We had a system at school for dealing with girls who we considered had been out of order or had snitched on another girl. It was quite simple really. We lined up along the gym wall and formed a tunnel with our hands on the wall and forced her to enter one end and exit the other. She had no choice, she would have been pushed in if necessary and as she made her way to the other end she would be kicked or get her bottom smacked as she passed by. The system was in place long before I started there and the teachers tended to turn a blind eye to it.

One girl who wasn’t well liked emerged rather battered from her ordeal; she hadn’t been quick enough through. The day after, her mother had been in to school and made a serious complaint about it. The day after that, the boys were sent out of assembly and the headmistress stood on the stage. She made it quite clear that the school would not condone what she called a barbaric practice, plus all the girls involved would be identified and caned.

She read out three names and asked them to stand. She then asked for the girls to admit they were part of it by also standing up. Two did, and the rest of us stayed firmly seated. The five of them were sent to her office for six of the cane.

That morning the witch hunt began and by lunch time we were all identified and told to report to the gym. To our surprise it was Miss Winton who emerged complete with her stick. The headmistress was officially on a course for a few days, had only come in to deal with this matter, and had left it to her to deal with.

So instead of the cane we were to receive six of the stick. There were six of us lined up, but when asked the question two were excused for a week and sent back out. As there were now only four of us she lined us up in the gym and told us to bend over. She flipped our skirts out of the way and stood at the end of the line. She gave our bottoms two hefty cracks then moved on to the next girl, and so on down the line. She then went down the line giving us another two whacks, and then again until we had all received six.

There were some sore bottoms in the school that day, but the five that got the cane would have got the sorest bottoms of all. As for the two that were delayed punishment, they got the cane when the headmistress was back.