Britannicus, a, um
RANGE: A Brownie passing as a Bogie and more British than the British, the Union Jack is actually of lowland Scots origin, and, not surprisingly, makes his North American headquarters in British Columbia, Canada. He may be found loitering near the cricket pitch, warming beer or misdirecting darts in any plasterboard and plastic Ye Olde Pubbee, looking down his nose at the “colonials.”
HABITS: Union Jack inspires females of English descent (and of would-be English descent) to wear their glasses on sticks and devote such time as is not spent swilling Twining’s Tea with the vicar, to knitting scratchy nose warmers for the Royal Family. These women’s husbands (often of Mediterranean origin) have gone so far as to shave their backs and stuff Dunhill cigarette filters up their noses in attempts to pass themselves off as English. It is an illusion fostered by the Union Jack that everything British is more cultured and dignified and superior, and that everything not British is crass, tasteless, and common. Thus, a colorful tin of sawdust buns from Blightly commands a premium price in the Gourmet Shoppes of BC, as do fat tyred, twenty-stone, cast iron Raleigh bicycles and five-pound cardboard business brogues hand-tooled by Pakistani craftsmen in Lancashire. Union Jack finds maximum scope for his activities on such patriotic occasions as the Queen’s Birthday, the Queen’s husband’s birthday, and the birthday of Porky, Her Majesty’s dog at Kew. Jack joins in all the traditional celebrations, suitably disguised in a blue felt blazer adorned with the crest of a regimental lawn bowling team. He heartily enjoys a jolly game of “Cromwell’s men”—a sport played by two teams: one of up to a thousand drunken Anglo-Saxon gentlemen and the other of a small Catholic boy. The object is to find the boy wherever he may be hiding, thrash him soundly, and confiscate his rosary. Our Jack joins the traditional hunt, potting flash-frozen grouse hurled from behind a Douglas fir tree by Woodward’s stock boy. After the games are done, he inspires everyone to partake of High Tea, complete with a panoply of sticky sweets that would rot the teeth off a chain saw.
HISTORY: He was sent over here as a “remittance fairy” from northern (extreme northern) England, when his patriotic outbursts became too much of a burden for his Pictish relatives, who financed his exile. He settled first on the eastern shores of North America (hence the names New England and New Brunswick), but the four days annual sunshine in those regions made the area seem positively Asiatic to Union Jack; thus, he removed himself to the perpetual drizzle of the Pacific Coast. There he lives to this day, happy as a toad in a hole. The points at which Jack pitches his pioneer’s camps across the continent are today marked by Shakespeare festivals, PBS affiliates, dog shows, and Ye Olde English Pubbees.
SPOTTER’S TIPS: Since the English are a shortish race and Union Jack is a largish elf, he often passes himself off as a mortal, and as such may often be seen sleeping peacefully in an overstuffed chair in a Vancouver men’s club, his feet resting in the roaring fire, an activity which might cause a human Britisher some slight discomfort.