Before the 2012 London Games, patriotism was a bit dead in the water: the England flag was simply the football hooligan’s accessory of choice and the Union Jack a nineties throwback.
There was all the rain, the moaning, the economy, the sense of disparity and even despair for the notion that this country was just a bit…crap. We’d had our glory years, and all that was left was a distinct lack of community, positivity, inclusivity.
After a customary pessimistic build-up to the Games, complete with looming grey clouds and predictions of traffic Armageddon, we were set for a lukewarm Olympics.
And then suddenly, it was amazing. Danny Boyle’s redolently nostalgic phantasmagoria of an opening ceremony smacked the whole country and indeed the whole world in the face to remind us just what’s so good about the United Kingdom.
From here, the atmosphere snowballed, and then bouldered, and never really stopped.
Mo Farah smashed the 10,000m, Jessica Ennis actually did live up to the incredible hype, and Andy Murray beat Roger Federer to win the gold at Wimbledon.
The sporting victories of the British athletes, as well as the Games Volunteers, the thousands of spectators and the rallying spirit of the public all melted down and bubbled together into a redefined sense of who we were as a country, and a natural pride which came with it.
Since the Games I’ve seen a few more Union Jacks dotted around the country- a flag at a festival, on a bag in the street- and while it may be fashionably British to grumble a bit and pretend I don’t care, I must admit it’s nice to see a bit of added red, white and blue.