I’d been in Vienna for two months when I realised that I didn’t know what the Austrian flag looked like.
It seems the Austrians, like the Brits, are not flag-wavers. There seems to be something about a history of empire and violence that makes a people more circumspect about parading their national symbols (massive exception: the USA).
I eventually spotted a discrete flag on the Austrian Parliament building, and then another fluttering from the roof of the Volkstheatre, and I can now confirm that this is, indeed, the Austrian flag:
In Britain and, I assume, Austria, anyone waving the national flag anywhere other than a state building or at a sporting event, is regarded with suspicion and, let’s be honest, as a probable racist.
In general, it seems that it is only in perennial underdog nations where a flag can be waved in a good-natured, non-threatening way. When I moved to Barcelona I found the omnipresence of the red and yellow Catalan stripes disturbing, until I began to understand this essential difference.
Still, I am fundamentally not a flag-person, and in that way, Austria suits me well. Ah! Post-colonial guilt! How I missed you!