It’s exactly a year since we voted in the UK to leave the European Union and I’m still trying to recover from the shock. It’s taken a year for us to get to the beginnings of negotiations and they kicked off this week in Brussels, with disagreement, of course.
Although a second Independence Vote in Scotland looks more distant than it did last year, I thought I’d repost a poem I wrote in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. It still could happen that the Great British Union falls apart, and in the event of such a thing, we are going to need a new flag.
As it would appear to be a lot easier to dissolve unions than work to keep them together, maybe you too should get your new flag of identity ready, just in case anyone else splits off from any one else they can’t agree with, ad infinitum…
Just a suggestion, then:
I’m planning to fashion a brand new flag
one where the rivers of blood don’t run
as red as the cross suspended dead
on white, in the gap between triangles of blue
like the azure sky and the battle cry
when prayer to St Andrew came true
(that very un-Scottish apostle who left his nets
by the salt of the lake, for the catch would be human too).
My flag will do without the kiss shaped cross
– the crimson saltire: Patrick’s sign.
He wasn’t a martyr to the cause
like that most un-English gentleman, George,
and unlike poor St Andrew’s cross, he didn’t discover
that X marks the spot where you lose your breath.
He followed the faith, but not to death.
My flag will hang together by more than a thread,
its colours and shapes finely tuned like a song
both written and played and conducted by me.
Nostalgia will rule, like Britannia the waves
on my island divorced from the rest of the slaves.
I’ll have green for the ground and white for the clouds,
for the raindrops a shade of Welsh grey,
an umbrella will do for the crest; it’s the best
of the symbols when martyrdom’s put away.
I’ll be committee and board and king
and authority, parliament, judge;
there’ll be no dissent, no bullying head
or continuing historical fudge,
no union of parts with sharp edged hearts
no fighting, no promises broken
no mornings of doubt when luck has run out
and the food bank lady so softly spoken.
The red and the white and the blue, so nearly true
not to mention the gold on the blue. Stars in the heavens now
fallen to earth. Such flags all torn.
Can they be mended
now that something has ended?
For sewing together and piecing together is hard
like the ground when you fall by the hand
of a friend. Like guns when peace has come to an end.
So a flag of my choice is the only voice I can hear
as the papers fly up in the air
and the vote of the summer blows far and near.