Before I reached puberty, I was convinced I had such a thing as a ‘spankable’ bottom. Even for those times, I seemed to get spanked more often and more severely than my contemporaries. I wasn’t a plump boy, but my bottom was rounded and ‘shapely’ like a girl’s. I was always being mistaken for a girl because, to my boyish shame, I was also in possession of thick golden curls which my mother refused to allow me to cut.

One of my first memories is of my first day at my new school, aged five, being carried into class and spanked for ‘making a fuss’. In fact, my family had just moved into the area and I had been unsure of the location of my new classroom. I wasn’t trying to ‘stay with Mum’, I was lost. Once the spanking had succeeded in causing me to make a proper fuss, I was cuddled and soothed with the epithet ‘good girl’, which characterised the sweet and sour, hot and cold relationship I enjoyed with most of my primary school teachers.

It was usually me who would be kept in at playtimes or after class and I honestly never knew beforehand if it was for praise or punishment, to help teacher with her preparations or to be dragged summarily over her knee. Like any kid, I joined a gang who invariably got into mischief. My glowing locks and ample rump made me any punitive adult’s first choice for target practice. Boys would run (or ‘scarper’) in every direction to escape and the teacher would chase me. If more than one of us were secured for spanking, it would be me who had his bottom bared. I knew boys who never had their shorts and pants pulled down, but I was bared before punishment so much in primary school it was almost a waste of time and energy my wearing shorts at all!  Some wag once told me, my best mate P most likely, that I should wear a skirt. Whether that would have helped or hindered me I wasn’t quite sure.

When we were about eight, we’d been summoned by the form mistress of a younger boy we’d bullied and we dutifully lined up to be given the slipper. My friend P went first and got four whacks on the seat of his shorts, then a girl in our gang had her skirt lifted for two whacks on the seat of her navy blue knickers, which you didn’t see happen often but signified how angry the teacher must have been. Another lad got four on his shorts and then it was my turn. None of my friends were surprised when my shorts and pants were tugged down and I was walloped for longer than they had been.

It was the same at the swimming baths when, having broken some minor safety rules, my friends and I were pursued hotly by a teenaged life guard, who inevitably caught me, bared my bottom and proceeded to noisily spank me poolside, much to the amusement of a group of teenage girls whom he  undoubtedly intended to impress.

On one of the last memorable occasions at primary school, a mixed group of us were caught in various states of undress, playing ‘strip poker’ in the Wendy House. I was completely clothed apart from my missing shorts, which in fact displayed no more of my legs or pants than the girls exhibited in the short tunic dresses they wore in those days. Yet the sight so outraged the teacher who found us, that he proceeded to expose far more of my flesh than I would ever have done in the game, in order to beat me with his belt.

Although that was my first taste of the belt, I had an uncle who favoured it in his dealings with me. When my parents informed my little sisters and I of the monthly visit to my Auntie Jane and Uncle Bill’s council house, an hour and a half’s drive away, I would always lamely protest or feign illness. Although I loved Auntie Jane, who supplied the best buttered tea cakes in the country, and my older cousins Sally and Polly who liked to make a fuss of me.

I lived in mortal fear of Uncle Bill’s belt. Most visits culminated in his taking me to the bottom of his garden for a leathering, on one pretext or another. My plaintive howls of pain and cries of contrition could be heard across the estate and a small approving group of neighbours would gather to watch, the women fondly admonishing me for my childish indiscretions, clucking like contended hens and the men puffing cigarettes or pipes, the peasant patriarchy. The sight of a twelve or thirteen year old being soundly thrashed was not only common then, but provided legitimate entertainment for those who cared to observe. In hindsight, it strikes me as a ‘bloodthirsty’ spectator sport, but dog fighting was worse and capital punishment had only recently been abolished.  What may have added interest for Uncle Bill’s neighbours was my ambiguous sexual identity. At first glance it may have appeared to be one of his daughters Bill was thrashing.