Putting flags in context

I was delighted when the delivery chap brought my new boots to the door.

Look, they were reduced and they go with EVERYTHING!

Half price, if you don’t mind.

I decided that I would need to introduce them to their new home and my old stomping ground, the Derryveagh Mountains of North Donegal.

I have been buying Karrimor kit since I can’t remember.

Once the makers of damn fine rucksacks, they now make about everything else too for anyone who loves the outdoors.

I noticed that their graphics people have made a clever play on the “K”  by putting it put it back to back like a Rorschach inkblot – well, that’s how it looks to me – resulting in something that looks a little like a subtle union flag.

I checked with the Karrimor folks and a company spokesperson confirmed that the resemblance of graphic to the British flag was entirely intentional.

“It is a key message to underline the company’s British heritage and connection to the UK,” she said.

Karrimor is now owned by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, but I remain loyal.

If these new Karrimor boots let me down then it will be a first for my special K brand.

Two years ago my original Karrimor KSBs – over 25 years old – took me across Northern Spain on El Camino Santiago.

On the penultimate day I noticed a slight tear in the upper.

Re-soled at least five times, I have no complaints.

The first summer “bendy boot” like a Mark 1 Golf, they were rather over-engineered.

The only clothes shop in which I know what I’m looking for is an outdoor one.

This year I plunged into the online January sales with all the glee of Carrie Bradshaw in a Manhattan shoe shop wielding the Russian’s platinum card!

The females in this household chuckled at the man with the quarter of a century-old boots spying a bargain in the sales.

I think they’re rather impressed that I know that the word just doesn’t refer to the yards of canvass that propelled the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria to the Caribbean.

As I zipped up my new fleece I noticed that, with my new trekking trousers and  as I hefted my daysack, I had more union flags adorning me than a denizen of the Shankill road.

It made me smile.

As you will no doubt be aware the Flegs tribe continue to breach the Queen’s peace in Northern Ireland.

Their unruly behaviour is intelligible only to them.

If this is a celebration of their “Britishness” then most of the people in Britain simply look on in puzzlement.

I find it baffling that people who would put themselves in some personal danger in a riot situation because of a professed love for a flag actually treat the British standard itself with quite a bit of disrespect.

I have seen, on more than one occasion, the union jack used as a shawl by some of the flegs boys as they shamble towards police lines in Belfast.

The flag itself is a brilliant design.

In 19th century Europe, festooned as it was with not very imaginative tricolours, the British flag stood out.

It encapsulated the subtleties of the new state after the act of union in Ireland and it is visually striking.

Just as the Sanskrit character for health and wellbeing will always be associated with the criminality of the Third Reich across the planet, many grounded well-informed people do not see the British flag as a benevolent symbol.

Context is everything.

Such nuances are almost certainly beyond the comprehension of the Shankill underclass.

They claim to venerate their fleg, but I’m not convinced.

The union flag, in such areas, seems to be converted into all manner of garments.

Not that the banner subtly adorns a jacket, as would a manufacturer’s label, but the entire item of clothing is, in fact, the union jack.

The fleg seems suitable for all sorts of dresses, shorts and t-shirts.

Is this respectful?

It is precisely these “Ulstur Scots” who attack the police night after night in Belfast.

It is little wonder that the good folk in Britain look on in bewilderment.

Context is everything and the union flag flying over Belfast City Hall EVERY day was the local version of the confederate flag in the Deep South, and I don’t mean Cork.

It was a code which everyone within that culture knew the significance of.

It was saying “we’re still in charge and you’re still in your ghetto”.

The democratic deal reached in December will bring Belfast City Council into line with other town halls in the United Kingdom.

What an affront to Britishness!

Meanwhile, by their actions, the loyalist mob sullies their fleg; attacking their nationalist neighbours and preventing a doctor from visiting the sick.

I cannot imagine buying, let alone wearing, some garment comprised of lots of little tricolours.

To me it seems an awful parody of who you are.

I’m a Gaeilgoir with an Irish passport and a resident of this Republic.

I’m an active supporter of the Gaelscoileanna movement, but you wouldn’t know it to look at me.

However, I’m far more concerned about the current attack on Irish sovereignty and the wellbeing of my people by the IMF to have time or energy to worry about when Donegal County Council flies the tricolour.

It doesn’t matter to me.

James Connolly said that the colour of the flag over Dublin Castle mattered not a jot if the people of the country didn’t come first.

I’m with the Irishman from Edinburgh on that one.

As I sploshed through the Donegal uplands I remained sure footed, and with dry feet my British boots definitely deserve a mention in dispatches.

My enthusiastic and faithful companion, ready equipped with the Mk1 paw, couldn’t smell what all the fuss was about.

So it would appear that from now on, when it comes to a going on the mountains here in Donegal, every day is a designated day for my union flag ensemble.

My attire for the Ulster uplands was fit for purpose, the labels and quasi flags adorning the kit of no consequence to me.

Meanwhile, in Béal Feirste the chosen people of the empire aren’t having a good time.

The rioters want back to the past, to a time when the nationalists weren’t so numerous and so well-educated.

Their road-blocking protests are an embarrassing display of stupidity and social failure.

In the televisual age there could be game possibilities here:

“I’m a loyalist, get me out of here!”

The demographics and the zeitgeist are against them and they know it.

In the meantime it is raining petrol bombs in east Belfast and the Queen’s police have already been fired upon by the Queen’s underclass.

As this illiterate intifada flocks to the fleg my only hope is that this unreality rebellion is finally put down by a well-equipped, but so far apparently hesitant, police force.

I suspect that such a course of action would meet with the approval of the vast majority of Belfast’s residents regardless of their religion or background.

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