The village fete, like any other weather dependent event, is a triumph of hope over experience. We all know it’s likely to be waterlogged and if the sun does shine the cake stall will collapse or the band won’t turn up or the PA system will crash.

Everyone knows you should never go on stage with animals, so why do many fetes have dog shows? This proved a mistake at the Forest Hill Feast last Saturday.

Obviously a ‘feast’ is not a ‘fete’, but they both say something about the quiet horrors and desperation, usually unremarked, that go on in villages. But I was there. I saw the wounds. I am in a position to remark.

The Feast started at noon. Some organisers were expecting a downpour. One villager made his living by renting out marquees. He gave two enormous tents at half price to protect us from the rain. The Feast opened in a blaze of sunshine. The grass in the Forest Hill recreational field was parched from the burning rays of the sun. They got that one wrong.

The Feast cost each person £3 for some meat or quiche with excellent and plentiful salads. The organisers paid even less for the whole smorgasbord. One of the organisers is a magistrate. She confided in me: “I bought some spuds for £2.75 and several peelers arrived to turn them into potato salad. Then other salads just kept rolling in. They got that one right, big time. The Feast made a profit of over £1,800.

The cake stall was also a success. One of their specialities was 1970s deserts. I chose the Black Forest gateau, which I hadn’t eaten in forty years. It was a culinary walk down memory lane.

My job was to help judge the ‘paint the pebble’ competition with an international ceramic artist. This turned out to be a bit tricky.

Villagers were to choose a curious or sensuous piece of rock and paint it. The magistrate was in charge of this event. Entries were slow to arrive so she encouraged her friends to start the rocks rolling and submit a piece or two. In the teenage competition this strategy resulted in one family sweeping the board and winning all the prizes. In the adult section a lecturer in creative writing won first prize for a rock painted to look like an Egyptian Pharaoh, and she was so embarrassed at winning the magistrate said the lecturer would probably never speak to her again.

The animal part of the fete was more than tricky. Forest Hill Feast had a dog show and organisers wanted to stop any animosity between the contestants. So the dogs had to be on leads. This strategy almost worked. All the dogs were on leads. This meant they might not be able to get at each other, but that didn’t stop them harming humans. The master of ceremonies bent over to pet one of the dogs, a Serbian rescue dog who, on four legs, stood up to table top height, about three feet high, but on his back two legs he could look you and me in the eye.

This dog might have had a flashback to his rescuing experiences in Serbia or maybe he thought the MC was going to attack his owner, but the dog pulled back his lips, revealed a perfect set of sharp teeth and bit the MC on his left arm. The dog left four clear punctures.

The MC told me: “If the dog had been on his hind legs he could have taken out my cheek.”

The magistrate said: “What might have happened if a child had tried to pet him?” The dog’s owner was a key player in the Forest Hill Feast because she was a doctor available to offer people first aid. But after this attack both the dog and his owner went home with their tails between their legs.

The MC, in need of medical treatment, had to get his own ointment for the wounds, and carried on holding the microphone with his left, damaged hand and continued to compere the event as though nothing had happened.

The magistrate told me: “This is the 99th Forest Hill Feast. We haven’t had one for several years, but next year will be the big 100th. This one is just a toe in the water.”

More like two fangs in the arm. I look forward to the next one.