Address: 7 Richmond Walk, Plymouth PL1 4LL


All content on this site © WonderZOO  2015


  • Facebook B&W

Groups, Organizations We are helping and supporting in Active engagement


Client Culture

Racial Equality Council

Pride in Plymouth

Cawfee Cafe 

Stonehouse Voice Newspaper



Respect Festival 

Festival of Words 

Lead Works CIC Warehouse

Compassionate Plymouth

Barbican Theatre

Adelaide Street Angels   

 Nudge Community Builders Our Street work with Artists Grunge and Sally Brær Taylor

Events coming up and Reviews 

WonderZoo had an Amazing time of late working with one workshop that  saw 14 different Cultures working with Integr8, Racial Equality Council-, Oasis Project and Raay called Plymouth Communities come Together  at Oasis Café with Storytelling Art and Food such lovey time.  WonderZoo also hit Channing Wood Prison for Black History with Racial Equality Council and did Rap and Poetry everybody loved it went so well they want us back. We did first ever Artists for Artists Mental Health in the arts in Plymouth at Union Street's amazing Portuguese cafe, A Taskina with AKA Grunge Davey Ŧhom Boulton Hel Bee working with Client Culture and funding from Plymouth Octopus Project - POP plus small film night with IMPERFECT CINEMA  in Pete's Art Space for new event -show that happen next year at WonderFul new Art space Leadworks CIC - The Warehouse details to follow soon but its called Lost Generation of a Jilted Generation gonna be fun. WE have been so busy of late Breaking Down Barriers in so many ways this is True activism that helps bring about social change in our Society through the Power of Art and the Spoken Word we all need do more to support our Communities.....Sorry no images of Channing Wood Prison not allowed take images.....But behind all this is a cool Crew of Gabi Marcellus-Temple who I love so much best friend ever and others like Helen Moore Pete Golding Matt Thomas Sally Brær Taylor Jackie Wacha Alan Butler Donna Maughanand others that help and support and we all do good things .....Next Stop Nudge Community Builders events coming Soon and been on local radio reading Spoken Word and check this out our next event this 

Wednesday be a special Evening with The Commons book launch with Headliners Ŧhom Boulton: Plymouth's Poet Laureate and Sam Richards Poet and Writer

This be a special one of Event that feature Guest writers from the book

Here is the Amazing Line up Folks

Erin and Caitlyn Acoustic Duo 
Robin Oliver Writer and Poet

Margaret Corvid Writer and Poet

Richard Hillesley Writer and Poet 
Merris longstaff Poet

Headline 1st Half Ŧhom Boulton Plymouth's Poet Laureate


2rd Half 
Hel Bee Punk Poet 
Michelle Dilling Writer and Poet

Danny Strike Poet

Sarah Adams Writer 
Brian Herdman Beat Poet and Writer 
Norman Jope Writer and Poet 
Kat Savage Writer and Poet 
Headliner 2rd Half Sam Richards Poet and Writer


Your also be able buy copies of Client Culture magazine on the night by Artist Helen Moore

WonderZoo News WonderZoo

Come and see the Artists of WonderZoo street performance called
Silent Protest
Where at
Manor St Market Saturday 30th Nov Union Conner. This performance work sees local poet and performance artist Grunge Davey AKA Pete Davey alongside other artists names to follow soon question the question that keeps appearing in Plymouth Live and Plymouth Herald is Stonehouse becoming a no-go area? So we are going stand up and get Positive stories of living in Stonehouse out there and other News Next May WonderZoo Arts working with Adelaide Street Angels will be holding a street Party for Mayflower 400 UK to give folks that live in Adelaide Street a place to shine and love their street and we are so looking forward to making this happen.

On another note Folks we can now tell you November 27th show will see two great headliners the only and only Robert Garnham who be on tour of the UK celebrating 10 years in the business Truly wonderful news and our Dear Friends Go Satta be playing an unplugged and watch out for our mad over the top WonderZoo Crazy Xmas play but before then come along this Wednesday folks to Cawfee a special one of Event that feature The Commons book launch with Headliners Ŧhom Boulton Plymouth's Poet Laureate and Sam Richards and so many others and also pick up Client Culture Magazines there are now three magazines by Artist Helen Moore on the night and get your 4th vol on our Xmas play night tell you folks great art magazines come along folks have cool evening out.... Plus we are supporting Alan Qualtrough and his Amazing The Stonehouse Voice and get your copies from the best independent Culturel cafes in Plymouth Cawfee and The Clipper by Nudge Community Builders and we also love A Taskinha Our Friends So who said Stonehouse is becoming  all three places support WonderZoo events look at this image of our book due next year more details to follow soon folks....

[part of the Plymouth RESPECT festival]

Review by Pete Golding
I always think that RESPECT means an appreciation of the rights and dignity of others. Whoever they are. Wherever they are. However they are. We aim to respect everyone at WonderZoo and try to ensure everybody gets seen and heard. So first off Massive thank you and Respect to Plymouth Respect Festival Julie Paget for having WonderZoo there this year and next year too and on top We have to really give Thanks to Peter Davey for his endless work in making this Platform work and Endless Effects to support the Arts in Plymouth So Respect Pete . Respect to Crew of WonderZoo Gabi Marcellus-Temple Jackie Wacha Helen Moore Sally Brær Taylor Jonathan Spurling Donna Maughan Charlotte Maughan amongst others for this opportunity to show our appreciation of the 17 performers who graced us with their presence and their art. Many thanks to you all for making it all happen.

Robin Oliver began by reciting three poems from his Outcry collection. They concerned the journey of transitioning so that one can be true to oneself so that one can be comfortable in one's own skin. Maximum respect to ROBIN for sharing this with us. A brave soul. Indeed.

Caitlyn Barrow played the ukulele accompanied vocally by ERIN. And what sweet sounds they made together as they sang three songs, only one of which I recognised, The Zuton's Valerie. Gorgeous voices. Delicious harmonies. A delight from start to finish.

Michelle Dilling joined us from Exeter to read out three pieces which oozed tolerance and respect for others whether towards the older generation or the masculine vulnerabilities or grandparents. Sentiments we all endorse and aspire to emulate. Terrific writer. Respect.

Lorna McTavish Coulson got the whole audience drumming for the best part of half an hour. Inspired by Canadian Natives, LORNA involved everyone with a selection of drums and rattles in a drumming frenzy accompanied by chanting and hollering which became strangely mesmerizing and quite hypnotic [which is kinda the point isn't it] Great stuff.

Tam Martin Fowles delivered an inspirational talk about a group called Compassionate Plymouth which seeks to put compassion at the centre of communities, thereby creating a powerful positive force for change in our divided city. There are over 400 compassionate communities across the world and, believe it or not, Plymouth is the leader in the UK. Together & individually they seek to create a positive and constructive alternative to the divisiveness & despair purveying our media and fracturing our communities & society at so many levels. What a wonderful vision and WonderZoo been Invited to take part in such a Trip to Japan for their World Peace Conference next year watch this space folks…. To learn more, check out their website for further details to see how maybe you could assist, if you accord with their mission [] TAM MARTIN FOWLES not only delivered this inspired lecture but illustrated her talk with a couple of heartfelt poems. Wonderful interlude. Check out their website! Put your compassion into action.

Dr . Alan Butler talked about the importance of PRIDE in Plymouth, its significance, what it signals and why it is important. Dr. BUTLER also [with PETE DAVEY@ his feet] relayed to us the fear and dread that accompanied coming-out as being gay, the awkwardness, the disbelief, the shame and occasional hilarity of his journey to find acceptance and normality. The significance of the body of Pete Davey was revealed when ALAN related the horror of the Central Park murders [here in Plymouth] on a youngster looking for tolerance and understanding. Devastating in a word. This incident is yet another stain on our city's long bloody history.

Kevin Kelland also spoke about coming-out & the importance of the Lockyer Tavern in the 1970s in assisting his progression into acceptance. These were difficult times, when HIV / AIDS was nicknamed the gay plague. KEVIN read out the very moving 'Diagnosis Day' as well as 'Flashbacks' and feeling 'At One With Them' to remind us of those dark days and how being infected [then] was a death sentence. Somehow some survived and, as if to celebrate this extraordinary achievement, KEVIN has recently married the love of his life STEVE VOYSEY. Congratulations, Kev. Congratulations Steve. May you have a long and happy time together.

Jonathan Spurling[guitar & vocals] & Sarah Adams [percussion & vocals] soothed our savaged souls by singing a few tuneful songs together. Great team. Inclusive and interactive. I was particularly taken with their version of Jimmy Cliff's 'I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Has Gone.' Brilliant. We loved them.

The Spoils Collective are a terrific local ensemble consisting of drums, bass, sax. flute, rhythm guitars, & keyboards. Each song utilised a different vocalist with their own distinctive style. They got the place up on its feet and rocking to their raucous & rebellious pulse. I'd say this is the best band in Plymouth at the moment but don't expect hearts and flowers. This is the spirit of rebellion or, as their last song heralded, Revolution! And, as implied, revolution involves discord. They are the mavens of mayhem.

Brian Herdman makes poetry sound easy. It isn't. His poetry rolls trippingly off the tongue as if the words and rhymes are just occurring to him whether he is talking about his rock and roll life or the joys of LSD or the mystery of his Dad's sudden inexplicable demise. Brian has an immediacy and spontaneity that is in fact highly organised and deceptively simple. Respect to that man.

Jackie Wacha reminded us that, as we obsess about Brexit, there are others in the world fighting for democracy [e.g. Hong Kong] or battle against the barrage of fake news which Jackie encouraged as part of her electric participatory performance. Her 'Scratches on the Wall' was a disturbing rendition of what a political activist held in captivity must feel like. Jackie is a published novelist, writer and poet who is topical, engaging and wholly professional as with her interactive invective about the environmental catastrophe facing us entitled 'The Last Drop Of Water,' where she encouraged the audience to harangue her Trump-style. Interactive. New. Very brave. Telling.

Margaret Corvid is a sonnet-eer par excellence. I'm not sure sonneteer is actually a word but MARGARET can rattle them off as if they were doggerel. They are not. In fact the sonnet is probably one of the most difficult forms in Eng. Lit. Moreover I was particularly impressed that MARGARET was inspired recently by the Greta Thunberg setting sail from Plymouth to visit the United States. One wonders if we should be celebrating this ground-breaking moment more than the Mayflower? Moreover she chose to celebrate finding water on another planet but concluded with a 'Curse Song,' which enumerated some of our modern day anxieties that we can get all out of proportion. MARGARET is tremendous poet, seer and astute commentator and she deserves greater exposure and appreciation. I appreciate you, Margaret. Long live!

CRAB & BEE plumbed the depths of the runes, lore, myths & legends that cling to our city. They took us on an imaginative tour de-force of Plymouth and surrounding areas, from legends like Gog Magog to the dreadful plastic pollution that so contaminates our local rivers and watersheds. Truly alternative. Truly mesmeric like a meandering dream or should that be nightmare. Helen Bee Phil Smith

Merris Longstaff read out four pieces which explored the racist themes levelled against someone who came over to this country in the 1960s. Some of us labour under the misapprehension that overt racism disappeared some time ago but MERRIS reminded of an incident on a 'RyanAir' flight which happened only a few months ago of some eejit kicking off because he was seated next to a black person. Racism is like wac-a-mole isn't it? Though obviously not funny in the slightest. All respect to MERRIS for reminding us, it is no fun at all being BAME in the past or in the present in the hostile environment created by our politicians particularly regarding the Windrush immigrants who have worked so hard to re-build Britain after the Second World War. Has Theresa May no shame? MERRIS we salute for reminding us.

PUS [a.k.a Julian Isaacs ] played & sang five original songs he himself composed. Such is the level of his craftsmanship that they rolled out effortlessly as he sang of a 'Summer in St. Tropez' or 'Plums' or 'Marmalade' or 'Halfway To Venezuela' or my favourite 'I'm A Man Possessed' Great accompanying guitar-work, witty lyrics and a stomping rhythm all add up to a consummate performance by a consummate performer. But not sure about the moniker though, Julian.

Matt Thomas read out three original poems, the first addressed to his 'Purple Shirt' the second to 'Your Involuntary Hands' and the third, an anti-Trump rant, entitled 'Red Hats' He concluded his short stint at the mike by reading out one of MATT's found poems, this time found in a book of comics. MATT is a delight to listen to and his beaming presentation belies the fact that a lot of thought and preparation has gone into it and the underlying seriousness of his message is sensitive and revealing.

Our headline-headline performer is the unique & very talented Hel Bee HEL. BEE. HEL. BEE covered a diverse variety of subjects from bullying to depression to the barbarity of PIP assessments. She began with ' Our Silence is Violence' concerning the urgency to speak out about abuse, the second was 'This Is Not A Suicide Note But A Letter Of Hope,' the third approached the sensitive subject of bullying in schools called Sticks & Stones, the fourth addressed the her feminist agenda where she bemoans the fact that there is any need for feminism at all. That's the pity of it. There is.
Finally, she recounted the dread of receiving the 'Brown Paper Envelopes' which contained the results of her PIP [Personal Independent Plan] assessment, a dreadful degrading discriminatory process which has led to some to commit suicide, it is so barbarically processed. Scandalous.
HEL. BEE is a political radical who fearlessly engages with important issues of the day & that makes her relevant, incisive and dangerous.
And that is why she is a firm favourite at WonderZoo because we continue to attempt to be relevant, incisive and dangerous. A very big thank you to all 17 performers and particularly HEL BEE who encapsulates the ethos of this inclusive platform. Thank you one. Thank you all.





                                    [as part of PLYMOUTH ART WEEKENDER]


                                       CAWFEE on Sunday 29th September 2019


WILLIAM TELFORD began our evening with consummate authority. Journalist, author, published writer & poet, we knew we were in safe hands. CAWFEE incidentally is an ideal location for WonderZoo, central, cosy & hospitable. Of course we have to thank Pete Davey for all his efforts in arranging & publicizing this wonderful WonderZoo event as well as the sterling efforts of Gabi Marcellus Temple the other half of WonderZoo such a powerful duo alongside Sounds and Recording by Mike Whittam and support from Jackie Wacha & Donna Maughan and Helen Moore.



FRANKLIN STREET SONGWRITERS comprised of a gorgeous singer & ukulele player who sang six of their own fabulous compositions [including This Time, Simple, Blind Town, Broken Boy & Foolhardy Mind, amongst others] such a lovely voice & lovely accompaniment, too. Terrific Lovely start to a terrific evening.


JAMES TURNER who sang four of his own cracking compositions ending with Woke up This Morning with the Haiku Blues. We've all been there [!] but JAMES TURNER made it sing.  


MARIELUISE NIEHUS took us on a mazy journey as she recited six poems which ranged from Babel [an environmental catastrophe] to mittelschmerz [or mid-ovulation] from scarecrows to ravens and back again. MARIELUISE is quite a unique talent. Long may she dazzle.


MELISANNNE FITZSIMMONS read out six poems [several of them on the theme of the oncoming Mayflower celebrations but celebrations which Ms. FITZSIMMONS calls into question as indicated by the extensive weaponry carried by the Pilgrim Fathers] in her fifth poem entitled Weapons. Ms. FITZSIMMONS has a unique & distinctive voice and is an accomplished engaging writer.


NICOLA BEVAN-FRENCH was in reflective mood tonight as she meditated on the transience of life in [A] A Hard Dying [B] and the Death of Her Father and concluding with [C] the meditative & autumnal Warm September Sun. All poignant, touching and tender, too.


NICK SPARGO is always a delight to listen to. Tonight he asked us to consider various versions of the Truth, in his own very inimitable way. You've been away too long, NICK. This is a welcome return and in tip-top form. Thanks for the volume of poetry too. I recommend them to you unreservedly.


ALAN QUALTROUGH announced the successful launch of the STONEHOUSE VOICE newspaper. Congratulation to all concerned by especially ALAN Q & once again the hard work expended by PETE DAVEY on this & many other projects that Pete works non-stop on.


Speak of the devil PETE DAVEY introduced the second half and to somebody he has missed a lot the wonderful DAVID WALTON [singer-song-writer & guitarist] serenaded us with four original compositions including They Don't Want My Transferable Skills, Chores, Keep On Smiling and lastly Take Away. What I took away was this was a jongleur of rare and entertaining talent who kept us grinning from start to finish.


JACKIE WACHA read out six poems by THEA BRUTON. Unfortunately THEA was unable to join us tonight but JACKIE read out six poems published by THEA & they rhymed! How rare to find a poet who can rhyme and make an audience laugh. I especially recommend her work but her Torpoint Ferry poem is a masterpiece of mirth and punning. Thank you, Jackie Thank you, THEA.


MATT THOMAS read out some autobiographical pieces recently composed reflecting the idiocy of the era we live in, with an idiot in the White House & our own idiot in No10. I am particularly taken by MATT's 'found poems' from instruction manuals such as an extract from camera manual or random quotes from a sci-fi novel. He completed his all-too-short set with Your Involuntary Hands which was rather unsettling to say the least.


Next HELEN MOORE announced the launch of the penultimate edition of CLIENT CULTURE, a superbly produced booklet featuring exclusive interviews, poems and artwork focusing on the subject of education For a mere £4 it's a must-have. Congratulations to HELEN for compiling, editing, and producing such a superior publication alongside her crew and support from WonderZoo. Moreover she read out four original poems and literally gave away her poetry to any member of the audience who asked for it. In my experience this is unique to HELEN MOORE. Originals, not copies. Unique and audacious. Ms. MOORE is chock full of surprises and artistic fervour. Originals!


WILLIAM TELFORD read out a couple of his own compositions which included a hilarious skit on journalism in which his fellow hacks somehow became transformed, in his imagination, into bonobos monkey. I believe it was entitled How Journalism Works On Planet Of The Apes.


JANE FAB's work is difficult to define. Part science fiction, part characterisation, it takes listeners to whole new realms of endeavour along the cusp of the event horizon. JANE FAB prefers to deliver while horizontal thereby physically resembling the text like a meteorite coming right at you. Exciting. Thrilling, in fact. Only JANE FAB could get us all humming to Jean & Claude with their long faces.


GABI MARCELLUS-TEMPLE & PETE DAVEY AKA Grunge decided to read out poems written by each other, so that PETE read out GABI's and GABI read out PETE's poems. Of course their delivery style is chalk and cheese. GABI delivered PETE's poems in a reverential and abstemious fashion with a beautiful voice But if you ever read or listen to Pete’s works just on its own like Gabi read them TRULY GOOD WORKS really are but PETE likes cut up all rules such independent mind at work and performed more like sonic templates to fight a system he disagrees with, whereas GABI's usually measured poems were given the PETE treatment. If you don't know the PETE treatment is, turn up your volume to eleven, and then turn it up some more it’s a style more of the past that is turned up volumes, so we were treated to twelve rip roaring poems, six each which was a highlight to finish another wondrous evening with WonderZoo both such great writers. Many thanks to those that made it happen, particularly William Telford as MC.


@ A-TASHKINA [Union St] 12/10/19


It was Marcus Aurelius who said we exist for one another. This Saturday WonderZoo gathered at the exotic Portuguese restaurant, A-tashkina, to create a free all-day drop-in event to raise awareness of mental health issues that seem to dog so many of us. However what made this such a unique event was that WonderZoo sought to offer some solutions to some mental health conditions & if you read on, you'll see some listed.   We have to thank to Pete DAVEY, Gabi MARCELLUS-TEMPLE, Jackie WACHA, Helen MOORE, Donna MAUGHAN & Sally BRIAR-TAYLOR and the staff at  A-tashkina for arranging this great day as well as all the performers for contributing and HIPPY for doing the sound expertly.            

                                                         Well done, everyone!


ADAIRDA played & sang seven scintillating songs usually [but not exclusively] with a  graceful guitar accompaniment. Bilingual Adairda sings with power & passion, opening with Good Day moving onto Matarile & Canis Lupus before singing Martha Tilston's Good World. Adairda usually sings her own compositions like Stubborn Enough or El Trabajador but she concluded her magnificent set with Idle No More in the style of the  Ulali or Native American, a capella style. A magnificent performance.


ADAIRDA also spoke about & behalf of Feminist Fusion   a community-arts project that runs primarily as a bi-monthly community event, showcasing the work of female artists in all disciplines (music, theatre, visual, poetry, etc.) while enabling public conversation (via speeches, discussions and games) to explore patriarchal oppression and feminism. After all, we exist for one another.

TOM BOULTON [Plymouth's Poet Laureate] read out ten poems from his latest collection, Prima Materia, as well as some, so recently completed, they remain untitled. TOM claims that writing poetry is therapeutic for his mental health and listening to it, feels  sort of therapeutic, too. It is his gift to make art out of despair and depression but  here was living proof it is possible, as poems like Dragonfly or Black Dragon or Venting demonstrate that mental anguish can be a source of inspiration and a catalyst toward change & growth. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us, TOM    

GRUNGE PETE  began by speaking of some dreadful experiences he underwent as a youngster, before embarking on 10 compositions that he shared with everybody in the room. Some were tender pieces about [say] his Mum's passing but others bordered on PETE's signature raucous rants about  pain, rejection, depression, war or wanton violence. Once again, a tour-de-force by Plymouth's leading performance poet.

TAM appealled to those assembled for help and the need for volunteers to assist with delivering a Compassionate Plymouth [an organisation that seeks to unite disparate communities and individuals in these divisive times of turmoil] Check-out their website  join or maybe just sign their charter to help put compassion at the beating heart of our city and our globe. We exist for each other don't we Plymouth?

TOMMY RAY ISAAC, a young student from the Red School for Creative Arts,  bravely stepped up to the mike to read out a couple of his own compositions including an anti-war protest entitled War Cries. Everyone is welcome at WonderZoo, young or old, and I do hope that we get to see more of Tommy Ray Isaac in the future, as his prodigious talent blossoms and grows, he is welcome at WonderZoo.

       MATT THOMAS read just a couple of his own compositions including this haiku:

It's Thursday, Again. How Many Times, Is This Gonna Happen? Excellent. Spot on.  If you get it, you get it. If you don't get it, you're lucky. MATT never fails to hit the spot.

ROBIN OLIVER read two poems from the OUTCRY collection. The first was entitled Day-By-Day the second Emergence which concluded with these lines “ The way it is, isn't the way it has to be” How very poignant on a day like to today. ROBIN is a sensitive writer and poet and I commend ROBIN's collection OUTCRY to you, unreservedly.

HEL B.  sat & spoke to us pianissimo on the several distressing mental health  conditions that have and are still afflicting her.  She proceeded to provide a backstory to some of the seven poems she recited including compulsive apologizing in Sorry, self-harming [Scar & Sharp Edges] imposter syndrome in Fake, school-bullying in Sticks & Stones and darkest depression in This Is Not A Suicide Note. She wears her heart on her sleeve and such honesty is disarming and inspiring.  

We  were lucky to have DANNY present and the opportunity for him to read out a couple of poems he happened to have handy on the topic of Insomnia and Acting Out. Thank you Danny. You added something special to our day. Insomnia is a distressing condition as you illustrated isn't it.

JONATHAN SPURLING [guitar & vocals] & SARAH ADAMS [percussion] serenaded us with eight very different songs from the satirical OCD Blues to lost-love in Sunset In Your Eyes, from Bob Marley's Three Birds to Fred Neil's Everybody's Talking At Me, I Don't Hear A Word They're Saying.  Lush.  Together JONATHAN & SARAH are an expressive combination who engage, entertain and enthral. Terrific.

PETE “GRUNGE” DAVEY exploded and disrupted proceedings with his part-scripted and part-improvised invective Boogadesh & a Mystery. I confess I'm not sure what the former is and by definition the latter was [of course] mysterious but what was important was it provided a fitting crescendo to a compelling day-long exploration into the effects of mental & emotional distress.

That said WonderZoo arranged for a panel of experts to conclude the event who sought to offer some of the organisations, charities and counselling services available to those in distress in Plymouth & thereabouts. I assume we have PETE “Grunge” DAVEY to thank for this thoughtfulness. Excellent idea.

The panel included HELEN MOORE [chairing] NEIL PICK [Devon Mind] MANSELL NOTT & HANNAH WILCOX [Kintsugi Project]  & LAURA ASHENFORD [Skoodhyans Trust] * NEIL PICK spoke about the Recovery College in Greenbank which offers courses, counselling, support groups & volunteering opportunities without a GP referral! If you're interested you can ring them 01752- 512298 or email

MANSELL NOTT & HANNAH WILCOX  spoke about the Kintsugi Project which is aimed mainly at disability including mental health & aims to provide workshops, music studios, radio facilities and therapy rooms as well as offering the chance to do a spot of garden, should you feel so inclined. They are contact-able by emailing

LAURA ASHENFORD was representing the Intercom Trust, a supportive  LGBT+ organisation which offers counselling, courses information & support groups. Their confidential helpline is 0800-612- 3010 * LAURA also mentioned the launch of the Skoodhyans Trust, a charity that aims to support, counsel and therapy to vulnerable people in Plymouth. Check them out on Facebook .com /skoodyhanstrust.

HELEN MOORE spoke of the therapeutic value of gardening and the opportunities afforded by the  St. Mathias Community Garden project to  socialise, meet and rejoice in greening our urban spaces. HELEN contends gardening is absorbing, therapeutic and constructive ways.

Review by one and Only Pete Golding

It was Wyndham Lewis that wrote something like we will allow WonderZoos but not gloomy Victorian circuses. There was nothing gloomy or Victorian or circus-like about WonderZoo. And there were over seventy people in the Cawfee standing room only if you could find a place that could corroborate this with this Wednesday evening.

Read on.
PETE DAVEY began proceedings by rhapsodising about Stonehouse and in particular Adelaide Street, the good, the bad and the potential. Write-on, Pete.

KATIE OBORN stepped up to the microphone and read out two original pieces, the first of which, Summer Sea, inspired by a walk on the Hoe. You know when you are in the presence of an accomplished poet. Her writing just seems to get better and better the more times we hear her.

On the other hand the less said about TONY-THE-FISH the better apart rather good first two poems shame it ended on not such a high. Quickly moving on, ELLEN R. SIMS read out four original pieces, the first of which [my favourite] was unreliable narrators. Excellent set from ELLEN R. SIMS. Magic. No gloom! The ever-effervescent

HELEN MOORE literally gave away her poetry to any member of the audience who wanted it. I have never seen a gesture like that before. Originals, not copies. Unique and audacious. Ms. MOORE is full of surprises and artistic endeavour. She also promoted volumes one & two of Client Culture as well as her utterly compelling podcasts. I can vouch for that. Try it.

RAY'S VIBRATIONS is an astonishingly consummate performer, writer, entertainer and innovator. He didn't need to read his writing, he memorized them. Accompanied by sound effects. Four very different pieces ranging from a rhapsody on mouths, a talking sexbot and dreaming in the 1970s/80s/90s. If there is one writer that was worth the entrance fee alone, it was the RAY'S VIBRATIONS. If you get a chance to see him, see him. Fan-tab-u-lous. There is only

MICHAEL DAX and he was on tip-top form, as always. He read out four poems including the very funny I Wave At Trains. Apparently no one waves back. Michael can wring humour out of most things even out of dreadful James Bond movies! Mesmeric, in fact.

Heading our First half was DANIEL REILLY & ANGELA they read out their on-going research about the Mayflower or as they called it the United States creation myth. Fascinating. They delved into archives and records which spins a whole narrative to the conventional spiel concerning the founding of the United States. The truth will set you free! They are part of the group Our Voice a coalition of community Groups addressing issues that are emphasised by the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower

PETE DAVEY reconvened the second half with an angry piece entitled Call Me. There are no space spaces when PETE takes the mike. He takes no prisoners. He vents his spleen and rages like a running bull in Pamplona.

MARGARET CORVID is chock full of surprises. She read out three sonnets [do you know how difficult it is to write one?] the first was called I Like Little Flowers, the third To A Spider but the most poignant [her second sonnet] was addressed to Greta Thunberg. So glad that such a hero was venerated by such a heroine of mine.

MERRIS LONGSTAFF read out only one poem, a moving piece on disablement and the prejudices that go with it. Soft-spoken the awfulness seeps out and lacerates our sensibilities. Such unmitigated cruelty meted by those who lack empathy or sympathy or humanity.

MATT THOMAS read out six poems including a few of his signature 'found' poems from antiquated technology such as cameras or freezers. Very different. Rather weird. Seemingly alluding to something indefinable. However MATT started his set by reading out poems extolling Mancunian augur John Cooper Clark while decrying the state of current politics and vilifying Donald Trump. MATT has a winning way about him.

JULIAN ISAACS [a.k.a PUS] sat down to sing to us, guitar in hand, four songs which ranged from [a] getting on in life [b] to being a mercenary [c] to being halfway Venezuela. PUS can play well, sing well write well and is always a welcome jolly jongleur at WonderZoo.

ALAN BUTLER shared with us some autobiographical details about coming-out in Plymouth and the malicious effect the Central Park murders had on his journey to go public on his sexuality. A difficult story to tell but an astounding story to hear. Much appreciated. Thank you for sharing.

MARION MAZ admonished us that we were a 'low aspiration city' after she extolled the virtues of Jeremy Corbyn. I can corroborate that. What a confident and engaging performer MARION is! She had the whole audience, over sixty people, engaged by distributing statements that have been attributed to women to illustrate how far we have to go in this country toward gender equality. O dear! Long-ways to go but tonight, thanks to MARION, we know what we need to leave behind.
We were fortunate indeed to have so many consummate performers, writers and poets in attendance tonight and particularly Mancunian

BRIAN HERDMAN, who entranced us with only three compositions, none more telling than a rumination on his father's suicide [entitled Dad] How sad. Tragic. Heart-breaking. Awful. But such bravery to involve us in his passing. Thank you, Mr. Herdman. A real class act.

SAM RICHARDS was our headliner and he ended the evening on a high note. Instead of his usual piano accompaniment, he accompanied himself on harmonica. Sam can really sing & play the blues, moreover he entertained us with five easy pieces but concluded with a doleful blues song called This Used To Be A Railroad Town. Great set. Great performance. A great night.

Before I go I'd like to thank Pete Davey for all his efforts in arranging & publicizing this wonderful WonderZoo event as well as the galvanising efforts of Gabi Marcellus Temple who between them are making WonderZoo a special place to be part of the Plymouth Art Scene and so much they are planning that take WonderZoo to new levels well Done you two. Also Thanks to Helen More, Jackie Wacha & Donna Maughan and everybody else that are now supporting WonderZoo special thanks to Sarah Chapman and please come see us at Respect Festival with our dear Friends Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council see you there Folks….

WonderZoo at the Block Party, Stoke Village Fun Day July 21st Images  Here

Artists included 
Rock Fit Choir /Hel Bee/Matt Thomas/
The Playwriters/Jo Higson/Sarah Chapman/Katie Oborn/

James Turner/James Bridgwater/Keith Pollard Amazing Organ Movie Themes/Martin Hazell Singer Songwriter/Stoke Ukulele Players Folk/William Telford/Julian Isaacs/Franklin Street Songwriters/Grunge/

Jonathan Spurling with Sarah Adams /

Peter davey with Mo Bottomley


WonderZoo Presents An Open Mic Night!  our first full open mic night CawFee Cafe Union Street Plymouth June 2019

The review a gig, a collab between WonderZoo/Client Culture for Client Cultures second magazine launch - Land, Place and Home is in from our lovely MC Pete Golding <3 Enjoy!

WONDERZOO @ CAWFEE  Wednesday 26th June


















It was a sticky evening: Wednesday 26th June => 7.30pm @ WonderZoo @ Cawfee on Union Street. Sticky in several senses. Michael DAX helped us get unstuck by reciting several lyrics which plunged us from Stormy Daniels to Sidmouth via Britney Spears in his own imitable way, a mixture of song, rhyme, chant & evocation as bizarre as only he knows how. Daniel LEAHY followed combining sound effects [a cymbal & a violin-bow] and prose which was as sticky as glue and as intoxicating as Evostick. [Other adhesives are available in DIY stores] Margaret CORVID read out two sonnets, the second sonnet addressed the misery of unrequited love and wrought moisture to many an eye in the room. Such sensitivity could melt metal. Self-proclaimed eco-poet Samantha CARR recited three poems including lifeguard and regrettably drowning. So little time and so much to do, we were reminded. Mansell KNOTT talked about his project Kintsugi [] which I urge you to investigate as it covers podcasts, radio broadcasts, music, art, gardening, advice, therapy and lots more interesting stuff at the click of a button. Check it out. Stop reading this. Check it out.

GRUNGE [a.k.a. Pete DAVEY] is the imperator of rampage & rampage he did, booming across the venue, shaking us to the foundations. Whether standing, sitting, crawling or lying on the astro-turf we [the assembled] were loudly berated for our apathy, complacency or inertia by the ring-master of rage, the GRUNGE. He takes no prisoners. We're all implicated, apparently. In contrast Helen MOORE introduced us to CLIENT CULTURE's [ ] CC rolled out its second magnificent zine on the theme of land, place & home. Client Culture includes local writers writing about local issues and explores the political, historical, social and creative scene here in Plymouth & is well worth a delve. I seem to remember being interrupted by a talking bear called Pete the Bear demanding he should be allowed in the magazine from which he held a public vote and a collective decision by everybody voted for Pete the Bear to be included in the third Issue of Client Culture, it might have been the humidity. It was a sweltering and I’m sure Pete the bear called Helen a bitch. Tom VOLWER read out an extended extract from his second published collection of short stories [ Dazzling The Gods] which described the escapades of Brett & Sally as they explored the various locations in Paris on a hot Summers day. How very appropriate on a hot summer’s evening in Plymouth, the difference being of course was the menace imbued in their meanderings a great ending to the first half by a Master of storytelling.



The 2nd Half started with Phil SMITH recited a couple of heart-felt poems including a poetic Apology and some reminiscences about the days of disco. Somehow Phil made me think I missed something there. I suppose that is what good poetry does. It takes the familiar & makes it something special and if you do that with disco, you are a magician. Pete DAVEY [formerly Grunge] began the second half by reciting a heart-felt poem about his Mum which made us all pause, think, reflect & remember the millions of things our mothers did for us which for the most part went unnoticed & under-appreciated. The unredoubtable Merris LONGSTAFF recited two poems; the first was called Love and was the story of a love affair gone bad. The second was untitled and addressed the subject of racism in our deeply divided society. Hel BEE introduced us to the brutality of the British welfare system and how dreadfully inhumane it can be toward those of us with mental health issues & how it can force some claimants to turn to sex work to supplement their incomes. Maybe GRUNGE is right. We're all implicated in allowing this to happen to some the most vulnerable in our callous society.

In complete contrast Rose WEBBER recounted her hilarious mishaps on a holiday to Australia. Part-stand-up and part rap this was a star turn from a unique talent. Using a combination of two phones, one for the music and one for her lyrics, Rose delighted us with some Australian-style rap.


William TELFORD reminisced about an eccentric Ulster-man as also explained how journalism works. Apparently the apes have taken over the apiary. What's the best bod to come out of Manchester city since Boddington's? Brian HERDMAN. And Brian recited six poems but my favourite was his first entitled I'm nice. And Brian is nice. Moreover we had a nice evening in a nice venue with a lot of nice people and a whole lot of very special performers, all at the top of their game. For this we have to thank Pete Davey, Helen Moore, Gabi Marcellus-Temple as well as our welcoming hosts at Cawfee. The Evening ended with headliner Julian ISAACS; topped the bill tonight and as always created a convivial atmosphere by reading out six poems as suggested by members of the audience. Julian's rock and roll-er poems are exhilarating, funny and poignant and like Brian HERDMAN [before him] can mutate from glee to gloom in the flick of an eye. Julian is a terrific performer and concluded a terrific evening to unglue any stickiness. Another fab terrific night at WonderZoo's new venue Cawfee! Lovely people with truly lovely writers bringing life back to the old Union Street and a real good turnout: the place was packed, the performances generally excellent and the vibe, well, vibrant and full of culture and Just dead fun.

Plymouth Fringe Festival Barbican  Theatre May 2019 WonderZoo is Present Images from our show 

An evening with Matt Gilbert 




Review by Pete Golding 

and Images by Helen Moore

An evening of poetry, performance and art celebrating the life and work of Matt Gilbert - in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust supported
by Plymouth Community Arts & Events Network.

Matt was an inspirational young man, tragically lost to testicular cancer at 19. His book, Unfinished Works, illustrated by Plymouth and international artists, was available to buy on the night and there was an exhibition of images from the book by Pete Davey, Gabi Marcellus-Temple, Louise Rabey, Satu Peltoniemi, Reuben McCormack-White and Dom Marcellus-Temple on show with many of the artworks bought for charity. 

William Telford was the headline Artist with each the writer performing work and read from Matt's book as well as their own.
Other writers included Plymouth's poet laureate Thom Boulton, theatre performer Danny Strike, Pilot's Thumb JJ McColl theatre performer ,Gabi Marcellus-Temple, Ray Vibrations,Helen Moore, Matt Thomas, Sarah Chapman, Roisin's Brother

It wouldn't be an event about Matt Gilbert without a Yorkshirewoman, and  Gabi Marcellus-Temple performing her own poetry in honor to Matt's work  acted out this role in her works. This was  Followed by an amazing opportunity from world famous guitarist Jimmy Appudurai-Chua who alongside Meltones played on same night there be Music by Jonathan Spurling and his motley crew.

The evening ended with the latest supergroup to hit the Plymouth scene - KURGISS CHESS is a collaboration between sound-based prankster HiP.P and the notorious Pete Davey. The covered work by Matt's favourite bands - The Kaiser Chiefs, The Jam and Franz Ferdinand, while Helen Moore and Gabi Marcellus-Temple create live artat same time. Probably the best live performance event the world has ever seen - in memory of an astoundingly gifted young man and raising funds for a great cause.


Tragic Matt inspires campaign for hospital wards for teenagers

WONDERZOO launched CLIENT CULTURE so it was a night to remember and a night to jubilate. And jubilate we did, too. Moreover, JO HIGSON joined the organisers of WONDERZOO, so now it has expanded to include [CEO] PETE DAVEY, creative director HELEN MOORE, publicist DONNA MAUGHAM as well as GABI MARCELLUS-TEMPLE [executive producer] and JACKIE WACHA [chief architect] although as usual PETE GOLDING added next to nothing to the jubilation.

ROB C. guitar in hand, serenaded us with songs inspired by Steinbeck or Matt Haig or the coming apocalypse or by being “more of a Janner than you’ll ever be.” Great lyrics. Great acoustic guitarist. Great voice. Great performer and a great start to a great evening. Love this guy. He’s great. Phew.


HEL B. changed everything. HEL B’s two poems were heartbreaking, personal & highly intimate. They told of persecution, bullying and heartless abuse, thoughtlessly inflicted by thugs and eejits against the most vulnerable people in our society. We know it happens, but HEL B. reminded us it is still happening and, along with HEL B. we want to live in a world where it shouldn’t happen but that, sadly, seems a long way off, at present. It takes courage to put yourself out there and to put your insides-out for all to see. HEL B. had that courage.

SIMON WILLIAMS brought a badger along for company. How he managed to turn Forbes Rich List into poetry was a surprise. However, he also rendered up a [near] prize-winning limerick as well as a couple of double dactyls about David Cameron and Jacob Rees-Mogg. You never can tell what to expect at WONDERZOO. A terrific turn from SIMON. Thank you, sir.

What can I say about JULIAN ISAACS without repeating myself? JULIAN is a master wordsmith, prolific writer and terrific performer. Tonight he reminded us of the passing of Rankin Roger [from The Beat] as well as summoning up the late Leonora Carrington’s Oval Lady. However much to my surprise JULIAN confided in us that he is not God. Bang goes that theory. JULIAN is however divine, and long may his star shine as brightly as he did tonight at WONDERZOO at RUMPUS COSY.


JO HIGSON [the latest member of the WONDERZOO team] read two poems, the second of which was inspired by a druidic view of wrens, sometimes it is the littlest things that stir the most wondrous feelings. Fabulous, in both senses of the word. PETE DAVEY read out two of his own poems and, one by the late MATT GILBERT [who was taken from us all too soon] PETE’s eulogy to his mother was deeply moving but his eulogy to a lost cat was hilarious, two sides to his Protean character, I suppose. The efforts he and GABI MARCELLUS-TEMPLE made to ensure that MATT GILBERT’s work has been published and heard, is nothing less than altruistic. Hats off to you both.

The forever effervescent HELEN MOORE, then, took to the mike to tell us of the launch of CLIENT CULTURE, a creative & critical response to the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower anniversary in 2020. She already has a podcast online and CC can be found on FaceBook or InstaGram but tonight she launched the first issue of her exciting new magazine entitled ‘Journey.’ Tonight, it sold-out. No surprises there. Beautifully produced, with contributions from Alan Norman, Robin Markland, Jo Higson, Rostam Hakeem, Jak Whitfield, Thom Boulton, Richard Thomas, Hel B. & Pete Davey amongst others. An exciting publication and one I thoroughly & unreservedly recommend.


ABBIE [with a friend on drums] taught us two songs in Yoruba. ABBIE sang and called, and we responded. In Yoruba. How cool is that? Moreover, she entertained us with a parable about a beautiful butterfly and an artful story about how to outwit a Cornish farmer when purchasing cattle. ABBIE is a sparkling performer, entertainer, published writer & presence. She provided a thoroughly entertaining end to the first half of the evening. A real highlight. On the off-chance you’re reading this, ABBIE, please come back soon before we forget the Yoruba you have taught us.

When not falling off a chair MICHEAL DAX is always entertaining. Tonight, he regaled us in his own inimitable way. He rhapsodized about [a] singer Tom Jones [b] the Star-Spangled Banner and [c] the joys of ABBA but it was the chorus addressed to Stormy Daniels that lingers. “But did you bump Donald Trump?” asked MICHEAL DAX. How could you say no to that? MICHEAL DAX has a unique delivery, sometimes rhyming, sometimes singing, sometimes chanting, sometimes declaiming but, all the time, entertaining in his very own inimitable fashion. Luckily for him [and for us] he wasn’t hurt when a chair collapsed beneath him. Truth to tell, I thought he did it for laughs. I was wrong. He made a miraculous recovery and, like the trooper he is, the show went on, as if nothing untoward had happened. I do hope you’ve fully recovered. We look forward to your imminent return, Mister DAX.


DANIEL LEAHY is an original. He read out several of his own compositions, firstly Moloch, secondly, The Phoenix, thirdly, The Celloist and lastly Into the Bushes. He sometimes accompanied himself with a didgeridoo with a cymbal attached [!] Sometimes he sought quotes from established authors such as Carl Jung or Alexander Solzhenitsyn which he blended into his own distinctive compositions. Sometimes he quoted from his own collection of published prose poems and sometimes he recited with no props at all. He certainly made quite an impression on all of us present. Well done, DANIEL.

STU St. CLAIR began his set with an emotional heart-breaker entitled ‘I tried to tell you that I loved you.’ Luckily, he also wrote on the trials and tribulations of selling his house and worries of becoming a hypochondriac, but it is the tear-jerker [I tried to tell you that I loved you] that sticks in the craw. Unrequited love is tragic, isn’t it.


GABI MARCELLUS-TEMPLE read us a gripping fairy story inspired by Stonehouse which featured the rise and fall of a giant princess. Part fairy story, part parable, GABI led us into an enchanting world where nothing was quite as dreamy as it first seemed. More Grimm than Gaiman. More gruesome than happily-ever-after, for sure.

SAM RICHARDS concluded the evening by sitting at the piano and serenaded us with four jaunty songs including a commentary on an upstairs neighbour and a song about shoes. However, my favourite was ‘If I can’t be as good as Jesus, then I don’t wanna be good at all’ SAM provided the end to a special evening. He is an excellent pianist, a witty writer and an accomplished singer. A lovely end to a lovely evening.


In conclusion I’d like to thank RUMPUS COSY for providing such a salubrious setting for WONDERZOO and the launch of CLIENT CULTURE, namely SALLY and DARREN [both hospitable hosts and generous patrons] Many thanks to you both for providing such an ambient locale. We are indebted. We hope to be back on the last Wednesday of next month if you’ll have us. I hope to see you there, too.

The above review was written for WonderZoo by the, terrific, adorable and brilliant mind working behind the scenes Pete Golding; who doesn’t give himself enough credit for his wondrous reflections he graces as with after every gig each month! Next Month we will be presenting the works of Matt Gilbert, a young writer that passed away; who will take center stage with not only an evening of more fab spoken word and performance but an exhibition of the Art works featured in the Published book; ‘Unfinished works’ by Society of Young Publishers. All money raised on the night will go to the Teenage Cancer Trust – so come along and join in the fun and madness of WonderZoo!!

WonderZoo Beat The Blues 
Thursday 21st February 2019 @ RUMPUS COSY  Review by Pete Golding 
and Images by Helen Moore

This was an epic evening.

It began with CRAB & BEE taking us on a magical tour through some local landmarks, linking together legends and myths, the physical and the metaphysical. Never has walking appeared so enchanting or so exhilarating.

GABI MARCELLUS TEMPLE and PETE DAVEY read out three poems published posthumously by the late MATT GILBERT. MATT died all too young, not long enough to realise his ambition to be published. Tragic. However GABI and PETE ensured MATT’s poems were not only heard tonight but also that they are now in print. His poems were bracing if a little melancholic.

KEVIN KELLAND read out a section from Ripples by ROLAND CHESTER which recounted the horror and effects on friends, family and the wider community after being diagnosed with HIV. Devastating in a word. No less devastating was KEVIN's own poems on the same harrowing theme.

ARIADARNE played and sang some beautiful songs in a clear beautiful voice and eventually she coaxed us to sing along: “Ayllu, somos, ayllu, we stick together to say no to war!”

MATT THOMAS composed a poem in honour of not only PETE's birthday but also NICKY's. As both shared this birthday MATT created a funny faux horoscope which made us laugh. He finished his turn by meditating About Love from its banality to its utter special sweetness.

JAMIE WRIGHT recited four poems on some very serious topics as he meditated on a tree in a crematorium and asked rhetorically how’s your life working out for you? He wouldn’t need to ask if it was. JAMIE [like MERRIS LONGSTAFF] is none too pleased about Brexit either.

NICK SPARGO [usually so good humoured and jovial] read out three poems but the middle on was a bitter-sweet account / recollection, entitled After the Gulf War. No laughing matter, more like a crying shame.

JULIAN ISAACS [one of Plymouth’s premier poets] read out several pieces in his own inimitable fashion. His poems twist and turn so what may start as a tickle could end as a knife wound.

JACKIE WACHA presented PETE DAVEY with a couple of gorgeous T shirts, one featuring Bob Marley, as a birthday present. PETE looked as pleased as Punch and JACKIE received a well-deserved round of applause.It takes a lot of bottle to play and sing in front of a large crowd especially for the first time, but LILLEY was up for it. She sat, played guitar and sang Guns and Roses and Adele. LILLEY has a nice voice and was greeted warmly. I am sure that with more experience and practice she will do herself proud. As PETE pointed out, WonderZoo prides itself in welcoming & encouraging fresh talent and LILLEY undoubtedly has talent.


The second half re-
commenced with PETE DAVEY reading three of his own poems, the second of which was a tender piece addressed to his late mother, who clearly loved him very much. Thank you for sharing. Very brave. We are all in your debt.

KATIE OBORN read out three poems, one of which was observing the piazza and Royal Parade over a year, capturing the changes in the seasons, the weather, the people and their mutations. Spell-binding and beguiling.

HELEN MOORE sang four songs accompanied by a ukulele. She seemed exclusively focussed on PETE and at his request we heard HELEN's beautiful version of Teenage Kicks and Rain Drops Keep Falling on my Head. Ms. MOORE has presence and a singing voice to die for. I think we were all a little envious of PETE being serenaded so shamelessly.

We welcomed MERRIS LONGSTAFF to the mike, but she only recited one poem entitled Brexit Coming, a bitter / sweet satire on the horrible birth of the hideous monster we call Brexit. Funny but kind of acerbic, too.

HEL. B treated us to a short story so freshly minted it had no title. I say short story but perhaps it would be more accurate to describe it as a ghost story, with competing voices and haunting imagery.

BRIAN HERDMAN shared five poems with us. The first was light in texture but the remainder were deadly serious. After Diagnosis and In Extremis, for instance, were meditations on mortality. A serious writer addressing sombre themes demands and received our full attention.

MARGARET CORVID shared several poems with us. As with many of the writers tonight what seemed to be quite jovial such as Happy Women’s Day gave us pause for thought as did the sobering lines inspired by International Holocaust Day. Ms. CORVID is a poet of clarity and immediacy whose humanity is apparent in everything she writes and reads.

WILLIAM TELFORD is a published writer, author, journalist, poet and all-round good egg. His poems have a discernible narrative which takes the listener on an emotional journey whether it is to the Planet of the Apes or Thus Spake Jacobo. Before us stands a master of his craft at the peak of his powers. Thank you, WILLIAM TELFORD, for being our headliner this evening and for rounding off such an exuberant wonderful evening.

Having said that, the evening actually concluded with some sound experimentations created by GABI MARCELLUS TEMPLE and HIPPY. These experimentations were otherworldly and quixotic. They provided a soundtrack for the rest of us to gather our thoughts as well as our things and recollect what a wonderful evening we have had celebrating PETE DAVEY’s birthday. Thank you, GABI. Thank you, HIPPY. Thanks to RUMPUS COSY and, in particular the ever-attentive Sally Briar Taylor and the ever-amiable and her support and love always to Faceless dressed up in blue this time dress and Darren Felber our hosts. Thank you to Donna Maughan for baking and sharing out two birthday cakes, one for vegans, the other for omnivores. Nom-nom. A big thank you to HELEN for freely distributing her zines to mark the occasion of PETE’s fabulous birthday. Thanks to JACKIE for her support and generosity. However, I reserve my greatest and biggest thanks to PETE DAVEY for arranging, publicising and promoting all these wonderful WONDERZOO events and for giving writers a platform to perform on and for providing the rest of us, the audience, with a unique evening’s free entertainment. Thank you, PETE DAVEY.


Review by Pete Golding

WonderZoo hit an all-time high tonight with star-turns from Spenser Shute, Jane Whitfield, Michael Dax, Heather Grange, Patrick Holde & Sam Richards and that was just the first half! In the second half of this wonderful tumultuous evening we were lucky to be graced with contributions from Helen B, Sarah Chapman, Gabi Marcellus-Temple, Merris Longstaff, Nick Spargo, Brian Herdman, and the explosive Spoils Collective.

However. I would like to start by acknowledging the tremendous organising abilities of PETE DAVEY in fashioning this rumbustious event. Thanks also to RUMPUS COSY in hosting the event as well as the unseen organising efforts of JACKIE WACHA, not forgetting the inestimable contribution by HELEN MOORE.

Our tumultuous evening began with the redoubtable SPENCER [SHUTE] unmiked, connecting the rock & roll years with painters, movies and music in a medley of reminisces connecting the past with the present as a critique of the future. Quite a ride. JANE WHITFIELD followed by conjuring up various persona including 1) Preppy 2) Dex and 3) his Beautiful Machine. Don’t get it? You should have been there. He took us to the event horizon and back again. HEATHER GRANGE read out three prose poems, the first of which was a touching eulogy to her grandfather, the second to the lately discovered Jewish cemetery near the Hoe and the third to Gustave Guillaument’s Women In An Eastern Courtyard. All quiet beguiling. The penultimate reader was PATRICK HOLDE who lampooned Donald Trump hilariously as well as being inspired by Norman Ohler’s treatise that the Nazis were a bunch of drug-addled fiends [while being a bunch of psychopathic fascist-racists, whom we all deplore] before summoning up the ghost of Jimi Hendrix with his The Wind Cries BreXit. We laughed, despite ourselves! Finally, the first half concluded with the gifted poet-singer & bluesy-pianist, Sam Richards. His poems were funny. His piano-playing was artful and his singing beguiling. His autobiographical piece about his first job will linger long after our memorable evening concluded.

After a short break the evening re-convened with HELEN B. reading a shockingly heart-felt, moving piece which she called Fake but there was nothing fake about its heart-breaking candour. We love you, Helen. SARAH CHAPMAN shared with us some Problems with Communication including problems with letters, problems with emails, problems with censorship and problems in meetings. We share your pain SARAH but somehow you made it fun to listen to, if not fun to deal with. GABI MARCELLUS-TEMPLE [inspired by Balzac, apparently] took us to the most harrowing bodily experience of being convulsed and writhing in unimaginable agony which was both horribly torturous but oddly winsome, at the same time. MERRIS LONGSTAFF read out three rhyming poems about the ever-present reality of racism in this deeply divided country of ours but me, personally, I liked the crescendo to her master-piece: never fuck with a black woman. Amen to that. NICK SPARGO is a gentleman. He read three delightful nostalgic pieces, the first of which invoked was the comforting Friday Night, the second was on the less comforting subject of the war in VietNam in the 1960s and the last You Know You’re Old which jovially & tellingly summed up the present-day, for us baby-boomers. BRIAN HERDMAN read three poems which amused and bemused us. He opened with The Blame Game. Became nostalgic for psychedelic drugs and appalled us with his account of close friend’s fatal affliction In Extremis. Inimitable.

Finally, to top a fabulous evening of veritable delights, the SPOILS COLLECTIVE took the stage and presented a challenging set of musical mayhem, assorted hilarity and bizarre diversements. We had PETE DAVEY engaging with MARION MAZ in a sort of paint-splattering fest accompanied by the band urging us to greater insurgency and revolt against the powers-that-be. Check out HELEN MOORE’s pix for confirmation if you doubt me. The SPOIL’S COLLECTIVE believe in multi-tasking with several band members taking turns as lead singer. MARION MAZ is a bewitching lead with a haunting voice. KAHUNA JAY sang beautifully and played rhythm guitar. MO BOTTOMLEY sang while at the keyboard and doubled on bass guitar. JANE WHITFIELD sang outrageously when not playing a snazzy trumpet. Their compositions are a hybrid of post-punk and art-house with a hint of cool combining intelligent lyrics and insistent rhythms complimented by accomplished musicianship. This band can play (!) and JANE WHITFIELD & MARION MAZ have star quality. What a fabulous way to finish a fabulous evening. Thank you SPOILS COLLECTIVE. And thanks to all those involved in making it happen, PETE DAVEY, JACKIE WACHA and the very talented HELEN MOORE. Tonight we peaked.