Wednesday, 25 February 2015
One of the things that struck me when I visited the USA a couple of years ago was how many national flags one sees. As well as those flying on public buildings, many private houses, at least in New England where I was, had the Stars and Stripes prominently and proudly displayed. It's a much rarer occurrence here in Britain. You will see public buildings flying the Union Flag on certain memorial days, including the birthdays of members of the Royal family. You see red, white and blue bunting here sometimes but it is unusual to see a private house with a proper flag outside. This one is an exception and, from the frayed edge, the flag appears to have been here a while.
I was interested to read that there is a 'Flag code' in the US, covering how and when the American flag can be used. It is, apparently, prohibited to use it in fashion items: 'The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery.' (I'm not sure anyone takes any notice.) The Union Jack, on the other hand, has no such restrictions and has been a prominent symbol on clothing and household items since the 1960s and - as any visitor to London will testify - it is hard to see past it on all sorts of souvenirs and memorabilia. A flag outside a house, however, tends to provoke slight unease and suspicions about far-right politics, quite probably without any justification.