I see the slender man for the first time on the school run. He is on Windermere Hill, a pothole-infested stretch of road just left of “Schafli cross," as locals refer to the crossroads on the Jikeleza coastal road near East London. A lone figure with a spade, wearing a tattered reflective jacket. On my way back, I see what he is up to.
He has a little cart heaped with rocks and soil and is transferring them into potholes. It has been raining, and here in our neck of the woods the road surface dissolves after even the lightest downpour. People have become sanguine about it (like just about everything else that requires a capable state). We swerve and dance (and drive around on grass verges) when the community-patched potholes inevitably reappear like old friends.
The road leading to our village is a special pockmarked edition of 50 Shades of Grey, from years of citizens' DIY maintenance; we use tar when we have enough money in our pay-what-you-can fund, cement when the kitty is running low...
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