I'm without oven chips because I've developed an allergy to the Union flag. Daft, I know, but the merest glimpse of it and I go hot and get horrible itchy sensations all over.
Why so? Well, I've never felt any great affinity with it. When I was at school in the 1960s, the flag seemed nothing to shout about and although I remember 1966, that was simply football. I hated the game and, if anything, the sudden brief Union Flag mania turned my antipathy towards the flag into something resembling dislike.
My nationality was something not very well defined at all, until the start of devolution for some. And then I discovered Englishness. In an amazingly short amount of time, I've grown to love it. Oh true, certain aspects annoy me - like the forelock tugging class thing, but in the main Englishness has so much more form, depth, warmth and kindness about it than Britishness.
My dislike of the Union Flag, begun in '66, has now turned to something approaching hatred. Just as I was discovering that my nationality was something I rather liked, that I was English rather than British - with all its Empire building baggage, I suddenly discovered that the Union Flag was seemingly everywhere in my vicinity - fluttering from Cambridge Guildhall and Magistrates courts, on all English products in Tesco (not on Scots, of course), making inroads at the Co-op, everywhere.
I suspect Gordy's claptrap has something to do with this. In fact, in the case of our local public buildings, I know it has!
So, when I walked into Sainsbury's yesterday, I somehow wasn't surprised to see a display of Scots flags (Burns' birthday approaches - how nice!) but when I reached the freezer section and grasped a bag of my usual brand of delicious McCain crinkle cut oven chips, I was suddenly stopped in my tracks. A Union Flag winked at me from the packaging. This was new. The packinging had never featured a Union Flag before.
Suddenly I felt as though I didn't exist. My nationality certainly didn't, and neither did my country. I was standing in a store in one of a number of EU regions in the UK, listening to a tannoy waxing lyrical about Burns, with a display of Saltires behind me and a display of Union Flags in front of me.
I didn't want any Union brainwashing nonsense in my house. Not even tucked away in the freezer. I was suddenly angry - a second rate UK citizen, in a tinpot region nobody voted for, grasping a bag of oven chips.
I put the chips down and quietly walked out.
And had pasta for dinner.