The question was asked about whether Corporal Punishment dealt out to us during our school years was fair or not.

Apart from a few trips to the front of the class in prep school to bend over in front of the whole class for a few whacks with the slipper across my bottom, I received four punishments during my senior school years. These are detailed in my account; ‘Actual CP Experience,’ with further detail in; ‘The Music Master’.

As a brief recap, the first punishment I received was a six-of-the-best from the Headmaster having been caught smoking. We all knew smoking brought a mandatory caning, and I was summoned to the Headmaster’s study to attend at 10:30. Waiting nervously in the secretary’s office, I was summoned in to the Headmaster’s study and he confirmed that was going to cane me and that he was going to administer six strokes. He told me to remove my jacket, loosen my tie before being instructed to bend over and touch my toes. The six strokes I then received were exceptionally painful and my first experience of the cane. I knew the risk and was caught red-handed and duly received the mandatory caning. I cannot complain, so I say, fair.

The second punishment I received was from the Music Master. Three of us were judged to be responsible for two chairs being upended during Morning Assembly, and unfortunately our first lesson of the morning after Assembly was Music. The three of us were taken to an adjacent room and told that we would all be caned. My friend was caned first and, after being instructed to lower his trousers, was made to bend across a desk and receive six sharp strokes of the cane across his bottom. I remember this was the first time I had witnessed a boy being caned and it had a strange effect on me. But it was now my turn and, suffering the embarrassment of having to lower my trousers, I bent over the same desk and received six strokes, which I thought at the time were more painful than the caning I had received from the Headmaster, either because I only had my pants as protection or he simply caned harder. It is true that the chairs got upended and assembly had been disrupted, but it was my two friends that were mainly responsible. But I had encouraged them, so whilst not being directly responsible I was implicated, so probably fair.

The third punishment I received was from the PT Master. He had given me a few quick sharp whackings within gym sessions; no more than a couple of quick whacks with his plimsole across my bottom with only gym shorts as protection. But on this occasion, I was sent out to the changing room having been yet again accused of ‘mucking about’. Having set the rest of the class a gym drill, he came into the changing room and took off his own large plimsol before telling me fetch the stool in the corner and to drop my shorts. He then told me to bend over the stool and grip the lower legs before giving me six painful whacks across my bare bottom with his plimsole, taking no more than thirty seconds. This whacking was a lot more painful than I expected and not a lot less painful than getting the cane. However, it was a very different pain being across the whole expanse of my bottom and not with the intensity of a caning. He was always telling me off for not talking his gym lessons seriously, so probably fair.

The fourth and last punishment was a second caning from the Music Master. I was accused of not taking his music lesson seriously (there was trend here!) and that I should report back to him at 4pm after the last period of the day. I knew that meant the cane. As I entered his side-room, I vividly remember him locking the door before telling me that I had a serious punishment coming to me for some time for consistently being disrespectful, and that I was going get a ‘special’ caning. Taking off his own jacket I was instructed to also remove my jacket and, as this was to a ‘special’ caning, that I should take off my trousers and anything else I was wearing below the waist as this beating was going to be given across my bare bottom. My previous caning from him had been with others in the room and this felt very different. I was probably about 16 years of age and felt self-conscious and embarrassed as I undressed; he even made me take off my socks! Previously I had been made to bend across his desk; this time I was instructed to touch my toes in the middle of the room and was told to place my legs twelve inches apart. When I had been whacked by the PE Master on my bare bottom, it had been a very quick affair. This was far from that as he paced around me with my bare bottom exposed and awaiting his cane. Being made to wait was awful and I was very conscious that he was looking at my bare bottom. The first stroke came at least two minutes later and was a huge step up in pain from anything that I had previously experienced. The actual caning was conducted at a leisurely pace taking over five minutes to complete; between strokes he took a step back to look at my bottom now with an increasing number of cane stripes. After the final stroke, being in tradition the hardest of all, I was instructed to remain in position and not even think of rubbing my bottom. Eventually I was told to stand up and face him with my hands by my side as he lectured me, and no doubt took in my frontal nudity. Apart from the incredible pain across my bottom, I felt extremely uncomfortable and instinctively knew that this was wrong.

I think getting the cane for my undoubted poor behaviour in class, even such a severe bare-bottomed caning could have been fair but harsh if it had been conducted in a straightforward manner. If, once I had bent over, he simply thrashed my bottom six times I would have had to accept that it was fair.

But, the ritualization of the caning that had me bending over with my bare bottom exposed for such a long time as he slowly caned me gave the punishment a different dimension. Obviously in later years it was clear that he had another agenda, which was largely about his own gratification. To this extent the word unfair is a considerable understatement!

PG