I moved to Primary School in 1959 at the age of seven. I was there for four years and managed to only get two corporal punishments in that time. The accounts below are as I remember it though the names are changed. The first was in my second year there at the age of nine. I was chatting a lot as usual and got warned. Later in the lesson, Miss Walker had to warn me again for the same thing. I did not learn though and carried on chatting, so Miss Walker told me to stand outside the classroom.
At the end of the lesson, Miss Walker invited me in and told me to follow her. We walked along the corridor to the Deputy Headmistress’s office and Miss Walker knocked. She went in, leaving me outside. After a few minutes I was called in. The Deputy Headmistress, Mrs Carter, was sat behind her desk.
She asked me why I kept chatting and I could offer no answer. Mrs Carter stood up and told me I was to be caned for disrupting lessons. She told me that she had received reports from other teachers as well, and it was time I learnt a lesson. Mrs Carter was a tall lady, well built and always dressed in a brown suit and brown high heeled shoes. She was in her fifties and always had her hair in a bun.
I watched in terror as she took a short, straight, whippy cane from her cupboard and then she walked towards me. Mrs Carter told me to hold out my hand, which I did slowly. I could not watch as she tapped my hand with the cane before bringing it down hard on my hand. I managed to avoid crying out but shook my hand as the pain bit.
Mrs Carter told me to hold out my other hand. I held it out and the cane swished down again. I had closed my eyes again but heard the swish before the cane hit. The pain was unbearable and I held both hands under my armpits to try and relieve the pain. All to no avail, and I felt tears coming.
Mrs Carter walked away, to my relief, and sat down. She started writing in the punishment book and then told me to apologise to Miss Walker. I had forgotten she was still there and turned to say sorry for my behaviour. She was smiling at me when I apologised. Mrs Carter dismissed me with a warning that it would be more strokes next time.
Luckily, she left at the end of the year so never got to carry out her threat. My second punishment was in the fourth year there. I was eleven at the time. I was in break time and in the playground. We were playing a game which involved throwing a tennis ball at other boys. If it hit them they then had to try and hit another boy. I was trying to throw the ball at my mate, but he ducked.
Unfortunately, one of the teachers, Miss King, was bent down behind him and it hit her smack on the bottom. She jumped up and demanded to know who threw it. I owned up and apologised. I explained I was playing a game and it was aimed at my mate. She obviously did not believe me and marched me to the deputy Headmistress. When we arrived, Miss King entered, leaving a terrified me outside. I was then summoned in.
The deputy Headmistress, Mrs Cameron, was sat behind her desk. She had replaced Mrs Carter. Mrs Cameron was Scottish, in her thirties, long blond hair, medium height, slim and wearing a black tight formal dress with black high heeled shoes. She was furious and ranted at me for several minutes before taking a leather tawse from her desk drawer. I had never seen one before, but my gut feeling was it was going to hurt a lot.
She said she would not tolerate a pupil throwing a ball at a teacher, but especially at her bottom. I tried to explain, but her mind was made up. She walked towards me and I was shaking. She told me to hold out my hands, one on top of the other. She then stood in front of me and I watched as she lifted the strap over her shoulder. I was shocked at how hard she brought it down on my hand. My gut feeling was right, it hurt like hell.
I was ordered to change hands and watched as it cracked down on my second hand. Change hands, I was told, and did so. For the third time I watched it crack on my hand. She repeated the change hands, and I did so. I watched as it hit my hand again. I wondered when she was going to stop. But she continued with the change hands and for a fifth time it cracked down. Change hands was ordered and slowly I did so. For the sixth time, the tawse went over her shoulder before coming down on my red hot hand.
To my relief, Mrs Cameron walked away and put the tawse in her desk drawer. She started writing in the punishment book. I was in tears by now and my fingers felt like a couple of pounds of hot sausages. Boy, did they hurt. Mrs Cameron told me that I had to apologise to Miss King in front of the whole school at assembly the next morning.
As requested, my humiliation was complete the next day when Mrs Cameron told the whole school about my strapping and invited me onto the stage to apologise. I did feel aggrieved about this strapping because I did not deliberately hit Miss King. I do not think I could have hit her if I had tried to deliberately. I accept I was wrong as the ball did hit her but it was the number of whacks that I felt were wrong. I wondered what I would have got from Mrs Carter in the same circumstances.
This was my only acquaintance with Mrs Cameron and the strap, thankfully. I left at the end of that academic year and, despite my behaviour, I passed the eleven plus and went to grammar school. Sadly, this was not my last punishment as grammar school was even more strict. Happy days!