Lunchtime at my small prep school in Surrey UK was very much traditional in style back in the 1970s with a hall and long trestle tables on which 80 or so boys and a handful of girls sat and had their lunch. Teachers ate elsewhere but a couple of them supervised, taking it turns.
I, aged 8, sat at the end of the middle table near the raised platform on which the staff sat during assemblies. Everyone was eating their puddings when a boy next to me started an argument with the boy opposite and some kicking went on under the table. Unfortunately, the teacher in charge, Ms F, who was known for her strictness, thought it was me and the next thing I heard was her calling out my name!
I was summoned on to the platform and told to stand in the corner facing the wall. The hall had gone very quiet. I tried to protest but to no avail. The plates were cleared away a few minutes later, while all the time I stood there very scared as to what would happen to me.
The teacher called for silence, which happened at once, and then called me over to stand in front of her. She lectured me and everyone about proper behaviour. She said fighting and arguing was simply bad behaviour and this required punishment, or words to that effect. Whatever the actual words, I can very much recall at this point fearing the worst.
Outside the hall were the classrooms, and each room had rows of pegs where coats and PE bags were hung up. She sent me outside to go and fetch a plimsoll from one of the bags. These were all regulation black slip-on pumps with an elasticated part on the top. I now knew my fate so hurried out to find one. I duly returned with said plimsoll.
The hall was in total silence; no one dared make any noise. I handed the plimsoll to Miss F. She told me to remove my blazer and then, in my shorts, I was bent over a chair she had placed in the middle of the platform whilst I was out of the room. I held on to the back of the chair and she delivered two sharp whacks to my bottom. I thought she had done but her hand stayed me.
I had a few tears in my eyes but that’s all. She then told the school I would have one more as an example to everyone who might be thinking of behaving like “silly little boys”, I distinctly remember her saying that phrase. The third whack echoed round the hall and really hurt. I stood up put my blazer on and she dismissed everyone out for playtime after lunch.
She told me I could go and, sniffling a bit, I left with my friends offering kind words and some other boys mocking me.
My bum was definitely on fire throughout the next hour or so. The boy who was in the wrong tried to say sorry but all I can recall is telling him he should have owned up.
The twist in the tale happened at home-time. I was dreading my parents being told. My mum car-shared with another mum who had an older boy. He was teasing throughout the journey by making comments which gave me the fear he was going to tell her that I got spanked in front of everyone. He didn’t, but unbeknown to me the teacher had already told my mum, who told my dad when he got home.
Back then, any hope of protesting innocence was a non-starter. Teachers were always believed and trusted. So, later that evening after my usual bath, I was spanked again by my dad over the knee, totally naked, in front of my mum and older brother. I went to bed a very unhappy little boy. Boys are resilient, however, and the next morning all was normal again except for the teasing I got from other boys. The one girl in my class, however, thought I’d been very brave. We are still friends today in our fifties.
This was my first experience of school CP but not my last.