I have never been one for national anthems. I was born in a broken, stolen part of a country that had an imposed anthem that implored a deity to save someone of royal blood.I’ve never been one for royal blood either, but I may have sung God Save the Queen as a kid in Northern Ireland. I went to a "mixed" school. There was no religion at Model Primary in Newtownards, County Down. I had little notion I was born a Catholic and should detest the song of the oppressor and all it stood for.My parents didn’t want me to grow up hating. That was something I learnt to do as I got a lot older. Hate seems to come easier with age. It’s one of the very few things that comes easier with age, actually. Well, there’s love, too, but hate is easier and more likely to get you elected as a politician.Patriotism can so easily tip from love to hate. At the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006, an old man approached me and David Isaacson, the very fine sports writer from the Sunday Times, as we worked i...

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