Poetry – The Enchantment

I wrote this poem a while ago after moving to Sutton, which has a fairly generic high street, but has some green walls where grass grow and a few eccentrics amongst the shoppers. I wondered if we could conjure a change in a day of a high street, what would it look like?


The Enchantment of Sutton High Street


Log with metal legs

Unnatural outcrop

On it sits a wizard dressed in purple robes

His staff earned from self-discovery

Watching the madness gathering around him

Plastic bags with plastic tat for a pound and a pound and a pound

Wizard pounds his staff on the concrete floor

Tap Tap tap

Three times no more


His spells whoosh out sparkling sweeping soaring

Down the hill sloped high street

Chasing the golf cart that ferries the breathless


The spell brings nature to the tarmacked land

At first no-one noticed the log

Is sprouting shoots


Green plants already grow like a lawn of sea on the front

Of Wilco

On the corner by New York New York

But soon as it is seen grass is green

Half way down the high street wall

No-one notices that as they walk, ivy climbs across their shoes

And the high street marches on

Except a fringe of reeds has to be brushed past to get

Into Poundland

At the bottom Birnam Wood grows and marches up the hill, covering gaps between the ring fenced trees that already stand penned in

No more now roots tangled with their new friends and the mess is a new


Chuggers are checked aside by a quick sprouting mahogany

The fertility arises

Insects buzz past the temperature rises

The golf cart can’t get over the roots and still no-one

Sees the forest

No one

Sees the green for the trees

The wizard moves to a new vantage point

By the traffic lights

facing downhill and sees the whole scene

Green green grass of the High Street

Tall tall tall grass

A jungle heat, Pampas

But still no-one sees the forest for the trees

Oblivious the shops wonder where the shoppers have gone

Sweep past willow like strands to see they are stuck

Lost in a labyrinth of pastoral plants


The cash tills notice

Nothing going in, nothing going out.

Empty shop windows blast out disintegrating the glass back into sand

It eddys and dusts the ground

Pavement slabs crack open from below

Strong bamboo shoots up, finally diggers are sent in

Someone from the O2 shop, starts a fire to slash and burn with glee

But a wolf dives out from the undergrowth

Scuppering the bonfire with screeches of fear

The assistant dives under their ivy covered desk

Wolf sniffs dog and snapping at a chihauhau

Howling, the domestic dogs break free of their leashes and join the pack


Dogs break into tapas restaurant, Chorizo gone, Hamstrung

Between the cracks in the slabs bamboo shoots up

This machine of echoing eco is supernatural species from separate


Mix together in a symphony of harmonious

Natural bass line

Boom and a swish as the panda lumbers in front of the wizard and

Sits next to him lazily chomping on a bamboo stalk

Shakespeare would have been less optimistic

The horses they did eat each other but here the supernatural natural superlative better and bests

superlative better and bests the atmosphere.

Families once shouting, now picnic under fruit trees

And in the middle a tree, holds aching groaning branches of large full shining

Golden apples

Idun, the guardian of the immortal fruit keeping them sweet and young

Walks forward from her garden, long yellow plaits graze the floor

Her white tunic tied by a leather belt, she holds a bowl of fruit and smiles at the wizard

A golden apple drops and falls on the head of a Waterstone’s assistant

Causing him to reinvent gravity as it flies back up and grows again, a tiny seed apple budding forth


The wizard nods to Idun,  raises his staff and bangs again

Tap tap tap

Three times no more

It makes the panda jump


Cars stop, they run out of steam which rises from their bonnets

The drivers give up and join the families relaxing in the garden


The wizard walks past them, into the melee

Slipping through the gaps in the music of the brushing leaves and whispering branches

He is swallowed up by the branches that camouflage and form behind him

And as he goes

The grasses retreat

The ivy slips up from the ruins of TK Maxx

Trees fade into nothingness

The overgrown go cart sparks to life

Shoppers get up from the now tarmacked floor

Kick a cig butt out the way and carry on with the day


Drivers return to their cars as if nothing had happened


And, forgotten, they go about their day confused

because they remember a time

When they were happy

The simple pleasures of the unnatural natural forest

The garden of Idun

And still no-one sees the forest for the trees.


A generation storm in a Tea House

I’ve followed the controversy over a job ad in Arts Jobs from the Tea House Theatre in Vauxhall via Paula Varjack on facebook.  Paula makes very salient points about being paid in the arts and this administration job not only carried a very small salary but was also highly offensive in its attack on so called ‘Millenials’.

I never thought I’d see my arty types generation (Not X to be honest, it’s more like a cross between Y and Xennial, we got left of the generation list) turn into some ancient fossilised monarchy.

I went to University in Manchester in the 90s and hung around bohemian Birmingham then too – that generation were the ones that fuelled the Poll Tax riot, Riot Grrlls, followed Billy Bragg, made guerilla theatre and all kinds of brilliant political agit prop nonsense (I can remember one fellow student making a drama piece where they smeared themselves with meat. Because woman seen as meat. And I think she was a vegetarian).

All of that gorgeous political attitude – they were the ones that went up trees to save them,  the ones that were politically engaged and bothered.  In fact I despaired at the complacency that came after.

And I never thought due to age, I would get grouped in with the likes of this unthinking arrogance.

Because this is highlighting a weird generation gap kind of rhetoric. For someone to use the term ‘Millenial’ as an insult to those in their 20s, is just showing up the rest of us 40 somethings who are still out there doing the work and doing our best, thank you very much.  In my case having a couple of decades of working part time for children, financial etc. etc. purposes, means I’m in sympathy for the ‘up and coming’ because I still consider myself one of them and probably will past the ever increasing pension age.

When I see anyone managing social media like a boss, you-tubing an entire audience, self-publishing, spoken wording, being opinionated and a force of nature, I see empowered passionate people. Progressive, helpful, community minded people.  The kind of people we need in the arts to keep it going in times when it’s seen as less and less part of the agenda. When Brexit bites, we will need inspiring digital natives to show what can be possible, and, yes, to demand proper pay.

I remember what passionate looks like, and I’ve missed it. So good

But don’t decide everyone over 35 (ahem 40) is past it and out of date – some of them are only starting, and instead of the younger generation looking to elders for mentorship, it might just be the other way round.




Divine feminine

Divine feminine
Like the warmth of tea and cake
Like the stillness of reservoir lake
Like the laughing of a bubbling wine
Like the sparkling of a crystal shrine
Like the garden that overgrows
Like the allotment that overflows

Like the branching of an ancient vine
So you share your feminine divine

Poetry blog

Hi I’ve decided to share as much as my poetry as I can. If you find it interesting, great add a comment, share and credit. If not, don’t worry these poems are like buses there’ll be another three along in a minute.

This one is for the writers….



Pull up your boots, drill down to the underneath

You didn’t survive the blackness

To be suckled into death of life

Didn’t bleat like an imposter wolf in cosy sheepskin

You rocked that maa dom, you made it this far to let rip on the page

Like a Duomo reaching to the sky now

drill down to the underneath

No stopping to age in the mirror

Come on…


You didn’t fight shadows to give up in complacency

Get up out of bed and pick up the pen

Whole new worlds…

Who told you to be complacent?

Get off your knees and start praying to yourself

Put pen and paper and make marks that count

That hovering dagger filled brim cup rose with no thorns

Ignore those mud boots wading through reeds

bogged down, growl at the quicksand


You did not punch your way out of sunken

dreams, past orcs and monstrous rings…

To wave the white flag at the road to nowhere

You were BORN full of moment’s purpose 

Shatter your own illusion

Push these words past Sisyphus and believe it

Drill down into the underneath

Discover it there.


Stand By Your Nan

They’ve been blamed for Brexit and when they’re not thought of as bigots, they are ignored or treated with derision. Women of a certain age enter a post-menopausal media blackout. Nans fade away but I’m determined to give a voice to the unsung stories.

My grandmother was an inspiration to me, so much so I’ve written a show about her. Eve was a fascinating woman who hid behind the façade of working class Brummy housewife with a ditsy naivety. She was in fact an eternal student who gained a BTEC foundation degree in her 80s and had a lifelong interest in the esoteric. She learned, like women did, to hide those interests and pursue what she could when she could. They had no money when her children were young, lived through two World Wars and still near the end of her life, she lived each day as if it was a gift and refused to see old age as a curse. I loved her spirit but she was also hilarious in her experimentation. I’ll never forget the day she turned up dressed head to toe in turquoise because ‘David Icke’. Or when her experiments in cooking turned from your everyday quiche with cheese and ham, to sardines and baked beans.

As a woman she was multi-faceted, interested in life, open minded and taught me a lot about being fascinated by diversity instead of threatened by it. But elements of her life frustrated me; constant dieting to make herself more acceptable. Having to sacrifice her needs to look after my Grandad, to the point at which she was pushing him around a supermarket aged 88 with a trolley whilst he was in a wheelchair. Being mugged at the age of 90, but still saying ‘oh well it’s only a handbag’. She was a working class housewife and her dreams and aspirations disappeared along the wayside, but it didn’t stop her and what I remember most about my Nan, she never stopped learning or laughing.

Our media culture is so obsessed with youth and sexual attraction in the young that we aren’t paying enough attention to our history, to the community around us. Nan always said ‘I might look 80 on the outside but I’m still 16 in my head’. We don’t have to stop being young at heart. Our history is told in grandmothers, it only takes one to reach a century, maybe a couple of hundred cover the whole of Christianity. And yet we choose to ignore them, belittle them, tell the lie that they must keep passive and quiet, do as they are told and fade away.

Eve, my grandmother, in her own quiet way, never did as she was told. And in my way by telling her story and asking others to share theirs, I hope we can change that perception and start spreading the real old wives tales.

Stand by your Nan is debuting at Women in Comedy Festival,11pm, Friday 28thOctober at The Castle, Oldham Street. With time and space to share your own granny tales too, tweet @labellaraquella #standbyyournan with your story.


EU must be joking. 

So the fall out is here. Anarchy in the government,  no opposition to speak of as Labour implodes and no one is speaking about the lies anymore. And then there’s the question of the deficit…

Yes, because we left the EU which was no doubt fuelled by the cuts and austerity being blamed on pressures from free movement and paying in money to the EU – all of which is going to cost the country more now. Because of the misinformed decision to Leave, the Tories are now saying that the deficit reduction deadline won’t be met and that welfare cuts are still more preferable to tax cuts. 


What is going on when people are swallowing lies hook, line and sinker. A few years ago the same people saying ‘well it was all Labour’s fault’ are still believing this story from yhe Tories with an agenda to create an even larger poverty gap, to turn us into a US style economy with no welfare and services coming from volunteers. 

Ignorance comes in many forms, but mainly through lack of questioning and education.  People don’t question the headlines. There are whole swathes of generations that view Murdoch as the purveyor of truth. 

When will he get the sack? Because behind all this is a dumbed down nation, people sold a high concept movie starring Britannia being ‘Great’ again. The Boudiccas are gathering, King Harold is getting an arrow in his eye. 

Dial down the high concept, this is not a blockbuster movie or medieval fantasy TV series, this is our lives. What’s the story of your life? Can we reconnect as humans now? Gather around camp fires and find connection and consensus. 

It’s the centenary of the Somme. A bloody symbol of the high concept lie dragging teenagers to their deaths for ‘glory’. We can change this story. Can’t we? 

Look into Marlene’s eyes as she watches from the wall watching the guys rise and fall. I am this unimpressed. What can we do? 


poetry and writings from Rachel Sambrooks