bad ass and deserves to be on lots. Seriously, the best flag design in the world IMHO. However, I've had a few Brits tell me that it is considered by some to be racist to wear it or display it. Some say they won't put it on their blogs. Such a shame. I certainly don't think it deserves the same rap as the Rebel flag and Germany hasn't chucked theirs now have they? We have no trouble slappin' the Stars and Stripes on anything, anywhere, so go for it I say. Wear it with pride.

  4. I love the bag.
    Quite a few people wore England shirts because of the World Cup..... but I don't see any other patriotic things where I live.In London....... yes! However, I think it is a good idea to be proud of our country. It needs a bit of a boost!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  5. I noticed the increase in the number of flags when I was there this month too - both 'real' flags and flags on 'stuff.' As you said, it made it easier to buy gifts - though Walmart was selling girls' T shirts with the Union Jack on them earlier this year as I noted in my post about our local 4th of July parade!

  6. I am famously 'allergic' to flags of any kind (I guess it's memories of NF skinheads and bovver boots from my youth).

    As a result, the only person in our Greek-Brit household who doesn't have the Union Flag on their keyring, laptop, chest, etc. is the only 'True Brit'!

    If you're interested, I waffled on about the Brits' strange, strained relationship with patriotism back in April this year:

  7. It's always saddened me that the English have allowed hooligans to monopolise the St George Cross.

    The Welsh are very much proud patriots - the Red Dragon flies all over the place and I've always been very glad about that. Perhaps it's not surprising, since our flag is much more interesting!

    This reclaimation of the Union Flag, however, seems driven by the prevaling "retro" trend in accessories and decoration. I think it may all stem from the "Keep Calm and Carry On" tea towels actually:

  8. It's funny you write this - I've noticed the Union Jack on everything too. I had to sigh heavily in John Lewis where i saw it as pillows, a throw rug and tiny scatter cushions. Oy!

  9. Do you remember the ginger Spice Girl in THAT dress? *shudders* Nope, not a fan either.

  10. Maybe 60s retro is in at the moment. The wannabe Mary Quants also liked slapping the Union Flag onto designs.

  11. It is weird isn't it? Because it's all over everything - but mostly in either a sort of sexpistolsy (new word) rock way or a cathkidstony libertyish flowery print way.... I don't think it's changed the fact that we'd think anyone who had a flagpole in their garden was deeply weird and probably psychotic too, would it?

    But a flowery bag? That's quite another thing (and a very nice one too!)

  12. Love it! When I go home next year I'm going to stock up. It's amazing how patriotic I've become since I left the country!

  13. Yes, there were a lot of the "Keep Calm and Carry On" things in Debenhams the other day. I didn't buy any as I don't think it would translate well across the Pond. They also have variations on the theme, with one set of coasters saying "Stop whining and deal with it".
    I have to say my kids love wearing Sex Pistoly (thanks for the word there) t-shirts, with a hint of a Union Jack on them. I bought the Man-Child one in Asda with a black and white flag on it. Very cool.

  14. Today while at the pool in Morocco, I thought of your blog post. I was sitting with my American flag towel, when I saw a Morccan man with his Moroccan flag towel! It was the first time I saw a Moroccan flag on a towel. I asked him where he bought it and he said there are a lot of shops selling it now.

    In the mid-70's, in Denver, a co-worker of mine was actually arrested for wearing a flag patch on her clothing. The police said it was forbidden to use the flag on things have really changed a lot in one generation!

    Mary in Marrakesh
    Expat Abroad in Morocco

  15. It is an awesome flag, and I love to see it. I take photos of it when I see it around. When I first moved to USA, I had one alongside hubby's American flag outside our house.
    We eventually took both down but I still have one on my car :-)

  16. Mary - actually, according to the flag rules (which I was researching for something last year) it really is illegal to use the US flag for things like merchandise!

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  18. The Union Jack does seem to be popping up everywhere, even on a couch pillow in the new BBC series, Sherlock.

    I have the "Keep Calm and Carry On" mousepad in my office workspace. Always a good conversation starter.

  19. Really? I guess I should take down the Union Jack from the front garden then.


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