I came across this site and thought readers may be interested in a couple of my own personal recollections. I was born in 1966 so, as you can imagine, have quite a few stories as corporal punishment was quite common in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
I came from a working-class family. We lived in a 3-bed semi-detached house; that is, my mum, dad and sister, Charlotte, or Lottie as we called her, who was 2 years younger than me and is the subject of some stories which I will send separately as they are quite long. I had the second bedroom and my sister had the smaller box room.
Just to give a bit of background, we lived in south London in the Croydon district. Dad was born in 1926 and mum 1929, so they were quite old parents. Dad worked for British Gas, first as a fitter and then in the office. Mum was a dinner lady. We didn’t have a lot of money. For the annual holiday, we went camping every year in the UK, but generally were quite content.
Dad was head of the household and what he said went. He was quite sexist and chauvinistic, maybe misogynistic. He put my mum down a lot. She tended to be quite placid but they did occasionally have big rows and my dad had a very, very bad temper. Both my mum and dad liked my sister to be ‘lady-like’, which meant she dressed in a dress when we went out anywhere with her long, brown hair tied back in a pony tail and she played passive games because she got in trouble if she got anything down her new frock! Also, from a very early age she had to help mum; getting dinner, hanging washing out, laying the table, cleaning.
Dad saw his job as outside the home; dealing with finances, DIY, cars, the garden. It was all very traditional.
My sister and I went to the same comprehensive school and at weekends we would go and see my grandad and nana who lived in Mitcham. My grandad died in 1984. My grandparents were very religious, while dad rejected religion, and believed the old adage, ‘spareth the rod, spoileth the child’.
So that’s the background. Yes, we were spanked by both our parents; mum more than dad. Normally, it would be a grab of the left arm and one or two quick slaps on the bottom whilst standing up. Sometimes dad would take his slipper off and deliver a whack with that.
I remember, about 1973, we were looking to move home and went to a show home on an estate that was being built. My sister and I were messing around. We were warned by my mum, but my sister carried on so my mum took her outside to the car, pulled her trousers and knickers down and delivered 3 or 4 smacks to her bare bottom. She was about five years old. I watched from the front door feeling a bit guilty. That’s just an illustration of how it was.
My first story takes place on Tuesday, 7th June 1977, which was the date for the official party for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. I was 11 and my sister 9. Anyway, we had a street party. All the children were on one table at the end of the street. My sister wore a nice, blue satin or silk dress with a lot of net under it and a bow around the waist. It was 1950s inspired. My mum loved feminine clothes but, as she was a bit large, she could not wear them herself so Lottie got to be her, a sort of imagined mini-me.
Initially, we had adult supervision but the adults soon disappeared and were drinking beer and glasses of wine. As the day progressed, we played games and became quite excitable. The result was a bit of a food fight. Children started throwing food around and some kids sucked squash up their drinking straws and sprayed it at other children. Lottie decided to join in. She sucked a lot of squash up her drinking straw and she sprayed orange all over a girl called Gillian who was sitting opposite. It went all down poor Gillian’s nice, checked dress. She burst into tears and started screaming.
Unfortunately, Gillian was an only child and her mother was very protective. She stormed over and started to berate Lottie. Soon my dad was on the scene too, intervening to protect his daughter. Now, at this junction, I will say my dad hated any social embarrassment. He wasn’t a very sociable person, preferring his garden. I think it stemmed from a lack of self-confidence. Anyway, Gillian’s mum turned on my dad and told him, in no uncertain terms, that Lottie had been “badly brought up”!
Everyone turned around and was listening. Dad’s temper suddenly got the better of him; the red mist descended. He was being told he was a bad parent and humiliated in front of the whole street. What could be worse?
“Right,” he said. “Charlotte, you’re coming home with me. NOW!”
With that, he grabbed Lottie by the arm, pulled her up from her seat and frogmarched her back towards our house. My mother and I were in close pursuit. At this stage I’m not sure my mum really knew what was happening as, when we got in, she went straight upstairs to use the loo!
Meanwhile dad marched Lottie into the dining room, drew out a dining room chair from under the table, plonked himself down and then he pulled her over his lap. I had rarely seen him so livid. I stood at the dining room door transfixed. The blue dress and net were pushed up and then he pulled her white knickers down with such vigour they literally ripped apart and ended up on the floor. Then, with his left arm encircling her waist and keeping the skirt of her dress at bay, he belaboured a screaming, yelling and kicking Lottie with his right hand. God, did he wallop her!
Mum came down stairs and stood next to me watching. Sometimes she would intervene to protect us if dad ‘lost it’ but I think she knew that dad was in such a filthy mood he would likely turn on her. So, we both stood by the door of the dining room and watched poor Lottie’s white bum turn the deepest shade of crimson imaginable. What I can still remember are the hand prints. Lottie was spanked that day. Soundly spanked. When Dad had finished, she got up and ran, tears streaming down her red, puffy face. My abiding memory is of her running up to her bedroom rubbing her bottom with both hands through the material of her soft dress.
My mum followed her up to her bedroom to try to comfort her. Then, as I still stood glued to the spot, dad, without saying a word, got up and went into the garden.
The next day, my mum took a very subdued Lottie to Gillian’s house and she gave her a box of chocolates and a letter of apology. The cost of the chocolates was deducted from Lottie’s pocket money.
That Saturday we went for tea, as usual, at my paternal grandparent’s house. They were fervent monarchists and, as the six of us had tea, there was talk of the Jubilee. Inevitably, dad told the story about Lottie misbehaving and described how he had “spanked her until his hand hurt”. I can always remember that phase. Looking back, I suspect he was looking for approval from his parents who, of course, gave it in spades.
Poor Lottie suffered yet another humiliation as my stern grandmother told her she deserved it and she should learn to “sit still and behave”, and what’s more she should not have been disrespectful to the Queen!
In later years, when I used to think about the above events, one thing I loved was the fact that everyone knew Lottie had been “soundly spanked”. Unfortunately, despite my probing, she never said much about it. I am sure it was an unpleasant memory she tried to blot out, but I do know, for a fact, that when mum took her around with the chocolates and the letter of apology, she told Gillian and her mum about Lottie’s punishment. Gillian went to the same school and she would have been absolutely delighted as she didn’t like my little sis for some reason, so I am sure everyone on the street where we lived knew about it as well as a lot of school children and, of course, our grandparents.