|The Pavilion of Winchester College|
Warning: Intro contains concepts (possibly) geeky and too British
A groundsman is a mysterious human-like entity originating on the Isles. A groundsman is invariably male, and their perceived age vary between late teenage and weather-worn elder. They prosper in the countryside, although some have founds their good living conditions in cities. In this aspect groundsmen resemble vodniks (the vodyanoi) - though their cohabitation with humans is peaceful and they go largely unrecognised.
Groundsman have found their unique niche as keepers of sports grounds. Their skills at ensuring grass grows orderly in all seasons, soil dries or keeps moist and persuading moles and their relatives to move away from the grounds are unrivalled. These - apparently mystical powers - have earned groundsmen respect and sometimes reverence by humans. Curiously, even the arrogant and irreverent sports people (including footballers!) have been known to pay homage to groundsmen.
The Groundsman of Winchester College has decided to retire recently. Yesterday the College community gathered to express their thanks for 46 years for work and care. And what a gathering it was! Headmaster, gardeners, Second Master, sports people, Bursar, fund-raisers, secretaries and assistants past and present... Some in their suits, others in work clothes, some with their dogs.
There was tea, sandwiches, snacks and a dry witty speech of thanks by the Bursar. The groundsman then said a few words of his own. Funnily enough many people believed the gathering was so large because the Groundsman served for such unprecedented span of time. I beg to differ: they have come (some from hospital) to pay homage to a man who earned their affection and respect by his work and commitment. If one wanted to witness the bonds within Winchester College community, this was the chance.
Somewhat geeky addendum
If you have heard of the ball-tracking (Hawk-eye) technology in sports, you might like to know it originated in this part of the world - Hampshire. The cricket grounds around Winchester were the place of first tests of this technology. This just confirms the obvious - Winchester College groundsman was not just an ordinary man, a mere glorified gardener working on football pitch...