“Put it down to experience,” Tess says, beginning our next ascent.
Our glockenspiels glint in the sun. Ahead of us: eight more glockenspielers. Ahead of them: Wanda our blonde-bobbed Manager, high-stepping in leatherette boots and cowgirl fringing, waving a baton in the refugee camp breeze.
Booooooooooompppp sounds the tuba, wrapped around a lumpen guard bringing up the rear. Any slower and he’d be marching backwards.
The Happy Times Elevenette is the camp’s official cheer-up squad, marching the hilly streets dispensing goodwill. Tess and I are seconded from our English-teaching positions.
Clunk, ting, ping, sounds my hammer on the gleaming keys. One more bum note and I’ll be struck down by lightning.
“Wouldn’t it be easier if Wanda just learned to do her job?” I say, spying refugee residents (‘clients’ in the official parlance) curtain-twitching at their windows.
In over her head managing the camp’s education and activities programme, Wanda has morphed her job into something she can do: a weekday version of her weekend brass band-conducting hobby.
Wanda high-steps aside as we crest a curve, evil-eyeing me through Jersey-cow-length false eyelashes, and waves her baton: dispensing rhythm or casting a curse, I can’t tell.
I hammer a high C.
“It’ll look good on your C.V.,” Tess whispers.
Marching down the hill, I think of verbs I could be declining in my classroom-tent. And of my growing bank balance, each jolting step, each clunking hammer-dong more money towards the hitman I’m paying to release us from this tinkling hell.