According to a distant cousin that I met once at an even more distant uncle’s funeral, I am related to Jack Crawford.

For those who are unfamiliar with the name, Jack Crawford was apparently a sailor whose story is the origin of the phrase, ‘to nail one’s colours to the mast’. Folk legend has it that Crawford was ordered to surrender during the battle of Camperdown and refused to do so – instead, he allegedly climbed into the ship’s rigging and hammered the Union Flag (thereafter called the Union Jack) to the mast. This act ended up winning the battle for the United Kingdom. Crawford was hailed as a hero, and presented to the king from whom he received a generous pension.

There’s a great deal of debate surrounding his story, and in all likelihood, his is not the Jack attached to our national symbol. That said, the rest holds true, as does his rise to minor celebrity and his subsequent fall to the bottom of a bottle.

I’d like to think that the centuries between he and I have done away with the inclination to alcoholism and strengthened that stubborn refusal to fail.

Because this is me, nailing my colours to the mast. They’re blue, and yellow, and unlike the Union Jack, are not marred by war. The flag of the EU is associated the world over with bringing peace to Europe, and it’s an ideal I plan to uphold.

Article 50 was triggered today, but it wasn’t done so in my name.

From where I stand, fighting something like this on an international stage sometimes seems insurmountable, especially when those in government keep ploughing onwards with little regard for the incredible amount of dissent amongst the population. But we can fight it. And we should fight it.

This isn’t maths. Two negatives will never make a positive – hate only breeds more hate. It’s hard to look forward and be hopeful right now when there is nothing but doom from both sides of the argument, but that’s the only way we’re going to fight this thing; with love.

Small acts of defiance can be as simple as giving a European food to the food bank, having some friends round for a European themed supper or singing Nena’s 99 Luftballon’s in the original German. Download Duolingo and learn a second or third language, or watch a weird Danish movie – I’d recommend Adam’s Æbler, or Blinkende Lygter. There are countless thousands of ways in which you can nail your colours to the mast – today and every day – and show that no matter what our government decides to do, that culture, love and hope with transcend petty borders. Like it did in the Enlightenment, like it did in the Renaissance, and as it still does now.

 

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