Flying the flag

Colin Crouch’s letter (Observer, last week) is difficult to understand but appears seems to reflect a sad, rambling diatribe of a confused and embittered old man.

I gather Mr Crouch was once a teacher of some sort at the local comprehensive school and, like me, was summoned by Her Majesty to undertake national service for two years.

My letter started ‘In the hope the yobs...’, which Mr Crouch has changed to ‘yobbos’ and then claims ‘the’ dictionary defines this as ‘uncouth working-class persons’.

The Oxford English, Chambers and Collins dictionaries I possess define ‘yob’ in the colloquially-understood words as meaning ‘lout or hooligan’; ‘bad mannered aggressive youth’, and ‘a teenage loafer; a lout’.

Time to get a decent dictionary, perhaps, Mr Crouch?

Having served as a non-commissioned officer in the Army Investigation Branch and Intelligence Corps, I actually did all the Queen asked of me and, I hope, very much more.

Remarkably, I actually understand the recognised protocol of raising and lowering the flag and poor old crotchety Crouchy still, clearly in his confused twilight years, seems to think only officers understand these complex matters: how sad!

However, the Union flag flies again now, thanks to the help of a neighbour, and Jill and I have heard nothing but thanks and praise for flying it for the benefit of all proud Englishmen and women.

And the flag of St George flies on February 23 each year.

And, no, it is not raised and lowered but if Mr Crouch, or any other officer, wishes to do this for me, then I shall be most grateful.

But I have no doubt flying the flag constantly is to be preferred to not flying it at all!

Perhaps Mr Crouch could pass his vast knowledge on flag flying to Aldwick Parish Council for, some years ago, I resurrected from their attic a flag pole and flags.

I erected, strung and fixed the mast, and raised and lowered the flag as commanded by Her Majesty on those designated days of which I gave the-then clerk a list while instructing him on the procedure.

I also trained the current clerk but still no flag flies on Remembrance Sunday, St George’s Day or the Queen’s birthday.

It was flown for a couple of hours on one occasion and then came down when the clerk went home.

I pressured full council on this for years, trying to shame them into recognising the monarch – then did it myself! And one of them claims to have been ‘officer class’!

To extend Mr Crouch’s education, the beach is ‘private’ from, roughly, the yachting compound opposite West Park, right through Craigweil and Aldwick Bay to the Pagham boundary – and maybe a little beyond.

All this beach is also designated ‘Craigweil House Conservation Area’ and a Site of Special Scientific Interest with extremely rare plants otherwise found only in Australia.

Lastly, since my CV appears to be so important, may I record I joined the police in Portsmouth but resigned (without any pension) as the Detective Sergeant in charge of the forensic science unit when I saw the newly-amalgamated service rapidly deteriorating.

I opted for a career in civil engineering and passed on a successful company to my son when I had to retire after some 30-odd years.

I dealt with many murders and grave crimes but only investigated one death in a police station – a drunk, thought to be asleep – but so grossly intoxicated he died of alcohol poisoning, not acquired in police custody.

He could not have been saved.

Richard D Ostler

The Drive