Whereas my normal stomping ground is Widcombe, another of Bath’s urban villages springs into life over the Bank Holiday weekend in the form of the Larkhall Festival. With its central car park turned into a village green, secret garden tours, events in the Oriel Hall and the incomparable Alice Park, this will definitely be the place to be for you big city dwellers.

In the spirit of cooperation, Natural Theatre will be dispatching none other than Widcombe’s doyenne of culture, Lady Margaret, to show those folks north of the river just what’s what.

Her ladyship will be conducting one of her famous, nay notorious, dog shows in which the good lady places herself in considerable jeopardy as she stands amidst an array of mutts of every shape , size and temperament in order to judge them for such attributes as waggiest tail, saddest eyes and, most importantly, resemblance to owner. At one incarnation of the show an owner matched its greyhound to such an eerie extent it was hard to tell them apart. On another occasion, Lady M was forced to comment that a fluffy beige poodle and its fluffy beige owner obviously shared hairdressers!

Things have sometimes turned into bloody canine feuds. I believe there are still neighbours not talking since a Widcombe Rising ear-biting incident.  Should Lady Margaret once again get nipped in the gusset (yes it did happen) a veterinarian is always in attendance equipped with anti-rabies medication…and a sewing kit for those tights so often snagged by an over-enthusiastic paw.

As an alternative at last year’s Widcombe Rising, Lady Margaret presented a Mr Widcombe contest. Gentlemen, some impressively sculpted in the Ancient Greek manner, competed for a range of expensive prizes. Margaret doesn’t think Larkhall could produce a sufficiently high standard of testosterone-charged manhood, so dogs it is. And just certificates as prizes, albeit laminated by the grand dame’s own fair hand.

So, if your pooch has that extra special something, be it obedience skills, appealing expression or uncanny resemblance to your good self, just turn up. The programme says the only rule is that the dog must be alive.  Which is a good thing, as one of the classes is ‘Dog that best protects its owner under Kung Fu attack from Lady Margaret’.

Lady Margaret’s Dog Show is at 3.30pm on 5th May outside the Oriel Hall.

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