Bill Manhire


The Party Next Door

New people moved in, and so every Friday night the next-door house had a party. Guests came dressed as cowboys, and left their horses in the street. There was music which we did not like, and it kept us awake long into the night, and there were cries of ‘Yippee!’ and so on. The horses left their giant droppings on the footpath and the road. I suggested burning the house down, but my wife was against that. She suggested we have a rival party.

We put word around among the young people of the community. They invited their friends, who invited other friends in bars and sports clubs, and soon we had a huge party which spilled over into the garden of the people next door. Some of the cowboys came out, and there were fist fights among the cabbages, but our side won easily through sheer weight of numbers. Youth was on our side also. The cowboys were middle-aged and, one or two of them, quite old.

Our house was a mess afterwards, but our neighbours moved away quite soon after that. We think a single woman lives next door now, but most of the time the place seems empty. Occasionally an elderly man in cowboy costume will turn up on a Friday night. He rings the bell and asks loudly for the Galletly boys. There is some mumbled conversation, after which he says, ‘Thank you, ma’am,’ and rides away, dejected.



Bill Manhire directs the creative writing programme at Victoria University of Wellington. His Collected Poems was published in 2001 by Victoria University Press and Carcanet, while a new collection, Lifted, will be published later this year. He recently edited the world’s first anthology of fiction and poetry with Antarctic settings, The Wide White Page: Writers Imagine Antarctica.