A sense of pride

23 09 2011

For the past few days, I’ve been in Bergen, Norway for various business meetings. This mornings meeting required a high speed ferry to reach the customers office, located in Fonnes (about 1 hour north). So, I find myself waking up at stupid o’clock to board the ferry from Bergen harbour.

Grumbling as I boarded, mostly due to realizing that there now being an 8 in the morning…I clutched the hot coffee to my chest as if it were my first born. Not long after, the Catamaran blasted off at 65KM out towards the fjords. My melancholy feelings were soon erased as we blasted past fairy-tale houses on the waters edge, proudly displaying Norwegian flags outside. I spotted Grey Heron’s (Fisk Hegre) waiting for their breakfast…looking bemused as this white streak shot past them riding high in the black water. I thought to myself…”This is the way to commute” !

Once landed, we had a short drive to the customers office for the meeting. Then, back to the ferry for the return journey. To be honest, I fell asleep for the majority of the return trip. Having worked on ships in the past, it’s like being given a dummy/pacifier..it sends me asleep quickly. Of course, factoring an early start into the mix helped somewhat.

As the gangway came down in Bergen, I was greeted by the site of several young ladies waving Norwegian flags excitedly. My feelings of royalty were soon dashed, as they lept on a group of equally young gentlemen.

However, it was at that point that something occurred to me. Norwegians have a tremendous sense of national pride. They are proud to call themselves Norwegian. Over here, when you look..the flag is everywhere. On cars, outside peoples homes, on their clothing..and in peoples hands. It’s a similar story in America. The “Stars & Stripes” are everywhere you look. Adorning clothing, houses, cars, products…you name it. I spoke to my Danish colleague about this, and he mentioned it’s the same in Denmark. National Identity, National Branding…National Pride.

As you may know, I am English. Walking my English streets…there are no Union Jack flags flying proudly outside houses. Vehicles are adorned with the European Stars flag and GB lettering.  People rarely wave Union Jack flags.

Hand on heart, I don’t know why this is. Are we ashamed to be English. Do we feel that we are being racist, or incite hatred by displaying the Union Jack ? I don’t get it, but this is one of the big things that I notice whilst traveling.

Why are other nations proud of who they are…but the English don’t seem to be ?

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