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Reputational Damage

In an era where the value of memorials to old men [even of virtuous reputation] are under more public scrutiny than at any previous time in our nation's history [statues can come down as well as up*] it might seem perverse that Alma Mater College is launching a capital campaign [£250,000] to commemorate three of its “great men” [make that "its three great men" [Ed]] in bronze. For anyone who requires a reminder, the College’s three great men are: Field Marshall Pikerel-Innes [1534], Sir Roger de Parpièce [1629] and Mallory Court [1926] [For further details, see Professor Brian Thrupiece: The Corporate Story [HERE]].


* Note for example the case of Sir William Sensodyne-Colgate, the late 19th century toothpaste magnate whose statue was recently torn down from its plinth in the Market Square, Broadstone. On March 5th of last year, it was unceremoniously dumped in the town sewer after crowds mistakenly identified Sir William as the man who introduced segregated stripes into his patent paste extrusion tube. The invention was in fact that of his cousin Sir Oral B Gibbs.


Alma Mater College's decision seems on the face of it a perverse one, seriously out of step with both modern times and the College’s well-publicised determination to [a] rid itself of all unhappy historic associations [b] fall into general line with the zeitgeist of the times and [c] alienate as many of its former donors as possible. Since none of these great men, one imagines, would survive even casual scrutiny - though the first two were fortunate to be born before the era of full-blown slavery and Mallory Court shares only our collective guilt in being male and having been born at all** - the Governing Body’s determination to commission likenesses from sculptor Dauban Payste seems strangely irrational.


** There is, on the other hand, no record of any of them issuing a public apology on behalf of either their ancestors or their progeny for their subsequent/previous behaviours and, as such, they should surely not escape censure? [Ed]


A toppled statue of one of Alma Mater College's less well regarded members floats down river past another well-known Cambridge landmark.

Perhaps in recognition of the potential unease such bold erections may engender - and by way of compensation for the same - the College has simultaneously announced a further capital campaign to establish and support a Research Fellowship in Forensic Legacy Assessment. Fellow for Development, Mr Bloodfromastone Strongarm says that the recipient of the Fellowship [initial stipend £44,000 pa with incentivised "name, shame and expunge" bonuses] will be charged with examining, without fear or favour, the College’s historic connection to slavery and other despicable acts with a view to removing from the record, repudiating the gifts [whilst keeping their cash value] and taking down memorials to any former member, benefactor or friend whose personal history does not stand up to modern ethical standards. It is widely rumoured that up to 87% of males who matriculated before 2019 could be stripped of their membership and removed permanently from the archives. It will be left to a wholly independent, fair-minded and hand-picked tribunal chaired by former master Dr Hawthorn Straggleybeard to convict unanimously anyone identified by the research process. The College hopes to raise £4.4 million to fund the witch-hunt.


HISTORICAL NOTE by Alma Mater College Archivist Redak Shon


The Thjree Alma Mater Great Men: Field Marshall Pikerel-Innes [1534] [as Pasha], Sir Roger de Parpièce [1629] and Mallory Court [1926]

The famous three "great men" of Alma Mater College might so easily have been the famous four "great men" had the achievements of Professor Sir Brian Thrupiece been appropriately recognised in the early 2000s when his reputation was perhaps at its zenith. The story of the multiple mis-steps through which he and his legacy were failed by his old college is a sad one which bears multiple re-tellings. Here, however, we concentrate on those that "made it" and whose achievements are to be "set in bronze" should the Capital Project to commission "irremovable" effigies [should that be statues? [Ed]] prove successful.


1. Field Marshall Pikerel-Innes [1516-1582] was famously involved in the Ottoman–Safavid War of 1532 to 1555 where he fought as a mercenary alongside Suleiman the Magnificent during the fall of Basra in 1546. This led to the flight of the Safavid government, and was a significant step towards eventual Ottoman victory and the procurement of the lower Mesopotamia, the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, opening a trading outlet into the Persian Gulf. Field Marshall Pikerel-Innes was named an Honorary pasha in 1547 and his elevation to an Honorary Fellowship of Alma Mater College followed only 400 years later in 1936.


2. Sir Roger de Parpièce [1610-1673], on the other hand, was - as even his sister Lady Tunic de Chambre-Separée attested - “a truly rotten piece of work [pun fully intended]”. It was he who, on October 23rd 1642 at the Battle of Edgehill, turned potential victory into a stalemate as his Royalists forces decided to “knock off early and retire to The King's Head for a goodly bout of wenching”]. Returning to the fray on November 13th, he was late to the Battle of Turnham Green after which the Royalist forces withdraw in face of the Parliamentarian army, and failed to take London. Sir Roger sought solace for the defeat in characteristic style - he gave his trousers to charity and “his manhood to any girl that would have the use of it”.


3. The achievements of Mallory Court [1908-1924], whose loss of a Kodak Instamatic camera during his epic nitrous-oxide-assisted climb of Ben Nevis in 1924 are well-documented and require no rehearsal here, was the subject of a recent Exhibition at the College in its newly opened Recreation, Learning and Alternative Holistic Well-being Centre. He was described by his College bedder as a man “more familiar with the male anatomy than any man of his age and public school background ought to be". His obituary in the College's official magazine of record - The Alma Mater Trumpet and Echo, 1924 - says of him that "The kettle, so to speak, was always on the boil and he was ready to butter anybody's scone the moment his oak was sported”. Appropriately, his manly achievements are already commemorated in a plaque prominently mounted in the Buttery Passage.


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