Anyway. I remember a particular pair of knee socks that came from my cousins in England. They had Union Jacks all over them. My mother, aware that this might not be the most politically correct statement to be making, made me wear them inside-out.
I'm really not sure how much of an effect that had. These weren't little Union Jacks randomly arrayed over white socks, that might be taken for purple dots from a distance. No, these socks were overwhelmingly red-white-and-blue, with a repeating unbroken pattern of inch by inch-and-a-half flags, one after another with no spaces in between. Add some sequins and Ginger Spice would have loved them. Even inside-out, any casual viewer over the age of seven would probably have known what it was.
I was five. So that was fine.
You'd think, in hindsight though, that perhaps we could have done without that one pair of socks. I mean, from my point of view, the murders and kneecappings and car bombs I heard about every morning on the radio might as well have been taking place in another country, as they never involved places I'd been to or people I knew; but Dublin had been bombed by the IRA the year after I was born, and murders and bombings continued in the UK and the North of Ireland until as late as 1996 (and beyond, from various factions). The late seventies were the height of The Troubles, as they were known. While nobody I knew in Dublin was a rabid Republican, almost everyone I knew was Catholic. In general, it would not have been the done thing to fly the British flag (metaphorically; literally would be totally inconceivable), even if my father happened to have been born there. (Which he was.)
(I'm trying to think how to explain this to Americans. It might be a bit like wearing the Confederate flag to school in New York. You know the way over here people fly the flag of the country of their forebears with pride, and paint themselves those colours and enthusiastically support the teams in the world cup? Well, you don't do that in Ireland if you're English. You certainly didn't do it then, and I'm really not sure how loudly you would want to do it even now.)
But, in my family in 1979 at least, a perfectly good pair of socks was not to be turned down on the grounds of political correctness - not when you could just pull them the other way out and pretend nobody could tell. I suppose I should be glad it wasn't a Union Jack woolly jumper.