I'm not the world's most patriotic Englishman, and I'm also not keen on allowing icons to fill up my Mac's menu bar unless strictly necessary.
That's why I don't let the Input Menu flag hog space up there; one of the first things I do on a fresh Mac system is remove it (by unchecking the "Show input menu in menu bar" box in the Input Menu tab of the International preferences pane).
That said, there are occasions when I wish I had quick access to the Character Palette - which can normally only be reached via the Input Menu. Grrr.
Which is why I dug around online to find a script that would call up the Character Palette for me, and saved it as an application, and Bob's your uncle. Now I can get to the Character Palette, via Spotlight, by typing "Command+Space CHAR return". Excellent.
You can get the script from this page on Mac OS X Hints. Click the "Get this script" thingy and it will open in Script Editor. Click Compile, then Run, just to check it does what you want - then Save As... an app, or a script if you prefer.