The Friday Arts Diary

Our cultural picks for the week ahead.


The Paradise by Way of Kensal Green Pub, 19 Kilburn Lane, W10 4AE: Zadie Smith Reading (29 March)

Zadie Smith presents extracts from her collection of essays Changing My Mind, and discusses the importance of local libraries at a time when even the most popular are under threat of closure.


Cecil Sharp House, NW1 7AY: Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (24 March)

Covers of classics from all genres, from punk to swing to pop played on ukuleles.


London Coliseum: Birmingham Royal Ballet perform Cinderella (29 March - 2 April)

After selling out in Birmingham and appearing on the BBC at Christmas, the world premiere tour of this fairytale classic comes to London.


Cave of Forgotten Dreams (released 25 March)

Werner Herzog sets out to capture prehistoric cave paintings in 3-D, along the way exploring the rarely-seen, limestone encrusted caves of Chauvet, France. Few living people have been permitted access to the caves, and the entrance of a camera crew is very much a novelty. Herzog's effort includes footage of interviews conducted with the scientists and researchers who are charged with keeping these remarkable landmarks safe.


National Theatre: Rocket to the Moon (25 March - 5 April)

Stunning, stockingless, ruthless in her youth, Cleo Singer arrives in Ben Stark's dental practice and turns his married, humdrum world upside down. Written in 1938 by Clifford Odets, the American master of dazzling, acerbic New York repartee, and starring Keeley Hawes and Joseph Millson.

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Poem: "When the Americans came"

“Do you have vampires around here?”

When the Americans came,

they didn’t take to our gardens:

the apple orchard smelling of wild garlic,

foxgloves growing among the runner beans.


“Do you have vampires around here?”

a visitor from Carolina asked me.

It was a shambles, Wilfred knew that,

nodding wisely as though apologising


for the ill manners of King George,

the clematis purple in the thatched roofing.

But come the softe sonne,

there are oxlips in Fry’s woods,


forget-me-nots in the shallow stream,

lettuce and spring onions for a salad.

It’s certain that fine women eat

A crazy salad with their meat*


I tried to tell them. But they weren’t women,

and didn’t care to listen to a boy.

They preferred the red rosehips

we used for making wine.


Danced outside the village church

round the maypole Jack Parnham made.

Now they’re gone,

the wild garlic has returned.


* W B Yeats, “A Prayer for My Daughter”


William Bedford is a novelist, children’s author and poet. His eighth collection of verse, The Bread Horse, is published by Red Squirrel Press.

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood