I don’t even like tanks that much. I have honestly no idea what I’m doing here. There are tanks everywhere. Tanks in the lobby, tanks on the lawn, tanks in the gift shop. I walk around hoping to find a Russian tank which inside houses different, smaller tanks, so that I can act bewildered and amused even though I previously suspected its existence. But it doesn’t exist. I look up. There are no tanks on the ceiling, which is a relief. But there is a small helicopter, which is disconcerting. Beneath it a placard reads, “What is a helicopter doing in a tank museum!?” and then goes on to explain the entire history of this particular helicopter EXCEPT the reason it is in a tank museum. I feel a strange kinship with the little chopper. It too has no idea what it’s doing here.
The tank museum is the setting for Tankfest, the annual festival of large, manoeuvrable killing machines held in the south of England. It is very well attended. Tanks are put on display and even rolled out onto a specially built course to rollick around and pretend to shoot things. The festival takes place near the sleepy settlement of Wool, which is a bit like holding an NRA meeting in a town called Carebear, or a nuke parade in a village called Softmint. Nevertheless, people come from all over Europe to see tanks from throughout military history and to buy souvenirs like Airfix models, or soap.