It was English double period. Mrs Bateman was droning away about Shakespeare.
“Who is ever going to need to know this tripe?” whispered Vicky, whom I sat next to.
“Too true,” I confirmed as quiet as a mouse, because Mrs B had the hearing and stealth of a barn owl. And the looks too, actually. I am sure her head could swivel the whole way around.
Mrs B finished the lesson. Vicky dashed out of the room.
“What did the old bat say at the end? I missed it,” I asked Chelsea, who was sitting in front of me.
“She said to write a short report on the discussion and fight between pages 76 and 83 of the text book for tomorrow’s lesson,” Chelsea said.
“Thanks mate, glad I asked,” I said gratefully, not even considering Vicky, who also was not listening.
I did my English and Mathematics homework as soon as I got in, because I wanted to watch something on TV after dinner.
Next day, Maths was boring, and then we had English again with Mrs B.
“Now class, settle down. I want some of you to read your reports from last night’s homework,” Mrs B began.
“What’s she on about?” Vicky whispered anxiously.
I now realised Vicky had not heard Mrs B setting the homework and would be in trouble.
“She wanted us to read pages 76 to 83 and summarise the dialogue and fight,” I whispered just too loudly.
“Sheila, you seem to have a lot to say. Why not say something we are all interested in? You can go first!” Mrs B said, half expecting me to have not done the homework.
I stood confidently and read the summary, which was about 3/4 of a page of A4.
“Very good! I am actually impressed, Sheila,” Mrs B had to concede.
I sat down smugly and hoped Vicky would get away with not having done the work. I should have known better.
“Vicky, let’s hear yours,” Mrs B said.
Vicky froze. What could she do?
“I am sorry, Miss. I didn’t hear you set the homework. May I do this for next week, please Miss?”
“I thought both of you two were not paying attention yesterday, but it appears one of you was. Luckily for you, Sheila. As for you, Vicky, you can certainly do that for next week’s first lesson, but before that you must learn not to daydream and not pay attention to my class. Up here, now Vicky!” said Mrs B with a strong tone of annoyance in her voice.
Vicky pushed her chair back, which made a loud grating sound on the wooden floor, and walked slowly past the four rows of desks separating our desk from the front of the class. She stood facing Mrs B with her hands behind her back, guessing what was coming next.
Mrs B produced a well-used black plimsoll from her top drawer, and I saw the colour drain from Vicky’s neck from where I was sitting. Perhaps she thought she’d just get smacked with Mrs B’s hand.
“Bend over my desk and reach across to the far side. Push your bottom out. That’s perfect,” Mrs B said.
Then, to the entertainment of everyone, but especially the boys in the class, she pulled Vicky’s grey pleated skirt up above her waist, leaving her red knickers and half her bottom on display to all and sundry. There were whispers of anticipation and approval.
“Silence! Unless you wish to join her.”
Silence fell, but only for a matter of seconds. Whapp! The plimsoll rose and fell onto Vicky’s knickers in the blink of an eye, the sound reverberating from the classroom walls. Whapp! A second equally harsh blow landed, making Vicky sway forward and gasp. Whapp! Vicky grunted and sagged very slightly at the knees. A fourth and, as it turned out to be, final slap of plimsoll on bottom yielded a loud ‘ouch’ from Vicky.
“Now get up, get back to your desk, and pay attention,” Mrs B ordered.
As Vicky stood, her skirt covered her sore bottom and she walked returned to her desk.
“Nice knickers, Vicky!” a boy called Charlie whispered as she walked past.
A stick of chalk landed squarely on the side of his head, a good shot from Mrs B.
“Any more of that, Charlie, and you’ll be rubbing your own bottom, lad!” Mrs B said authoritatively.
Vicky re-took her seat, wincing as her bottom made initial contact with the hard, unforgiving wooden surface.
And then Mrs B continued with the lesson.
Sheila (as told to JG)