In March New Zealand got to vote on whether to keep their current flag or get a new one, the Danish media followed the story with interest. Denmark is after all the country with the oldest national flag in the world so I guess they're qualified to discuss this.
In New Zealand the majority (although not a convincing majority) voted ‘no’ to having a new flag and so the current flag remains. Which is fascinating given I’m fairly confident a large and embarrassing number of New Zealanders would not be able to accurately describe or draw our current flag….yet we’re keeping it. The current flag is nice. It’s ours. But it’d be nicer if people were a bit more passionate about it and could draw it - and it wasn’t mistaken for the Australian flag.
The Danes have nailed this flag business. They’re in love with their ‘Dannebrog’ (the name of the Danish flag) and everyone knows how to draw it.
Flagpoles in Denmark are like sheep to New Zealand. They’re everywhere. Our street has one. The Summerhouse has one. Tom, Dick and Harry also have one in their front yards. In New Zealand I can count on one hand where the flagpoles are. You’ll find them at Schools, at Parliament, and outside Auckland Airport. There is possibly a few more places you'll find them but for the sake of brevity and a good story I’ve kept it at three.
When we visited Denmark a few years ago there was much excitement at the Summerhouse with the Danes new erection - a flagpole for his 40th birthday! Shortly followed by the arrival of a friend (let’s call her Rochelle*) from New Zealand who had been given an SOS to bring with her a New Zealand flag to fly alongside the Danish flag on the big flagpole. So when we arrived at the Summerhouse last week the first job for the Dane was to get the flags up. It’s a serious job. Truly, it is. There are rules. Flags must not be flown before 8am or after 8pm (or sunset whatever comes first). The Danish flag must ALWAYS be the highest and biggest flag on the pole. Hence why the New Zealand flag is 2nd in command on said flagpole below. I’m not sure if there are Flag Police. But I like to think there must be because everyone complies and I like the idea of a ‘Flag Police’. I think it could catch on.
So it was good news that New Zealand kept its current flag if only for the reason it meant we didn’t have to buy another New Zealand flag for the Summerhouse.
After hoisting the Danish and New Zealand flag on the flagpole it was then only a matter of time until the neighbours came looking to meet the Australians. We didn’t have to wait long as Mr and Mrs Dane were walking past the house the very next day. Mrs Dane said to Mr Dane “Is that the Norwegian flag?”. Mr Dane taking a good and considered look at the flag in question replied “No, it’s not the Norwegian flag. It’s the Australian flag”. And so they kept walking, Mrs Dane clearly impressed with her husband’s knowledge. It would have been wrong to ruin that moment for him wouldn’t it?
Life lessons this week:
1. It only takes 7 days in Denmark to go from sleet to summer
2. Babies sleep outside in their prams in Denmark (I knew this one earlier but thought I’d re-iterate so as the third and final point makes more sense)
3. When going to a neighbourhood flea market with a baby in a pram one should assign responsibility to one parent for the pram (& baby). If not, an accidentally abandoned pram & baby on a street in Denmark just blends in and life continues happily around said baby with the assumption it’s just another baby that has been put outside for its nap. Don't worry. We eventually found BBB again.
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