THE VIEW FROM HERE AS a tireless monitor of the Island’s social pulse, I was naturally straight on to the case when the Flag Institute announced it would publish a paper settling the dispute over whether our national standard should be known as the Union Jack or the Union flag.
Do not think for a moment this is a mere quibble, a semantic bagatelle that can be of no importance when there are many more pressing matters in the world. Global conflict, energy prices, the constant terror that Michael Gove might be lurking at a school near you, yes, these are issues of deep concern, but where would we British be unless we attend to the protocol and etiquette inherent in the fine details of our national psyche?
We’d be no better than the Americans, that’s what, with their let-it-all-hang-out attitude.
"Don’t sweat the small stuff" is a favourite expression of theirs, which just shows how lax they are. Sweating the small stuff is extremely important, though nobody who does so would ever employ such a vulgar phrase.
Proper respect for detail is what we British do.
So we should pay close attention to the deliberations of the Flag Institute. According to its website, this organisation is a "thriving membership-based flag institute" whose spring meeting this year was "held in the grandeur of the Naval Club in Mayfair" and featured "talks on a variety of flag-related subjects".
Well, who knew? I bet the grandeur of the Naval Club was at bursting point as flag-related subjects were rolled out to the institute’s thriving membership.
One of the subjects would doubtless have been the Union Jack versus Union flag argument, a matter now seemingly resolved.
In advance of the forthcoming paper, an institute spokesman has stated categorically the terms "flag" and "Jack" are entirely interchangeable and either can be used in whatever circumstances the flag is flown.
So is that the end of the matter? I rather think not.
There is a belief, unlikely to be shaken among those who hold it, that when flown at sea it is a Union Jack, while it’s the Union flag on land.
The Island’s many salty seadogs and protocol-aware yachties might be presumed to be pre-eminent in clinging to this tradition, despite the institute producing historically documented evidence the sea/land distinction is a myth.
My researches indicate the Island can lay claim to a number of sailing types who regard the institute’s pronouncement as so much piffle. And I have found non-seafarers who are perfectly relaxed about it. But the issue does not, in fact, primarily depend on whether you’re a landlubber or a seadog.
No, what divides opinion is how you say the words.
If you pronounce our national standard as a "Union Jeck" or a "Union fleg" (imagine the Queen and you’ll get the idea) then one is flown on sea and one on land, thet’s thet, now let’s get orf to the Royal Yawcht Squawdrawn.
If you say "Jack" and "flag", then you’re up there with the institute, flouting tradition but better on historical facts.
But if you couldn’t care less and your only interest in this topic is a pair of red, white and blue underpants you bought in some discount store, then I suggest you remove yourself to America, where you will feel much more at home.
Their flag is popularly known as Old Glory, the Star-Spangled Banner or the Stars and Stripes.
Doesn’t much matter which. They don’t sweat the small stuff.
Blessed good laugh from the Rev Smith
Their perpetrators may act out of naivety, desperation, greed, cruelty or, most usually, a combination of all of these but scams are widespread and, for the gullible, potentially catastrophic.
The IW Council recently issued a warning to residents who may be telephoned by a man claiming to be from Age Concern’s Sandown branch and requesting donations. The caller was not genuine, simply preying on people’s generosity.
Such cases are bad, very bad. But scams can have their lighter moments.
I cherish the e-mail I had claiming to be from Cllr Geoff Lumley, saying he was on holiday in some exotic hotspot and had had his wallet pinched. Could I send the funds to enable him to return to these shores?
The idea of Cllr Lumley lolling on some paradise beach, pina colada in hand, kept me laughing for weeks. This, remember, is a man whose idea of an outing is to walk through Pan Estate on his way to County Hall.
And I’m getting almost fond of the "Rev John Smith", who has been e-mailing me in the most courteous tones. He addresses me as "Dearly Beloved in the Lord" and says he is "deemed right with the auction of the Holy Spirit" to contact me.
He wants my bank details but adds, helpfully: "This is not a scam or spam letter. Remain blessed."
I shall be having a word with the Holy Spirit, him and his auctions. Auctioning off my assets is what I suspect and I’m having none of it.