I took a Virgin train to London, speeding through the yellow fields of the Home Counties to the West End. Butterflies always start to flutter in my stomach around Watford Junction as the farmland is replaced by proud Edwardian townhouses backing onto the tracks, and in places you can still see the blackened Dickensian underbelly of the old Victorian city. A quick flash of history, and suddenly Euston – the station that welcomes me to my native south. The excitement is instant: the people, the noise, the buzz…
The whole of London is red, white and blue! You would never guess that up until recently, any overt display of national pride in Britain was associated with political extremism. Fortunately we’ve reclaimed our identity with the double whammy of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic games. It’s OK to wave The Union Jack again, and believe me, everyone’s waving them. It’s been called the Union Jack since 1600 and I think the word Jack has a certain swagger to it, representing the British character: a cheeky kind of resilience, a spark of tenacity beneath our famous reserve. You might hear some apologists calling it the Union Flag, but quite why anyone would want to snip away part of our heritage when the Torch has only just arrived is beyond me.
You’re going to be seeing an awful lot of Union Jacks over the next few months, wherever you are in the world.