After five years at grammar school, I failed to achieve good enough exam results to stay in their sixth form. So I moved to another local school with a sixth form and was reunited with some friends from primary school. Dress code was much more relaxed than grammar school and I soon settled in. The cane was still used, but less frequently, especially on sixth formers. However, we were warned that serious offences would still attract a caning.

I had a few minor behavioural problems, but none were serious enough to be punished formally. Near the end of the academic year that changed when I went with my girlfriend, Sally, to the local pub during lunch break with some friends. We had just finished our drinks when Sally spotted Miss Roberts (name changed), the Senior Mistress, in the other bar. We all got up and started to leave quickly before she spotted us.

Sadly for us, though, Miss Roberts also left by the back door. Sally and I were leading the way and came face to face with her. Our friends realised before she saw them and hid behind a wall. Miss Roberts asked us what we were doing out of bounds and drinking under age. We could think of no answer to the out of bounds, but lied about drinking alcohol. We said we only drank a soft drink. Miss Roberts told us to report to her office after the lunch break. We left and walked back to school rather fearfully. Our friends sneaked back later and commiserated with us.

After lunch break, we reported to Miss Roberts as instructed. She asked us if we had been to the pub before, which we truthfully denied. She continued and asked us if we had been alone. As was the custom, we were not going to drop our friends in it so said we were alone. Miss Roberts asked us about drinking alcohol again and we denied it again.

Then she dropped a bombshell. She said she had gone back into the pub and spoke with the landlord. He confirmed her suspicions about alcohol and said there were six of us, three girls and three boys. She warned him that we were underage and he promised not to serve us in future. But she now wanted to know the names of our friends.

We told her we could not name them, but she persisted. We again refused to name them and she said it left her with no option but to punish us severely.  She said that we would get six strokes of the cane if we named our friends or we would get extra if we refused. Sally looked at me, and Miss Roberts said she would step outside for a minute to let us discuss the matter. Sally wanted to name them but I persuaded her that we could not. Miss Roberts returned and we told her our decision.

She then surprised us by saying that she would delay our caning until after school. If all of our friends came forward by the end of the day we would all get six strokes. If they did not, then we would receive extra strokes, but she did not say how many.

We both left feeling very downbeat and found our friends at break time. They asked what happened and we told them. They quickly decided it was unfair for us to receive extra strokes so agreed to report to Miss Roberts with us. We met up at the end of school and went to Miss Robert’s office. I knocked and she opened the door. She seemed rather pleased that all six of us were present. She lectured us all for several minutes before confirming our sentence, six strokes each.

She told us to line up on the far wall and moved a chair into the middle of her office. Then she took the cane and punishment book out of the cupboard. She slowly wrote our names in the book before picking up her cane. She ordered Sally out first and told her to bend over the chair back. Sally did as ordered and six hard strokes were delivered on her tight skirt. She was then told to join us and the second girl was summoned, followed by the third girl.

I was then summoned and Miss Roberts delivered six hard strokes on my bum. I was then sent back and my other two mates received their punishment.

At the end, Miss Roberts gave us a final warning before dismissing us. The next day our shame was compounded when it was announced that three boys and three girls from the lower sixth had received six strokes of the cane for going to the pub in lunch break and a warning that anyone caught in the future would get the same. Everyone looked towards us. Such embarrassment!

Anyway, despite this I was made a prefect the following year. That was a surprise, considering I was one of an elite band of pupils caned in the sixth form.