I went to a boys grammar school in the 1960s, and corporal punishment, while not an everyday occurrence, was regular. You could receive a plimsoll or ruler across the bottom or be spanked with the hand, and our gym master used to have you bend over in just shorts and would flick your bottom with his finger tips. All these punishments were carried out in front of the class. You could also receive lines and detentions.

If you were sent to the Headmaster then you would be caned, and with it being in private everybody was very apprehensive about receiving it.

Also, every month if your overall work standard was classed by your masters as being unsatisfactory you would be placed on report for the following month and for the first 3 years I was at the school this merited an automatic 3 strokes of the cane. It was changed to 3 stokes of the cane if you were given a poor performance in a lesson and 6 strokes if you were given an unsatisfactory performance over the month.

During my first 5 years, I received several detentions and felt the slipper on about 9 occasions. I had escaped a certain caning on 2 occasions by the skin of my teeth.

On one occasion, 8 of us were walking home at night smoking and we were caught by the prefects who took everybody’s name but mine and another boy as we were about 10 yards behind the rest and put our cigarettes out before they saw us. The following morning, the other 6 were called out of class and all received 3 strokes and had to copy out a leaflet on the dangers of smoking.

The second occasion was when it was my turn to sneak out of school at morning break to the local pie shop and for some unknown reason I returned via a different entry than usual and all those who used the normal break in the fence were caught and were all caned.

When we moved into the 6th form, the use of the cane became less frequent but it was still possible to receive it. It was at this time that I received my worst punishment to date.

We were in the shower after Gym when the gym master came in.

“You boys still in the shower, out here now! 6th form or not, I will not tolerate this noise.”

5 of us came out and were made to touch our toes as he came behind us and flicked each bottom cheek twice. I was at the end and he didn’t seem to connect properly with me and I hardly felt it. As we were told to stand the others started to rub their bottoms. I just stood there and turned to go and get dressed.

“H*****, back here! Did you not feel that then?”

“Yes, Sir.” I replied.

“Well, it couldn’t have been hard enough if you have not rubbed it, so bend over again.”

He took off his gym shoe and gave me 6 real stingers on the bare bottom.

As I was hopping around afterwards he said: “You certainly felt them, didn’t you?”

As we got dressed, all the rest were saying: “About time you got that. You have always managed to escape the cane but you never escaped that.”

At the end of the month I was put on report for the very first time and I had to go and stand at the front of the hall in assembly. I was sent to wait to receive my report card and was told it would commence the first day back after Christmas.

On the Monday of my last week on report, as I had been to get my card signed at the end of the day, I was rushing to catch up with everybody and, as usual, having a crafty fag when I turned the corner to see the gym master taking everybody’s name for smoking. I put mine out and was not seen.

As I just walked past everybody, I heard: “H*****, come here. Are you smoking?”

“No Sir, I have just been to have my report card signed by the Headmaster.”

“Carry on then.”

I went around the corner and waited. As they came, Ken and John were saying that it will be their first experience of the cane and commented that I had avoided it again.

The following day, they were all told to report to the Headmaster and caned. They were also given the leaflet to copy out.

That afternoon, our last lesson was a double period at the local swimming pool, so I didn’t have to get my report card signed till break the following day. As we were getting changed, there were 9 boys with 3 stripes on their bottoms and they all looked very sore. And there were comments to me that they hoped my bottom received stripes before too long. I just laughed it off.

I went to get my report card signed the following break and as I was about to leave, the gym Master came up and told me to wait as he went in to the headmaster.

After a few minutes I was called in and was told that some of the boys had said that I was smoking as well on Monday. The gym Master said he had suspected so, but they could not prove it. Then he left. Out of the blue the headmaster told me to empty my pockets and I pulled out a book of matches and a 5 packet of Nelson cigarettes.

The headmaster confiscated them and told me to remove my blazer and to bend over the arm of the chair against the wall. As I did this, he went to the cupboard behind his desk and removed a cane about 4’0” long and as thick as my finger. This was the first time I had ever seen a cane.

He walked to the side of me and placed the cane across my bottom.

“3 Strokes, H*****, and don’t move.”

The cane left my bottom before I heard ‘swoosh, Thwack’ as it landed. I thought it wasn’t too bad, but then the real pain ignited in my bottom like a red hot poker. As the next stroke landed, I uttered a shriek before the last one landed and before I knew it I was told to stand and put my blazer back on.

As I did so, I turned to see him writing in a book and I was asked to sign the last entry on the page which said:

H*****.  6th form science.  Caned  3 strokes on bottom. Smoking.

I was then handed a leaflet and told to return tomorrow before assembly with it copied out. As soon as I was outside, my hands went to my bottom and I could feel the welts rising.

I met up with the rest of the gang near the tennis courts and they asked where I had been. I told them I had to wait to get my report card signed but never told them that I had been caned.

By the time gym came round the following week, the marks were not really visible unless you really studied my bottom.

Just before the following Easter, I was placed on report for the second time. The last lesson before breaking up was Maths and I had forgotten to do my homework 2 days previously. Nothing was said but at the end of the lesson, as I picked up my report card, I noticed that I had been given an unsatisfactory for my homework.

As I headed off to get my card signed, I said I was catching the bus home and would see them all later. Nobody realised that I was going to be caned.

As I was the first there, I handed my card over and tried to make an excuse, but was told I had all the time to inform my Maths Master the previous day, had not done so, and would now face the consequences. I had to stand there as all the others had their cards signed. Luckily they were all from the junior school.

As I was told to enter the headmaster’s study, I noticed that the chair was actually in the middle of the room and the cane was already on his desk.

“Remove your blazer, bend over the arm of the chair and do not move or you will get extras. You are to receive 6 of the very best.”

I heard the rattle as he lifted the cane off the desk and a swoosh as he practised his swing. Then it rested on my bottom before moving, then the thwack came as it landed. Before the pain started, another 2 followed in rapid succession, before 2 more low down on my bottom. By this time I admit that tears were running down my face before I heard him take 2 or 3 steps back before running forward and delivering the final stroke with such force that I yelped in pain. As I was told to stand, my hands went straight to my bottom but I was told immediately to remove them and I had to sign the punishment book:

H*****. 6th form science. caned 6 strokes. failing to do homework while on report.

As I made my way to the bus stop, I was in agony with every step and hoped nobody would see me. As I went upstairs, I saw my girlfriend, Gill, and she moved to an empty seat and I sat next to her.

I could not get comfortable and she said: “Brian, what is the matter? You don’t seem yourself, and you are every quiet. Is it something I have done or said?”

I assured her it wasn’t, then added: “I will tell you if you don’t tell anybody else.”

“Of course I won’t, if you don’t want me to.”

“Thanks. I have just been caned; 6 of the best. I am hoping nobody will find out. I want to get home and changed before mum gets home.”

“That won’t matter. It will be on your school report when it comes in the post tomorrow. If you remember, my brother James was caned last year.”

As we arrived at our stop, we got off and she said: “If you want me to rub it better for you, let me know!”

The following morning over breakfast, my report had arrived and sure enough mum questioned me about being caned twice and the detentions I had served. But to this day, none of my school friends ever discovered that I had been caned twice at school as I was ashamed to admit the fact to them. I married my girlfriend and she said that she never told anybody either.

GH