Anti-establishment subversives and some anti-collectivists have long had it in for uniformed toys. The following snatch of conversation overheard in London between two reminiscing ancients suggests that they are, perhaps, on to something.

Z. "I used to collect lead soldiers. I had over a thousand, and I used to enjoy putting them all out in my own trooping of the colour.

Y. "For my part, I played with trains, and used to enact the procession of the King's corpse to London..."

Miniaturisation of the coercive powers of state certainly permits identification and involvement with and a sense of control over the ceremonies and powers of a people. Whether that is healthy or not is a matter of opinion. However one can be certain that where it is common and accepted then that state enjoys considerable support; where it wanes, the state is unpopular.

Quite incidentally, it occurs to me that it might be a useful clarification of matters to require state employees of all grades and characters to wear a uniform, much like roadsweepers and dustbin men. At least this would enable us to distinguish at a glance Permanent Secretaries from the citizens they serve. (There is no risk, I think, of even the most enthusiastic supporter of large government collecting entire lead Departments of such people, much less marshalling them in carpet versions of any of the great ceremonies that punctuate such lives, for example the short 'long march' to the 16.45 at Waterloo.)