At a time when the nation is struggling to cope with the ineptitude and sheer incompetence of its government, what better time to celebrate a great victory? The victory against Hitler in Europe was indeed a great victory, but judging by the flag flying on this 75th anniversary it was one achieved solely by mighty Britain herself (by which of course we understand England). Never mind the Soviet Union, the United States, our colonies and ‘commonwealth’ and free forces from elsewhere. In the current context, when the British spirit is personified in the body of a buffoon and a charlatan, all we need to do to restore our confidence in our exceptional capacity to overcome adversity is to fly the flag. So, I have joined the flag-flying brigade, and from my top window now hangs the Canadian Maple Leaf. This is both a subtle protest against what I call ‘Union Jackism’ but also a respectful reminder of my father’s wartime contribution. I don’t think anybody would consider 58 missions with Bomber Command anything less than heroic—and very lucky of course.
He was a Canadian and was signed up from 1939 all the way through to 1945, first with the RAF then the RCAF, much of the time as a ‘tail end Charlie’ (a rear gunner on bombers, Wellingtons in his case) and later qualified as a pilot. I have to say I think he signed up as fast as he could for the excitement and the adventure as much as anything else, he wasn’t particularly political. A documentary on the remarkable spy Eddie Chapman the other night on BBC4 may have captured the motivations of quite a number of young men at the time, although Chapman did have making money in mind. He was a professional criminal after all. But so far as I can tell seeking to escape the Great Depression (which lasted a long time in Canada) was one of the motivations for my Dad signing up with the RAF as soon as he possibly could. He worked his crossing to the UK in a cattle boat, and also, so far as I can tell never regretted his choice. I write this on the eve of the celebratory day, and as my Maple Leaf flutters outside, I wonder in what way we will be told it was just us Brits standing alone against Fascism who won the war. Just as we are doing everything just at the right time today and have the best possible record fighting the ‘invisible mugger’ who it seems caught us by surprise. When will people realise that Johnson’s model is Chamberlain, not Churchill? I wish I had more flag poles. I could use one or two of them to stick up his arse. Spirit of 1940!