My name is Lorna and I went to school in Edinburgh in the 1950s and 1960s. This was the era of the Lochgelly Tawse but luckily I managed to avoid it until my final year at senior school at age 16.
My first meeting with the Tawse (or strap as we called it) was in a History lesson with Mrs Macdonald as the teacher. She had been at the school for many years and I knew many boys who had felt her strap. She rarely used it on the girls, thankfully.
The lesson was going well and I frequently chatted to my friend sitting next to me. Mrs Macdonald noticed and told us to stop so we immediately stopped. I slipped a sweet in my mouth shortly after because I was getting hungry.
It was at this time that Mrs Macdonald asked me a question. I was not able to speak clearly because of the sweet and Mrs Macdonald asked me if I was eating in her lesson. I admitted it and was told to throw the sweet away.
The lesson continued and we were told to copy some writing from the board. I dropped my pen and said: “Damn,” as I bent to pick it up.
Mrs Macdonald had heard me though and shouted out: “Lorna Mackenzie, stand up.”
She demanded to know why I had used the word. I apologised immediately but could not offer a good reason. Mrs Macdonald told me to go and stand outside the door and she would deal with me shortly. I walked out slowly because I knew that this would mean the strap.
I was only outside a short while before she emerged carrying her two tailed strap. My heart sank at this sight. Mrs Macdonald asked me if I had been strapped before. I replied that I had not.
She then instructed me to remove my blazer and roll up my sleeves. I did as requested. She then told me to hold out my hands, one on top of the other. She also told me to change hands after each stroke. I watched in fear as she stood in front of me and laid the strap lengthwise along my hand.
She announced that I was to get 4 strokes. This was for persistent chatting, eating in lesson and swearing.
I watched as the strap left and went over her shoulder. I did not have long to wait. The strap cracked down on my left hand. The pain followed shortly and it was unbelievable, it was like nothing I had felt before. I yelped in pain.
Mrs Macdonald had to remind me to change hands. The strap was then laid on my right hand. I was mesmerised as it went up over her shoulder again. Shortly after my right hand felt the same pain and tears rolled down my face.
I remembered to change hands this time and offered my hot left hand to her again. She laid the strap on my hand before lifting it over her shoulder. I remember the fear as I watched it come cracking down. I yelped again and was now very red faced.
I slowly changed hands for my last stroke. Mrs Macdonald touched the strap on my hand and shortly after lifted it over her shoulder. It soon cracked down on my right hand. Another cry of pain followed.
Mrs Macdonald then told me to roll down my sleeves and put my blazer back on. I was then told to follow her back into the class. I walked in with a bright red face, partly from the tears and partly from embarrassment. I was told to sit down.
I rubbed my hands through the remainder of the lesson and rushed to the toilets at the end. Cold water had never felt so good. In break time I was consoled by my friends and teased by some of the boys.
I only got the strap once more near the end of the last term. I suppose I was lucky because several of my friends got the strap more than twice but it did not feel like that at the time.