When I was a small child I loved the Royal Tournament. I still remember one year when jousting knights took part in the tournament as being, for me, the high point of the show, that, and the sight of cavalry and horse drawn guns manoeuvring dangerously around the field and the legendary field gun race. All done of course to some of Britain and the world's best military music (Suppe's Light Cavalry Overture was particularly apt).
When the Royal Tournament was brought to an end in 1999 it was for my adolescent mind proof, if any more were needed, that the new Labour government were a bunch of cultural vandals who valued some vague and empty concept known as "Cool Britannia" (now deceased) over centuries of British history and tradition in which real rather than fictional achievements were celebrated.
It is appropriate therefore that in the year that Labour were ejected from office the successor to the Royal Tournament should have its debut.
The first British Military Tournament, held on 4-5 December, was organised by ABF - The Soldiers Charity and, like the Royal Tournament before it, features superb displays from different branches of our armed services.
Before the show began I was wondering how the successor to the Royal Tournament would perform, would it be different from the old tournament or was this just a re-branding exercise by the new management.
I have to say I was rather disappointed when the show opened with a marching military band, resplendent in red coats and bear skins, playing the theme to Star Wars. I feared that we could be in for a night of popular culture dressed in military uniform.
Thankfully it proved not to be the case and things rapidly went up from there and all the old favourites, the cavalry, the horse drawn guns, the field gun race and much more were deployed to dazzle us with their abilities, and very well they did to.
The music also was excellent, being a good mix of more well known tunes (see above) and first class classical and military music, such as the Light Cavalry Overture, Heart of Oak and Beethoven's Funeral March Number 1 (which is apparently not by Beethoven but often gets played at Remembrance Day services).
The only downside was the constant appearance of a "comic" character who was given the very original name of Tommy Atkins. Hopefully Tommy, drunkenly interrupting the otherwise excellent performances, will get a court martial before next year's show.
Putting that to one side there was a very interesting display of what was described as a pretty standard mission in the conflict in Afghanistan, complete with (scaled down) Chinook helicopter.
The display, in which one of the soldiers is taken casualty, was effective in bringing home to the crowd a small glimpse of what is happening in Afghanistan. This combined with the appeals from ABF - The Soldiers Charity, helped show the courage and sacrifice made by soldiers and their families, in a war which barely affects a large chunk of the population.
In this sense the British Military Tournament is different from its predecessor. It fulfils not just a cultural role, but perhaps more importantly, it can raise awareness and funds for those service families that have been impacted or bereaved by the ongoing war.
Either way it is a most welcome addition to the cultural calendar, and judging from the packed and satisfied audience, one with long life in it.