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AMCBY: It's That Time Of Year Again!

Alma Mater College Book of the Year

Our Books of the Year correspondent, Costa Mann-Booker writes:

The festive season is upon us once again and what better way to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour [Christ, Jesus H, MA [Jesus Coll] PhD [Corpus Christi] Hon Fellow [Oxford Brookes]] than to revel in the joy and excitement that is the Annual Alma Mater College Book of the Year Award.

Endowed in 2012 following a donation from The Threadbone Press, the Prize is given to any book published by the Threadbone Press as long as it is authored by a Member of Alma Mater College. Though works by alumni are eligible, the judges are enjoined to award the prize to a current or former Fellow whenever possible. This year Fellows published books on a variety of generally unimportant topics ranging from popular science, through abstract philosophy to history, economics and literature. Amongst the shortlisted titles were: “Making Science Fun: My Life as a Globe-trotting Self Publicist” by Avios Ayre-Miles; “Two On, Five Off; Or How to Tank the Economy” by Brandon Birchanger-Exchange; "Bardic Voices: Welsh Theology 526-589 AD" by Hawthorn Stragglybeard [former Master and Chief Druid] and "Weird Topographies" by Vitali Statistiki.

The winner - announced yesterday at a lavish ceremony in the College’s new multi-million pound award winning Recreational Centre* was, however, something of a “left field” choice: "Decolonizing the Camera: a Century of Alma Mater College Matriculation Photographs" by visiting Post-Commonwealth Fellow Dr Ivor Bocks-Brownie.

*the reception was held in the magnificent splendour of the Sultan Osama Bin Trouserleg Safespace and presided over by Threadbone Press CEO Mrs Amanda J Threadbone, Head Judge and second cousin once removed  of winner  Dr Bocks-Brownie.

Dr Bocks-Brownie was elected to the College in October 2022 as part of its post-Contrik-69, Truth and Reconciliation Commission through which it hope to identify individuals and institutions with a doubtful past, apportion blame and exact retribution whilst protecting current assets and avoiding the repatriation of any goods, donations or continuing sources of financial support. "In this it has been largely successful", a 2023 Report has concluded.

Threadstones sales assistant M T Shelves [who coincidentally chose Decolonizing the Camera as her Book of the Month for January [“It was a slow month in publishing circles”] ] describes the publication as a fearless, no-holds barred, no punches-pulled, viscerally honest and fiercely forensic account of the scandalous history of the College’s matriculation photographs which illustrate - beyond peradventure - that up until the mid 20th century the College was “some distance short of being as diverse as we might have hoped and would now find acceptable”. “The under-representation of children under 12, adults over 30 and clothes of freedom and colour [especially before 1910] is quite remarkable”, she says,  “but this book really brought that home”. “I had no idea prior to reading Dr Bocks-Brownie’s book that the past was so murky, the people were so old-fashioned or stood so still, or that life so resolutely black and white.  Whilst its true that no-one suffered from post-colonial guilt back then, they don't half look serious. I am guessing its the turn-ups on the trousers and the fact they have to wear ties all the time. The whole thing is actually quite an eye-opener”.

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