I’m not one of life’s flag wavers. I usually associate the Union Jack with fascists, racists and hooligans than with anything positive.

I think the Royal Family should be privatised and have no patience with those who live under illusion that Britons will never be slaves.

But sit me down in front of an England football match and those dormant patriotic instincts rise to the surface.

I was 8 years old when England won the world cup in 1966 since when they have not even reached the final of a major tournament. I vividly remember watching them lose 2-3 to West Germany the world cup quarter finals in 1970 after being 2-0 up.

But irrational hope springs eternal and I will watch England vs Italy in the Euro 2012 quarter-final today with my heart in my mouth and head in my hands. Even if they do summon up a victory, there’s the prospect of Germany in the semi finals and a repeat of that traumatic childhood experience.

To quote from John Cleese in the movie Clockwise “I can take the drama – it’s the hope I can’t stand”.