Another great piece of commentary by David Aaronovitvch in today’s Times. My own limited experience of swearing oaths, however, is not auspicious and hardly qualifies me for recommending it to others. I was 12 or 13 and my friend Brem and I had been persuaded by a third friend, David, to join his Scouts brigade. So on the Friday evening we popped along to the scout hut in Beith, not taking the whole thing seriously to start with. And when they all stood to attention and someone marched to the front of the hall and unfurled the Union flag, Brem and I couldn’t hold in our laughter any longer. We fled, never to return (until one night in 1981 when the hut caught fire and, along with a large crowd, we watched it being consumed by the flames. Very dramatic).
So I’m thinking: if, in 1977, a couple of fairly straight, respectful teenagers couldn’t take a flag unfurling as seriously as those scouts, what are the chances of persuading today’s generation of youngsters? Nevertheless, the idea of an oath swearing ceremony has merit. So does the idea of a Britain or British Day. I know the UK can never be like the United States, but we’re far too quick to look down our noses at a nation that sees nothing wrong – and everything right – in professing love for one’s country. The idea of positive patriotism is unfashionable, but it might become less so if we can actually start talking about it instead of ignoring it.