In my previous posting I wrote about the number of times that I was slippered in my junior school. In this post, I recount my experiences in the senior department of the all boys direct grant grammar school that I attended in the 1960s.
One of the differences was that all teachers could cane as well as slipper. We had thought this would lead to more corporal punishment, but in fact it didn’t. Most teachers didn’t use the slipper and the cane was reserved for serious offences.
One of the exceptions was Mr Brady, who had the nickname of Basher. In my first two years he slippered me three times. It was always the same; two whacks for minor misdemeanours and always in front of the class. It hurt a bit, but by the end of the lesson the sting had gone.
They were the only slipperings I received. I also managed to avoid the prefects’ court. If a prefect caught you misbehaving you could be summoned to the court where the prefects would decide how many whacks with the slipper you would get. One of the prefects would then carry out the slippering as the others watched. This rather archaic practice had been abolished by the time that I became a prefect.
I began to think that i might avoid the cane, but towards the end of my fifth year, when I was fourteen, my luck ran out.
We were doing mock ‘O’ Levels at the time and at the end of the exam a number of us helped ourselves to any spare paper that was left. I usually took it home, but on that fateful day I forgot.
The following morning, the teacher that was taking registration told us they had become concerned at the amount of paper that was going missing, that a substantial amount had been found in my desk, and that I was to report to my housemaster, Mr Mason, in the small staff room at the beginning of lunch time.
The small staff room was no more than an office adjacent to the main staff room, but it was also the room that was used for canings, so everyone knew what was going to happen.
Like Mr Swift in the junior school, a number of the teachers had a reputation for being hard caners, but none of my friends had ever had the cane from Mr Mason. He was quite a big man, probably in his late 40s, so I assumed he would cane hard.
Fortunately, that morning we didn’t have a mock exam, so I spent most of the morning thinking of what was to come. My emotions were very mixed. I had long thought about what it was like to be caned, but as all canings at the school were in private I had never witnessed one. In fact, I had never even seen a real cane. I also knew that it was going to hurt a lot more than the slipper.
Lunchtime came and I made my way to the small staff room and knocked on the door. Mr Mason was already there and he told me to come in. One of the first things I saw was three canes hanging on the wall. They were all about the same length, with a crook handle. The thickness of the canes appeared to be different.
In no uncertain terms, Mr Mason told me that this was stealing, that I had let the house down and that the punishment for theft was four strokes of the cane. I was feeling very scared at this point as four was more than I had ever had with the slipper.
He selected the middle cane from the wall, told me to take my blazer off and to bend over the back of the chair that had been placed in the middle of the room. As I bent over, I heard him stand behind me and then heard the swish of the cane as it landed on my bum. I gasped with the pain; I had never known anything like it.
The second stroke seemed even harder, and tears were welling up. The third was a bit lower and I was crying freely now. The final stroke seemed to cross the others and I screamed out. The caning was now over, but I was still crying and still bent over the chair. After a few moments, Mr Mason told me to get up, put my blazer on and to get out.
I limped out of the room still crying. Fortunately, the entrance to the small staff room was in a fairly secluded part of the school and nobody saw me in this state. I went straight to the nearby toilets and went into one of the cubicles. I pulled down my trousers and pants to look at the damage. I could see four distinct weals across my bum.
I was in a lot of pain for the rest of the day. The stripes lasted for about a week. I was fascinated by them and kept looking at them and touching them.
Whilst I can’t say that I enjoyed getting the slipper and the cane, it has left me with an interest in school punishments that is just as strong today.