Sunday, 1 January 2012

365 Reasons To Be Proud To Be British: The Union Flag

January 1st: The Union Flag (as we know it today) is first flown.

The Acts of Union passed in 1800 came into effect on January 1st 1801 and so the Union Flag was revised into the form we see today.

I remember little about my junior school education. It was a rather progressive place, stuffed full of slightly hippyish teachers who believed in a child's right to self-expression and the power of play. And learning mathematics via the use of continued use of Cuisenaire rods. And singing Pink Floyd songs at morning assembly (no, I'm not joking).

Because I'd already had a year or two at a decent primary school I'd had some proper eduction knocked into me. So I usually rattled off the hippy  lessons in swift order. But I didn't fancy playing in the sandpit (sorry, 'tactile learning environment in the courtyard') afterwards. So, I drew flags instead.

Which is why, from an early age, I've been one of those annoying sods that points out when a Union Flag is flown upside down. Because the broad white band of the St Andrew's white cross should be above the red band of the St Patrick's cross in the top corner nearest the flagpole.

As this splendid diagram by J.D.A Wiseman illustrates:

So, what else have I learned about Union Jack today?

- the white stripes are examples of fimbriation

- the scientific study of flags is vexillology

- no-one's really sure what happened to Geri 'Ginger Spice' Halliwell's Union Jack dress after it was sold at auction to the owner of Hard Rock Cafe

- that dress was made from a Union Jack tea towel sewn onto a Gucci dress

- Firestone Walker's Union Jack IPA is ranked the 25th best IPA in the world on And I still haven't tried it.

By Simon Johnson with No comments


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