I survived my first term at grammar school unscathed. But that did not stop me having close shaves. Two detentions in one term, another would have meant six of the best from the Headmaster. In the second term, however, I found out that six of the best on the bottom was easily earned. All teachers could administer up to six strokes of the cane, and most frequently did.

Despite the fact I was a cheeky lad, I survived the term, which was more than most did. The accounts below are as I remember it, though the names are changed. The descriptions of the teachers are accurate as I kept a diary and recorded the details.

I had a new teacher for maths that term, called Mrs Dobson. She was in her late 20s, petite, short black hair, glasses and wore loose-fitting dresses and low-heeled shoes. She did not fit into the standard teacher mould at this school. Also, she was not good at classroom discipline either.

On the day in question, I started chatting in class and got told off and given one hundred lines. Near the end of the lesson, Mrs Dobson told us to copy some work from the board.

I shouted out: “Why,” without thinking.

Mrs Dobson seemed surprised and told me to stand up. She told me it was because she said so and that I had to see her at the end of the lesson. At the end of the lesson I reported to Mrs Dobson. It was the end of the day and the rest of the class were eager to go home. Mrs Dobson told me that she should cane me for my outburst but did not like using the cane. I thought my luck was in and expected a detention. Instead she told me she was going to take me to the Headmaster.

My heart sank and I slowly followed her to his secretary. When we arrived, Mrs Dobson spoke to the secretary who said the Headmaster was out and that the deputy Headmaster was sick. I thought my luck might be in but the secretary told her that the Senior Mistress, Mrs Broadbent, was covering and we should report to her office. We soon arrived and Mrs Dobson knocked. We were ushered in and Mrs Dobson explained what had happened to Mrs Broadbent. Mrs Broadbent listened and then asked for my version. I said that Mrs Dobson had described it accurately and apologised in the hope of avoiding a caning.

Mrs Broadbent asked Mrs Dobson why she had not caned me. Mrs Dobson told her that she did not like using the cane. Mrs Broadbent then told her they would speak later after she had caned me. My heart sank and my knees felt weak. I felt butterflies in my stomach. Mrs Broadbent stood up and walked towards a cupboard. I noticed several crook handled canes hung inside and she selected a medium sized one. I was mesmerised as she walked back towards me. She was in her forties, short blond hair, tall, slim and wearing a blue polo necked top, tight blue skirt and blue high heeled shoes. She was truly frightening as she walked towards me flexing the cane.

I was ordered to remove my blazer and then to bend over a chair back and grasp the seat. I was tall for my age but struggled to do so. Mrs Broadbent suggested I bend over one end of the desk instead and held the sides of it. I bent over and felt vulnerable as my grey short trousers tightened. Soon Mrs Broadbent was at my side. I felt the cane touch and Mrs Broadbent warned me to stay in place or extra strokes would follow. She then announced that I was to receive six strokes. I had not expected that, I thought between two and four strokes especially as Mrs Broadbent thought Mrs Dobson should have dealt with me.

Before I realised it, the cane tapped and then left. Next thing, I heard a swish before it cracked on my bottom hard. Surprisingly, I did not feel any immediate pain but that soon changed as the pain burnt across the centre of my bottom. If you have never been caned before it is such a shock and so painful. The cane tapped again and the second stroke swished. It hit hard and true and the pain increased. I was determined not to cry if possible; after all, I was at senior school now.

The cane tapped for the third time before that familiar swish followed by a cracking sound. I groaned as the pain hit again. Mrs Broadbent hesitated before I felt the cane tapping. A swish followed by a crack made me groan louder as the pain increased. I was struggling now and Miss Broadbent seemed determined to teach me a harsh painful lesson as the cane swished again. It hit low and extra hard. I felt tears arriving but gripped the desk even tighter as the pain racked up. Mrs Broadbent continued and the sixth stroke swished before hitting diagonally across the first five strokes. She had won and I could not help myself. I yelped loudly and tears flooded out.

I was so relieved as she walked away. She told me to stand up and face her desk. I watched through tear-filled eyes as she put the cane away and sat down. I watched as she wrote my name in the punishment book with ‘six strokes of cane on bottom’ alongside. She wrote down ‘impertinence’ in the next column followed by Mrs Dobson’s name before signing it in the final column. She then completed my pupil log book which her secretary had brought in. I was then dismissed.

As I did so, I said: “Thank you, Miss,” to Mrs Broadbent and apologised to Mrs Dobson. Mrs Dobson reminded me that I still had one hundred lines to write which were to be handed in the next morning. I left the room and slowly went to compose and refresh myself before walking home. I was no longer a grammar school caning virgin.

Mum knew I had been caned as soon as I walked in. She demanded to know what I had done. She was furious and I was told to sit and do my homework and the lines. It was a painful time and as soon as I had completed tea I was sent to bed. I did finally get to check my bottom in the mirror and Mrs Broadbent had painted a perfect five bar gate on my bottom.

Mrs Dobson was clearly not a good fit for the school and left at the end of the year. But she started using the cane and made sure I got it. She seemed to blame me for her troubles at the school which was probably true. If I had not misbehaved she would not have had to admit her loathe of caning to Mrs Broadbent. I got three strokes from Mrs Dobson later that term and six strokes in the next term.

The first was for talking in class again. Mrs Dobson told me off and I continued. She finally told me to see her after school. At the end of the day, I reported to her. She was marking books. She told me she was fed up of my chatting and I was to be caned. I was surprised as she still was not using the cane much. She had changed her appearance slightly. She was in her late 20s, petite, but had long black hair, glasses and wore a tight black dress with medium height black high heeled shoes.

She walked to the cupboard and returned with the cane. I was ordered to bend over a desk. She stood beside me and started. I got three strokes, which did not really feel like a caning. My bottom was more tingled than burnt. I was dismissed and left with a smile on my face. By the next morning there were not even any marks.

My second caning from her was for forgetting my homework. I got told to see her at the end of the lesson. She was wearing a blue skirt and blue blouse with high heeled shoes which matched. She told me I was to be caned for failing to do my homework. I watched as she collected the cane. She told me to bend over a desk. Part of me was willing her to give me a sound caning, but I was disappointed. The six strokes were haphazardly placed and did not cause any pain. I felt quite sorry when she left at the end of the year. I felt that I was partly the reason she left, but she never really fitted in at my school. She took a long time to dress like the other lady teachers and certainly did not like caning, which was a mainstay of the school discipline system.

My first year record was: Six strokes for impertinence Three strokes for chatting in class, Six strokes for failing to do homework Total of 15 strokes over 3 occasions That completed my first year canings at grammar school, only six more years to go!

NN