On the 3rd of July the England football team played Ukraine in the quarter-finals of the European championships. Not a football fan, I did not know of the game. However, in the village, I soon noticed the signs that there was.
Two houses on the edge of our village have flag poles, and this day they both flew the flag of England, the cross of St George. Both houses are undistinguished, being newer-built red-brick properties.
This is not a country that likes to fly the flag. Indeed, the flying of flags is notable because it is so unusual. So seeing the two flags flying made me, and the friend I with whom I was out walking, feel a bit uncomfortable.（註 1）
“I don’t like such displays of patriotism,” I told my friend. We agreed it was not what we would do.
I associate the flag of St George, when it is not displayed in recognition or celebration of an Englishness with which I identify, with things I do not like: a jingoistic patriotism, Brexit and football.（註 2）
My mind began to picture the tenants as a nationalist caricature — white, male, and probably poor and given to a physicality I felt threatening. It was the quintessential image of the football hooligan, and of a certain “lad” culture that I had always found both alien and intimidating. My friend and I walked on passed the two houses. We had planned a day out, and did not wish to dwell on these thoughts.
Seeing the flags did, however, stimulate a conversation on nationalism and patriotism. Both my friend and I were born and raised in Hong Kong, and we began to wonder whether our instinctive discomfort with symbolism of nationalism were a result of our stateless background.
Whether it was the Union Jack or the Five Starred Red Flag that flew over our home, the way we understood and related to these symbols is different — we may respect these flags, but we related to them as subjects and not citizens. They are other peoples flags.（註 3）
The Bauhinia flag, like the flag of colonial Hong Kong, is similar lacking in resonance. Neither are symbols of state, let alone nationhood, but of a subordinate and colonial relationship. This is not to say we don’t relate to these flags, but that the way we relate to them is different. Whilst we both feel a deep attachment to Hong Kong, that attachment is to a way of life, community and culture, than to any sense of belonging to a state.
Here in our new home, England, we talked of how we were discovering a sense of nationhood. We talked of our own feeling of belonging to Hong Kong and of being a Hongkonger, and this fits with our new identities as being British.
For both of us, our patriotism — our love of our homeland — is founded not on an absent state, but on our experience of being part of an open and free society. In England, and in the British identity, we identify with the same core values that had once made us proud of our home.
Was this because Hong Kong had been a British colony? Perhaps to a degree, though this did not mean we had been “British running dogs”. All people value freedom of conscience, expression and thought, as all people if given a choice would wish for an accountable government and to live life free from injustice and the fear of persecution. Dignity is universal.（註 4）
Our pride in our home was because we could be critical, because power was accountable and did not demand blind obedience. Today, we both agreed, we remain proud of our heritage as Hongkongers, but similarly patriotic to the state that represents the Hong Kong we knew — and this is Britain. The patriotism promoted by Beijing is not patriotism as we understand it.
The following day, as I left he village, two flags were again flying. Yet it was not the flag of St George that fluttered proudly in an English breeze, but the flag of the United States of America, the Stars and Stripes. It was the 4th of July, American independence day.（註 5）
Seeing this made me feel ashamed of my prejudice from the day before. The flag of St George did not represent what I had thought it did —it was not a sign of jingoism and intolerance of others. For the people who had raised the flag, it was a sign of support, and perhaps a tribal affiliation with a national football team. This was perfectly consistent with the public celebration of another country, and the acceptance of past wrongs.
Americans may celebrate independence from Britain, but for a British patriotic, this is something also worthy of celebrating.
聖佐治十字（Saint George’s Cross 或 Cross of Saint George），是白底紅十字的符號。最早是熱那亞共和國的旗幟，之後被十字軍採用，最後成為了英格蘭的旗幟。
約公元 260 年，聖佐治出生於巴勒斯坦一個信仰基督教的貴族家庭，後來擔任羅馬騎兵軍官，驍勇善戰。公元 303 年，他因試圖阻止羅馬皇帝戴克里先對基督徒的迫害而被殺。之後，他在公元 494 年被教皇格拉修一世封為聖徒，又成為英格蘭、格魯吉亞、莫斯科、加泰隆尼亞、馬耳他、立陶宛等地的保護神，常被稱為「戰士的聖人」（warrior saint）。
聖佐治死後變成了神話人物，更多次「顯靈」，曾經在土耳其境內現身為民除害，殺了一條火龍，這是公元 1000 年左右出現的傳說。
1277 年，英國根據傳說設計出白底紅十字的「聖佐治旗」（英國國旗），同時以「聖佐治十字」作為英國軍隊的紋章。英格蘭國王愛德華三世（Edward III）將聖佐治定為嘉德騎士（Knights of the Garter）的守護聖徒，並將每年 4 月 23 日定為聖佐治日。
英國國旗公認為米字旗，但米字旗只是英格蘭和蘇格蘭在 18 世紀初合併之後的新旗幟。聯合王國之前，「英格蘭」的「國旗」僅限於紅色十字的白旗，稱為聖佐治旗。
- 第二天，適逢 7 月 4 日，作者見到那兩戶人家已將旗幟換成美國的星條旗。此一感覺，也是另一種複雜：美國之所以獨立，慶祝國慶，首先是慶祝驅除英國皇室的殖民地管治。那麼身為英國人，在美國國慶日，在家門前飄揚美國旗，又是甚麼意思？作者認為，這兩戶人家是接受了英國對美洲的殖民主義管治的錯誤。
因此，在聖十字旗和美國國旗之間，一個混血的香港人，嘗到了層次豐富的身份和民族衝突，這種滋味，將來若有機會，住在英國的 BNO 香港人，或也將有機會感受。