I went to an all boys direct grant grammar school in the 1960s. The school had a junior department, so I started there at the age of eight. This was the era of corporal punishment in schools and at my school all teachers were allowed to use the slipper and the headmaster could cane.
My parents had occasionally given my brother and me a smack, but I had never experienced any formal kind of corporal punishment. This was to change a few weeks into my first term. My science teacher that year was Mr K and we were waiting for him in our classroom. When he arrived, he demanded to know who was making all the noise. Nobody owned up so he asked again, and once again nobody replied. So he said that if nobody owned up he would slipper the whole class. Still silence. He then took a large plimsoll out of his brief case and called us up five at a time. For most of us, this was to be our first taste of the slipper. As I watched the first group get the slipper I was both curious and fearful. A few boys cried when they got whacked and soon it was my turn. I was told to bend over and felt a hard pain to my bum. It hurt, but I didn’t cry and I went back to my desk rubbing my bum.
That year I was to be slippered three more times, each time one whack. Two were from the PE teacher, Mr Sutton, who slippered the entire class. We formed a long row and he went along it giving each of us one hard whack.
My final taste of the slipper that year was when I didn’t hand in my homework to Mrs Harris and she sent me to my house tutor, Mr Lawrence, and told me he would slipper me. I tried to explain that it was my birthday and I had been taken out by my parents. She wasn’t prepared to listen. Fortunately, he was more sympathetic and gave me a very light tap.
In my second year I was slippered once more, and again it was from Mr Lawrence. He caught four of us misbehaving in the classroom when we should have been in the playground. He told us to go and wait for him in the gym whilst he fetched his slipper. He quickly arrived and told the four of us to bend over. Then he went along the line giving us two hard whacks. This really hurt and for the first time I had tears in my eyes.
My final slippering was also the worst. This occurred in my final term. Our maths teacher that year was the deputy head, Mr Swift. I hadn’t being paying attention and I had already been warned. When he asked me a second question and I still didn’t know the answer he got cross and told me that he had something in his study that would help me concentrate and that I should come with him at the end of the lesson.
Mr Swift had a reputation for being the hardest whacker in the school and for the last ten minutes of the lesson all I could think about was what was going to happen.
All too soon, the lesson came to an end and I had to accompany him up a narrow flight of stairs to his study. In the past I had seen boys on that staircase sobbing and I knew that very soon that would be my fate.
When we got there, he told me that I had a very poor attitude and that he thought three with his slipper would help improve my attitude. He then took out an old slipper from his desk and told me to bend over his desk. I was on the verge of tears and knew that my short grey trousers and pants would provide little protection. As I bent over I felt my shorts tighten over my bum. The first whack was the hardest I had ever had, and I began to cry. The second was even worse and tears were pouring down my face. I screamed out loud at the third one and was still sobbing when I was told to leave his study.
I stood on the stairs for a few moments rubbing my bum, still crying. After a few minutes I composed myself and walked slowly back to class. It hurt for the rest of the day. When I got back to class, all knew what had happened, but they were generally sympathetic. After all it had happened to most of them!