After giving my boyfriend, Garry, a quick kiss at the school main door, he then hurried on to the PE block. It was nearly twenty to ten. The first period finished at ten. I headed to the girls toilet. I took my make-up bag out and redid my lipstick and eyes, then took my cigarettes out and lit one. I took all my rings off and put them in my school bag. Mrs Logan the music teacher would probably strap me for being late.

I lifted my skirt up and pulled my tights right up. I took three big puffs of my cigarette and flushed it down the toilet, then hurried to the music room. When I reached the door it was five to ten. I knocked, then entered. The class looked up at me. Mrs Logan was sitting at the piano.

“Ah, Margaret, glad to see you could honour us with your presence. What’s your excuse for turning up with five minutes of the period left?”

“I slept in, miss,” I said.

“You slept in yet you still had time to apply your make up flawlessly?” Mrs Logan said, getting up from the piano.

She went across to her desk, opened the drawer and took out a long brown strap. She straightened it.

“Maybe this will help you to turn up on time up!” she shouted.

I had been rubbing my hands down the back of my tights to get the sweat off them. I crossed them in front of me and tensed.


I changed hands.


“Other one again,” Mrs Logan said.


“And again,” she said.


I yelped.

“That will teach you, Margaret,”  Mrs Logan said, coming right up to my face.

I was crying softly.

“Have you been smoking, girl?” she said.

“No, miss,” I stammered, regretting the cigarette I had.

“Now breathe on my face, girl.”

I did as she asked.

“You have been smoking, girl.”

“No, miss,” I said.

“Let me see your bag.”

At that moment the bell rang for change of period. She took my bag and found my cigarettes.

“You denying you were smoking now, girl?” she shouted.

“No, miss,” I said.

“You get your hands back up.”

“Please, miss,” I pleaded.

“Up now, Margaret, or you and I are going to see the headmaster.

I crossed my hands. They were trembling.

Crack, crack, crack!

“Other hand,” she shouted.

Crack, crack, crack!

I was sobbing loudly.

“Get out of my sight, girl. Class dismissed.”

Ten of the strap in five minutes. The maximum was six on each hand or twelve with your hands side by side. My hands were numb. I made my way to the toilet and held them under the cold water tap. I washed my face, re-applied the make-up and hurried to my next class, home economics.

When I met Garry at break time, he had heard. I showed him my hands. They were bruised and swollen.

“Oh, babe, I’m sorry. That was my fault what happened to you.”

He then took my hand and I yelped.