2012 was the year that millions of Britons ended up with sore arms as they deliriously waved flags during the Olympics and Paralympics. Londoners too waggled the Union Jack with enthusiasm. Had the host city been St Albans or Durham, residents could have waved the official flags of those cities. But Londoners were unable to do that because the Smoke does not have an official flag. The City of London has one but the City is just a square mile in a huge conurbation and that flag does not represent Greater London. Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast have flags. So do Moscow, Rome, Paris, Sydney. New York City has one and so do each of its boroughs. London is a major world city - can it have an official flag please?
Think of music that comes to mind with the word 'Barcelona' - was it the dramatic song by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe? What about New York - Liza Minnelli singing about wanting to be a part of it? Or Chicago - that toddlin' town. No city can beat London for the number of songs about, or inspired by the city - there are hundreds. But there isn't a London song that everyone can sing together, that makes people feel proud, that is musical shorthand for the positive aspects of the city. 'London Calling' by the Clash is brilliant but it is a protest song. 'Waterloo Sunset' does not mention London, and Ralph McTell's 'Streets of London' is about homelessness and loneliness. 'London Pride' by Noel Coward sings about the flower of the same name. They are all great songs but surely a city as incredible as London deserves an official anthem to celebrate it- a song to sing with pride!
London is a superstar amongst cities and that is why I am running a competition to find a song and flag for London. Whichever song or flag wins the competition will be sent to the London Assembly with a petition and a plea for them to be adopted as the official motifs of London. If anyone agrees with me then please write a song or design a flag and submit them to the competition or sign the petition - website details via my Twitter address below. Residency in London is not a prerequisite for entry. My loved-up state of mind about London has already inspired me and I have co-written a song with composer Emily Leather and co-designed a flag with designer Louisa Fitch. If we sell any songs or merchandise we will donate a percentage of royalties to two London charities (homeless and vulnerable children), and to Oxfam. Whichever person wins the song and flag competition will also be asked to donate a percentage of royalties to London charities.
Next time Londoners en masse sing together they might be singing the rousing new anthem and waving the official flag. Endorphins will hit their brains causing a pleasure shower and life will be beautiful. How many people in the Olympic Stadium joined in the chorus of 'Hey Jude' and 'Our House' at the Olympics and Paralympics opening ceremonies - a majority of the audience - all wreathed in smiles and full of joy. In Britain we do need a reason to sing together. So who wants to write the excuse for Londoners to belt out a happy anthem in unison?
Follow Jane Peyton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/schoolofbooze