Dick Templemeads is a writer whose fictional stories are featured on our sister website www.overthedesk.com
I am in the middle of writing my next story in the Swishing Sixties series. Although all are works of pure fiction which are based around either major events or hit records from that decade, the next story, while liked to one of the Sixties’ major events, is actually based on an incident which occurred in 1964 when I was 8 years old and in the first year of primary school.
Those involved were all slippered for their part in the melee. Although not involved myself, my bottom only remained unblemished for an hour or so as I was slippered in the next lesson. This was to be the first but by no means last time that I was punished at school with something more severe than the hand spankings I’d already experienced, and would suffer again in the future.
However it is not the matter of slippering that I wish to dwell on now, but that ultimate school punishment, caning ,as the 45th anniversary of my first school caning recently occurred and although I have related this in OTD Memories I have collected some more thoughts on the incident which I’d like to share.
At my primary school all of the teachers were allowed recourse to the cane. Fortunately I never felt it though I came close on several occasions particularly when aged 11 and, with only a few weeks before I was due to go on to Grammar School, I was warned by the teacher that having been very talkative, I’d be caned if I spoke again that day. I did not relish being sent out in the corridor for what would have been one stroke across my left palm, so I managed to keep quiet for the rest of that afternoon.
At the Grammar school only the Headmaster was allowed (officially anyway) to cane, and generally this was given on the bottom. There were rumours that bare bottomed canings were sometimes inflicted but the first boy in my form, and indeed our year, to receive it said he was only made to remove his blazer and jumper. He received five strokes and said it was very painful, and a few weeks later he received a further caning, this time just three strokes. Only two other boys were caned in that first year. For me, in my first year, I racked up 7 detentions plus one whacking across the bottom with the board ruler from our Maths teacher.
The following years several other boys were caned, one on three occasions, and while I only got one detention all year, I received corporal punishment three times. I again had the board ruler from the Maths teacher, was slippered (three strokes) by our French teacher, and then for disobeying the headmaster in a swimming lesson was hand spanked on the bare bottom. The head viewed disobedience very seriously and I’m sure if I’d disobeyed him anywhere other than the school pool, then I’d have been caned, but being just in swimming trunks it was easy for him to make me lower my trunks and deliver several heavy blows to my bum.
Thus I reached the end of my second year and also past the age of 13 without ever feeling the cane.
Now previously I would have been proud of that record, but during the summer holidays of 1969 I started to feel more ashamed than proud. I believe there were two reasons for this.
Firstly Jim, who’d been in my class at primary school and who was my best friend at the time, lived a few doors away and attended the local secondary school. He was caned five times in the first two years, ribbing me of my virgin status. Likewise several boys with whom I attended scouts and who attended three different secondary schools, one the same school as Jim, had also all felt the cane many times, and also rubbed it in that I was a “goodie goodie”. I started to feel almost as if I was missing out on a great experience. This shift in attitude also coincided with the hormonal changes a thirteen year old boy experiences.
I don’t know if I’d have gone out of my way to misbehave sufficiently to earn a caning, and it must be borne in mind that those boys who were caned at our school were in a small minority, but the opportunity arrived in an unexpected manner.
Due to a lack of progress in mathematics the headmaster offered me extra tuition and, though I improved slightly, progress was minimal. After a few weeks of extra tuition the Head concluded, quite rightly, that I wasn’t making much effort. I now think that was subconscious on my part and he gave me a hand spanking. That spanking was intended as a wake- up call, one which I failed to heed. Thus a week later, on the last Friday in November 1969 when I attended the Head’s study as scheduled for the twice weekly review of my progress, which showed no improvement, the Head informed me and I still remember his words: “You need a proper spanking, and when I spank somebody properly I use a cane.”
My reaction rather than being one of fear or shame, as I would have felt until a month or two previously, was now rather different, and I vividly remember thinking to myself: ‘Yes! It’s actually going to happen at last.’ In short I felt almost excited at the prospect, so much so that when I was asked if I thought that I should take my trousers down for punishment I agreed unhesitatingly.
By my reckoning I was about to become only the 10th boy in my year to be caned and the first to have it with trousers down. I’ve previously related the actual punishment so rather than dwelling on that again I want to focus more on the feelings which I experienced as I waited for my first ever taste of the cane, for I personally found it an intoxicating mix of excitement and fear and it’s that strange emotional concoction that I try to convey in my stories, most of which feature “virgin canees”.
I removed my blazer, hung it on the visitor’s chair and then as instructed made my way to the end of the room to finish my preparations. As I took the few steps I still vividly remember thinking: ‘I’m keeping my pants up as they may offer some protection’. I do now wonder why he chose to make me lower my trousers. I deserved a caning without doubt, but I’d hardly committed a major or repeat offence. Anyway, be that as it may, the fact was that I was going to be caned without my trousers and it only added to my strange sense of excitement, although that too had a degree of embarrassment as my white Y-fronts were unusually for me unclean and that would have been visible as I waited, bent over, with my trousers bunched around my ankles.
Meanwhile the Head was taking some time in selecting his cane; I think this was a move to prolong the wait. Although he’d instructed me not to look back I could not resist watching through my parted legs, and the picture of him kneeling beside a low corner cupboard rummaging through a large number of canes, which rattled as he moved them, is still clear in my memory today. Finally the choice was made and he stood, closed the cupboard and took those few steps towards me. Any moment now I would lose my virginity and now I was rather nervous.
To further add to my discomfort I was instructed to lift my shirt clear of my bottom. I obeyed, though now the excitement of a few minutes ago had given way to nerves. I pledged to myself that I’d be brave and waited tense and shaking for my first ever taste of the cane.
There seemed to be an age between the swishing sound of the cane’s descent and the landing of the first stroke. My first reaction was that it was none too painful but then the pain kicked in, and kept intensifying. Strokes two and three followed each at about a twenty second gap, and I think I almost blanked out in my mind what was happening, and this combined with clenched teeth and closed eyes helped me take the punishment without a single yell, groan or tear although it was very painful.
What was worse was the post caning lecture where I had to stand to attention. My bottom was stinging more and more by the second and eventually I gave way, rubbed myself and earnt an extra stroke.
Finally, once dismissed, I dashed up the stairs as if that would alleviate the pain, which continued to sting and burn for about an hour before giving way to a throbbing.
Two or so hours later the pain had subsided but the red wheals on my bottom were vivid and I showed them to select classmates.
I felt proud rather than ashamed, as if I was finally a real schoolboy. And, as I say, I remember it vividly 45 years on and the experience is reflected in my stories.