A First Caning

I was nine years old when I received my first school caning in 1961. I had received the ruler and slipper a couple of times but never the cane.

In my primary school naughty or disruptive pupils were sent to stand in the corner of the classroom or outside the door until the end of the lesson. Normally the class teacher would then punish you at the end of the lesson, sometimes a lecture, sometimes the ruler and occasionally the slipper.

However the deputy headmistress Miss Hawkins used to walk around the school a couple of times a day and if she spotted you stood in the corner or outside she would deal with you. On the day in question I was warned for chatting and then got caught looking out of the window. I was sent outside of the classroom.

I had been there for about ten minutes when I heard a familiar clipping of high heeled shoes coming along the corridor. I knew I was in trouble and shortly my worst fears were confirmed. Miss Hawkins came into view and she smiled when she saw me outside the door.

Miss Hawkins was a tall elegant lady in her 40’s, well dressed in a formal suit, long blond hair, dark rimmed spectacles and wearing high heeled shoes. This was common dress for lady teachers in the 1960’s. She immediately asked me what I had done. I told her. She told me to go and wait outside her office. She went in and I saw her speak to my teacher as I walked along the corridor.

I reached Miss Hawkins’s office and found two other pupils already waiting there. I recognised one as a girl called Celia who lived opposite me and was in year 3. We got chatting but were rudely interrupted by Miss Hawkins arriving. Miss Hawkins entered her office. It had glass walls and was located in the school foyer. The school secretary was in the office opposite and could see into Miss Hawkins office.

I saw Miss Hawkins sit down and start writing in a book. After a short while she went to a cupboard and I saw her remove two crook handled canes. One was about 30 inches long and very thin; the second was about 36 inches long and thicker. It was at this point that I started to feel butterflies in my stomach and my heart started racing, my knees were shaking.

Miss Hawkins called the first boy in. I heard him get a lecture and I watched as he got three strokes on each hand with the thicker cane. He was in tears and screaming at the end. I was now absolutely terrified at watching him get caned. He was in year 4 and two years older than me and Miss Hawkins had really hurt him.

He came out and Miss Hawkins summoned Celia in. I heard Miss Hawkins lecture her. Then she held out her hand and to my relief she was being caned with the shorter thinner cane. I watched as she received three strokes on one hand. She was crying and screeched as the cane hit her hand. Then Miss Hawkins put the cane down and Celia came out.

Finally it was my turn. I was called in. Miss Hawkins lectured me for a short while before asking me which hand I used for writing. I told her and was told to hold out my other hand. Slowly I held it out. I was truly frightened now. I was slightly relieved when Miss Hawkins picked up the shorter cane. She told me that I was to receive three strokes on this occasion but any future visits would result in six strokes with the longer cane.

I closed my eyes when Miss Hawkins put the cane on my hand. I felt it tap and then heard the swish as it came down. I yelped as it hit and started shaking my hand. The pain was unbelievable. It was much worse than the ruler I had previously received. Miss Hawkins told me to put my hand back out. I slowly held it out and closed my eyes again. I tensed as the cane touched my hand before I heard it swish again and felt the second stroke hit my hand I screeched and tears rolled down my face. I managed to keep my hand there and closed my eyes as Miss Hawkins lifted the cane back for the third stroke. The swish was quick and the cane bit hard into my hand. I screeched and shook my hand.

Miss Hawkins then turned and put the cane down. She reminded me that future visits would result in double. I was dismissed as the break bell rang. I would like to say that this was my only visit but sadly I got caned by Miss Hawkins again in my last year. True to her word I got the full six with the longer cane. I was glad to have only received her cane twice and left at the end of that year.

PL