The slipper at home:
I grew up in the north of England in the 60s, early 70s. Unlike today, when corporal punishment is often regarded as inappropriate punishment for children, in my youth it was very much the norm at school, and often at home.
In my case at primary school, the slipper was in use. At secondary school, it was the slipper again, and for serious offences, a trip to the Deputy Head to bend over for the cane. I escaped the slipper at primary school, but got it three or four times at secondary. I also got the cane once, which is another memory to recount some time.
After the last slippering at school (it was at the middle of my fourth year) my mother found out. I got no sympathy, and in fact it spurred a major domestic debate about what to do about my behaviour which was getting fairly bad both at home and at school. My parents had never punished me physically at home, but the newly acquired knowledge of my school experiences, which they seemed largely unaware of, together with some conversations between my mother and some of her local friends, suggested that it might well be time. To cut a long story short, my parents decided to introduce the slipper at home to match the punishment used at school. They bought a pair of white plimsolls, size 10, for the specific purpose. They were hefty, with quite a thick rubber sole. The right hand one, minus laces, lived on a shelf in my wardrobe as a constant warning.
I got that slipper only twice at home. I should have had it a lot more, but basically lied several times to get out of it, or was just lucky to get away with things. I still feel very guilty about that. I hated it, the embarrassment and the shame, and it really hurt, so I did everything I could to avoid it.
The first time, when I was 14, was for completely losing my temper with my mother; typical shouting and swearing, teenager-fashion.
The second time was much later. I was still 17, just before I was 18. I still get vivid dreams about it, and I think I can recall every detail. This account will be about that time.
It started several months before when my parents and I were having a meal with some friends of theirs, including a woman who was one of the main instigators of the slipper arriving in our house since it was used it on her two boys, and she had recommended it to my mother. The conversation at the meal was particularly dominated by my mother saying how much worry I was causing her by returning late from visiting my girlfriend, and how I wasn’t taking any notice of her. I had passed my driving test soon after I was 17, and got an old Mini, which I used to drive over to my girlfriend’s house and then we would go out and sit in the back of it, late into the evening.
My mother’s friend appeared to be changing the subject, because she suddenly asked what had happened to a boy in the Upper Sixth, my year, who was known to have got into a lot of trouble selling cigarettes, I think. I knew that he had been sent to the Deputy Head, so I had to say so, and what that had meant, which was that he had been caned. I didn’t know where she was going; I thought maybe she had found out (from her son?) that I had been sent myself one time. I had never told my parents; it would have meant punishment at home as well. But she then asked whether that was unusual.
I didn’t know what to say, so I told the truth that I knew of at least one other boy who had been caned. I had been waiting to see the Deputy Head on some School Council matter, and I had heard it and seen the boy in my year come out. Then I wondered if she was going to suggest my mother got a cane.
But her point, as she then explained, was simply that the School therefore didn’t consider someone my age too old for corporal punishment. A sore bottom would still be very appropriate. Her directness was very embarrassing, at the dinner table! She said that dealing with the lateness was easy. If they still had the slipper (it was of course still on the shelf in my wardrobe) they should simply draw a line, it was 11 0’clock. Beforehand fine, after that, a spanking. The slipper for every minute I was late. And she turned to me; did I agree that was fair?
I had to agree, so I was committed in front of them all.
That worked for a long time. Right through the autumn. Slipper mentioned occasionally, but I made sure I was back. Once I was 5 minutes late, but they let me off with a warning.
But then, finally, it was between Christmas and New Year, I completely lost track of time. We had been out in the country, in a layby. It was icy and cold, and so I couldn’t rush back, and that made the worry at home even worse. So in the end I was 20 minutes late (22 to be precise, as was pointed out). I tried to creep upstairs but my father was in the living room, and called me in. The slipper was on the coffee table. An arm chair, I still remember it was green, had been pulled out from the wall and pushed up against the sofa.
I was in big trouble. I tried to argue my way out of it. The best I could come up with was that I couldn’t get the car to start which was of course a lie. I didn’t think I could get away with that excuse to account for all the time late, so I said it had taken about 10 minutes. I don’t know why that was accepted, but it was (then anyway) but that left me a full dozen minutes late. Which was what I had to be punished for.
I couldn’t complain. I had accepted the principle of how I would be punished if I was late. I was really angry, but just with myself. Mainly I was just very ashamed that I deserved what I was going to get.
So I had to take off my shoes and socks, so that I could remove my trousers and underpants, and then bend over the back of the arm chair. I kept my shirt and sweater on. The principle, established the first time I was spanked, was that there would be no clothes in the way of the slipper. It was so embarrassing, the undressing. Then I was right over, hands on the seat of the chair.
It was much worse than the first time, which I had thought was terrible. I only got 8 or 9 the first time. So there were more, and much harder, whacks from the slipper. I was much more embarrassed, being older, and not least because I didn’t receive it quietly. I was crying and shouting out because it rapidly became extremely painful. If I hadn’t been so far over the back of the chair it would have been very hard to stay bending over. It took a long while to give me a dozen with the slipper, and I was given plenty of time to feel each one. He just kept to the lower part of my bottom, alternating between left, right and middle. But I was aware throughout that I should have had twice as much for the real length of time I was late.
When I was finally told to stand up, I admit I was in tears. I had to carry my things upstairs and was, like the first time (on my mother’s friend’s advice) made to go and stand in the corner in my bedroom, hands on head. The intention was that I reflect for a while about what had happened, and how I had got what I deserved. In the mirror on the wardrobe at the side of me, the distinct oval covering the lower part of my bottom, the area where I had been spanked, was even darker than I remembered the first time I was slippered, like a dark cherry red.
While I was facing the wall with my hands on my head, my mother came in like she had the first time when I had lost my temper, to convince herself that I had been properly punished. I was hard up against the wall, and thus not exposed at the front, but it was bad enough her seeing my bottom at 17.
She said that she didn’t believe the ‘car not starting’ story at all. I had to lie to her again. So she said I could think about it over night, but in the morning she was going to ring my girlfriend to check. If I admitted it in the morning, it would mean the slipper there and then for the missing time. But if she found out I had lied from my girlfriend, it would be a lot worse for me.
I was then sent straight to bed. The first time I had been slippered, when I was 14, I had eased the pain by making full use of lots of cold water in the bathroom, with a face flannel, before I got into bed, and I took the flannel to bed with me. But my parents hadn’t approved when they had discovered I had used it; it wasn’t “consistent”. I was explicitly not allowed the use it the second time. My bottom was supposed to hurt; that was the whole point of the spanking. As they put it, they were having to communicate with me through my bottom because my head wasn’t listening. I shouldn’t be able to make the punishment hurt less.
I spent most of the night awake. First, my bottom was terribly sore, burning and stinging. I lay on my front with the bedclothes not covering my bottom. But, secondly, my mind was on whether I should own up in the morning. I eventually convinced myself that it would be the only thing to do.
But in the morning, when I got up, my bottom in the mirror looked just as bad as the night before, and it was still extremely sore. It was just simple cowardice. I knew I deserved it, but I just couldn’t face bending over again. So I continued with the lie.
My mother did phone, but everyone there had gone out to Church. I can’t imagine how bad the spanking would have been if she had found I had lied. Later on, my parents went out and I was left behind in disgrace. I rang my girlfriend, she was back, and I got her to agree to lie for me. I then went and sat in a cold bath. I got away without another spanking, but a lot of guilt remained (and still does, actually).
Did my punishment work? Could my parents have used some other method, as would have happened nowadays? I think the point is that I knew exactly what I was in for. I had agreed to the consequences, so it was effectively my choice.
But perhaps as important, I was never late home again, that’s for sure. And I remained desperate to avoid feeling that slipper across my bottom again, so it had its effect on everything I did thereafter.