Several of the girls on the estate where I lived were keen on playing football. Our parents all thought we should play it in the park at the end of the street but whenever we did, boys would come and join in uninvited and spoil the game by keeping the ball away from us, so we preferred to gather in someone’s garden.

As you can imagine, the location had to change every time we got banned from a garden, such as at our house when Mum saw the ball hit the kitchen window. Luckily, it didn’t break or I would have certainly had another spanking to tell you about!

On this particular day we were at the home of a girl called Flipper (she was really called Philippa) who’s parents didn’t mind us playing there. The good thing about her garden was that the neighbours on both sides were nice, and so were the people in the next street whose back garden was on the other side of the hedge from the end of Flipper’s.

This meant that if the ball was kicked over the hedge into any of the three adjoining properties there was no problem retrieving it. There was even a gap in the hedge at the back so that we could get it back without having to go round the block to the next street.

Unfortunately, the nice people in that house lived next door to Mr Brown. Mr Brown was a really grumpy old man who hated children and was always complaining, and no one on the estate liked him.

So it was with some dismay that I saw the ball I had just kicked go over the fence in the corner and land in his garden. We knew that if we went round and asked for it back, he would refuse. In fact, we knew about an occasion when someone else had kicked a ball into his garden and he had punctured it with a garden fork. The only way we could get it back was by sneaking into his garden.

Flipper and I went through the hedge into his neighbour’s garden. Typically for such a bad tempered old man, he had a very high fence around his property so we couldn’t see over it to see where the ball had landed, or even whether he was out there himself, although we guessed that if he had seen the ball he would have been shouting about it.

Flipper gave me a hand up so that I could see over the fence, and the coast was clear, so with her help I got over the high fence. I eventually spotted the ball nestled in one of his well-tended flower beds and ran to retrieve it. I ran back to the corner and threw the ball back into Flipper’s garden, then realised there was no way I could get back over the fence without assistance.

At the same moment I realised this, I heard a yell from behind me and turned to see he old man, red in the face, advancing towards me. I had to take evasive action, and the only way to do that was to avoid the lawn and run through more of his flower beds to escape at the front of his house.

I ran back to Flipper’s, where all the girls were in hysterics listening to the unseen pensioner ranting about what he thought about children in general and me in particular. It seemed that he had not seen me throw the ball back, though, and didn’t know where I had come from because he didn’t come round to Flipper’s house demanding justice.

We sensibly gave up the game at that point and went to the park to hang out on the swings, smoking fags and trying to look cool.

At teatime, I went home and Dad immediately informed me that he had had a visitor.

“You were in Mr Brown’s garden trampling over his flower beds.” He stated.

I admitted it, pointing out that it was the only way to get our ball back.

“You know what a miserable old sod he is.” I said, thinking that Dad would agree and we would just have a laugh about it.

“Yes, he is a miserable old sod, and that’s why I don’t want to have to spend my time listening to him rant about my naughty daughter. I don’t like the man, but he spends a lot of time on his garden and you have no right to go in there and destroy all his hard work.”

I turned away and looked out of the window.

“Sorry,” I muttered. I didn’t like being told off. I blamed the old man. I wouldn’t have needed to trample his flowers if he wasn’t such a grumpy so and so.

“Anyway, he reckoned you need a good hiding and I told him that’s just what you are going to get. Get up those stairs.”

I climbed the stairs, hearing the hall cupboard open and close as I went. Dad followed me into my bedroom and sat on the bed. He pulled down my shorts and pants and positioned me over his knee.

If Mr Brown was within hearing distance, and I imagine that he was, (If he thought I was going to get a whacking, he would not have wanted to miss it and was probably watching the house, waiting for me to come home), my dad made sure the old sod would be satisfied with my punishment.

He gave my bare bum thirty stinging whacks with the slipper and showed me no mercy, no matter how loudly I howled. When he left me, I examined my bum in the mirror and it was as vividly marked as any of my most severe spankings. As colourful a mix of red and purple as the flowers I had destroyed in Mr Brown’s garden.