George V loved stamp collecting.
A courtier asked the Prince [later King George V] if he had seen that "some damned fool had paid as much as £1,400 for one stamp". "Yes," came the reply. "I was that damned fool!"
The attractions of stamp collecting may elude you and me but there's something touching about the enthusiasm of a grown man for this harmless pursuit.
Harmless, at least, as long as it's not being funded by public money. That can rankle. You don't need to be a republican to find the thought distasteful that people's hard-earned money extracted from them in taxes should pay for one privileged man's hobby. Certainly, nothing like that would be acceptable today.
Except that, apparently, it is.
In the first 18 months of the coalition government, £140,023,212 was paid to Computer Sciences Corporation and £67,416,851 to VF Worldwide Holdings to collect the fingerprints of non-EEA visa applicants abroad.
Can anybody explain why? Is this a justifiable use of public money? How can it be? Note to the Home Office: justify it; either that, or please stop.