It’s time to fly the flag…

PUBLISHED: 12:21 04 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:09 06 May 2010

Will you be flying the flag?

Will you be flying the flag?

I VE BEEN prepared to give people the benefit of the doubt for a week or so but I think really the time has come to speak up. I had thought, when we were still in April, that those red and white flags which were popping up all over the shop could have bee

I'VE BEEN prepared to give people the benefit of the doubt for a week or so but I think really the time has come to speak up.

I had thought, when we were still in April, that those red and white flags which were popping up all over the shop could have been erected for St George's Day in support of our patron saint.

But April 23 is long gone now so I've had to come to the regrettable conclusion that the flags are there for another reason.

And that reason is, of course, football.

Yep, folks, the World Cup is just a month away and pretty soon every other car will be adorned with silly little flags.

I really don't give a monkeys if people want to spend hours wearing unattractive nylon team shirts, glued to the TV, shouting at the players and the ref when clearly they couldn't actually do any better themselves.

It's not my cup of tea, but it's a free country.

My problem with the whole World Cup/flag erecting thing is that just about the only time people seem to dredge up any sort of national pride is when 11 over-paid men are due to run around on a football pitch a few times.

Now I'd like to make it very clear here that by national pride I'm not talking the BNP "keep England for the English" type but rather the desire to actively look after and help improve where we live.

I wonder how many of those parading their flags from their cars and houses in North Herts and Stevenage have bothered to go along to vote in the local elections today?

Local elections are nowhere near as sexy as football and there's generally less drinking of beer and singing of stupid songs.

But they are a very basic way of demonstrating how important where you live is to you by going along and having your say and trying to make it better.

Clearly not everyone who is a mad keen football fan will be uninterested in local elections but I do think we've got things a bit wrong.

People will reorganise their lives and part with stupid amounts of money to watch a game yet so many of them won't even make the short trip to their local polling station come election time.

Even national elections struggle to get people to tear themselves away from their sofa for the evening to put a cross on a bit of paper.

Surely who's running the country, deciding whether or not we go to war and how much tax we pay is more important than a bit of football?

Yet football will always get people's attention in a way that politics seemingly never will.

Maybe the answer is to make politicians wear football kits - it seemed to work for David Mellor - but I'm not sure I really feel the need to see Tony Blair's legs, even less so Sir Menzies Campbell.

Or maybe we just need to get real and realise what's really important in life.

I'm sure the World Cup is going to be a rollercoaster ride of joy and pain and I hope England do really well.

But if even a little bit of the energy put into football in this country was put into politics, we'd all live in a much more informed, engaged society and feel like we have the power to make positive change.

Surely that's worth a bit of flag-waving?


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