The first time I got the cane at school was when I was in the second year. I had already had the slipper a few times by then, both at grammar school and, earlier on, at junior school. We had a school trip to a museum and the master in charge did not keep order very well. A lot of us started to mess around and make quite a bit of noise but, unfortunately, it was just me and one other boy who were caught by a museum attendant and marched back to the master. He told us that he would be reporting us to the headmaster. That made the rest of the boys quieten down.

The next morning, at the end of assembly, our names were both read out and we were told to report to the headmaster after assembly. I had been expecting it, but I still felt sick when I heard that because I knew that it almost certainly meant we would be getting the cane.

We had to report to the secretary, who was expecting us, and then had to stand facing the wall next to the door to the headmaster’s office. I was scared. I knew that the cane was supposed to hurt a lot more than the slipper and I was worried that I might not be able to stay in place. I remember my legs trembling as I stood waiting.

We could hear all the other boys coming out of assembly and going to their first lessons. I knew that some of them would be looking down the headmaster’s corridor, looking at us and wondering what we’d done and how many strokes we’d be getting, because I had done the same thing.

Finally, the headmaster came past and went into his office, ignoring us. He kept us waiting there for a few minutes, but it seemed much longer at the time. Then the secretary’s phone rang and she told us both to go in.

We stood in front of his desk as he gave us a stern lecture. The main thing was that we had, according to hm, damaged the school’s reputation by behaving so badly when in school uniform. This was a very serious matter, he said, and he had no alternative except to cane both of us.

Then, to my shock and surprise, he told Ian to go and stand by the wall and turned to me. He told me to take my jacket off and hang it on the door and then to take a wooden chair from a corner of the room and place it in front of his desk. I had expected that we would both get the cane, but I had all along thought that Ian who, unlike me had been caned before, would be getting it first. Completely illogical, I realise now.

Anyway, I had to do as I was told. While I was moving the chair I could hear the headmaster selecting a cane from a long drawer behind his desk. He made me place the chair in front of the desk with its back towards the desk and then told me to step back and bend right down with my hands on the seat of the chair. I could feel my trousers tauten. I gripped the edges of the chair seat. He didn’t say how many strokes it would be.

Then I felt the cane tapping across my bottom a few times and tried to prepare myself. Then the first stroke came. I felt the impact as its sheer force rocked me forward across the chair, followed by a sudden intense sting all the way across my bottom. It was a different pain from the slipper and a lot worse.

Later that day, a friend asked me what the pain was like. Describing pain is always difficult and what I told him was that it was like being kicked on the shin when you weren’t wearing shinpads. That gave, I think, some idea of the type of pain and its intensity. But what made It worse, of course, was that you knew there were more ‘kicks’ to come. It’s not a prefect comparison but it’s still now the best that I can come up with.

I gasped in pain and wriggled, but I managed to stay in position and I tightened my grip of the edges of the chair seat. There were no preliminary taps before the second stroke and it took me by surprise. My head shot up and I yelled aloud. I realised that I had started to cry.

The headmaster ordered me to stand still, and I did my best but it hurt too much for me to be able to stop wriggling. He kept me waiting for a bit longer that time and tapped the cane across my sore backside a couple of times before lashing down the hardest stroke yet, which made me yell again, though I stayed bent over. Tears were flowing freely by then.

I didn’t know that was the last stroke and, indeed, he tapped his cane across the seat of my trousers a couple more times before he told me I could stand up.

Then he told me to put my jacket back on and go and stand where Ian had been, while Ian took off his own jacket and then bent over the chair in his turn. I rubbed my bottom cautiously and watched his caning through teary eyes.

He took it better than I had and didn’t cry, but he was also unable to take it in silence, and he gasped loudly at the second and third strokes.

After his caning, Ian had to put his jacket back on and return the chair to its place. Then the headmaster made us both stand in front of his desk for a final telling off. I was unable to pay much attention as the smarting in my bottom seemed to be getting even worse.

Then the headmaster got the school punishment book out and entered the details. After that, he let us go and told us to go straight back to class. Despite this, we stopped off at the toilets on our way. We compared marks. Both sets of marks were about the same. I washed my face as I had stopped crying by then. Ian showed me how to hover over the toilet with its seat raised and pull the chain, so that a spray of cold water went onto your sore bottom. It didn’t really make any difference, but at least it was something you could do. Then we made our way to our first lesson, having missed about half.

Everyone knew why we were late, of course, and the teacher made some joke that I can’t remember. I sat down carefully and almost gasped again as my bottom made contact with the hard wooden bench. The worst of the stinging pain gradually faded over that and the next lesson, but my bottom was still hurting at going home time.

SHo