Title: Songs of My Life

Author: Bill Manhire

In: Sport 11: Spring 1993

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, November 1993, Wellington

Part of: Sport

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Sport 11: Spring 1993


Those were the days.

Dunedin, slate roofs the colour of marriage. Ecumenical skyline: I still like that. Spires and turrets, the tops of liftshafts.

He went by the name of Johnny Flaxbush for so long—and it never did him any harm that I could see—but one day he had these posters which said ‘Pingao’ and I guess he was hoping hard for better things.

When the sun in the morning peeps over the hill
and kisses the roses on my window sill
then my heart fills with gladness when I hear the trill
of the birds in the treetops on Mocking Bird Hill.

Whoah now! hold it, hold it right there, Johnny Flaxbush . . . Pingao . . . whatever your name is . . . those words are someone else’s words, not original to you, and not linked to the life you record, which is my life. That page 36 was a big hit back in the dawn of the fifties people called it. 1951, if I’m not mistaken.

‘Oh,’ he says, ‘someone’s angry.’