This story is from 1981. I was 15 and my sister, Lottie, was 13. We attend the same comprehensive school. The uniform was black skirt, white shirt and black blazer, with grey or black trousers for boys. Lottie tended to wear tight knee-length pencil skirts. She was quite attractive and popular, whereas I was quieter. She wasn’t academic and was in the CSE group whereas I was an ‘O’ level student.

I used to walk to school with Lottie. We got on well, and that resulted in me introducing her to a friend. He wasn’t a good friend, just someone I knew, Ian, who played in a punk band with two mates, both at the same school. He was Lottie’s first boyfriend and, although lunches were staggered and different years weren’t supposed to mix, they did and Lottie and Ian were often together.

The school was run by a headmaster, Mr B, who dealt with the boys, and his deputy, Ms G, who was responsible for the girls. She always wore dresses, and was quite large and blond-haired, probably in her forties.

One Monday in November, the fire alarm went off in the afternoon and we all traipsed out for a roll call. I was surprised Ian wasn’t in our class and when I left the school Lottie wasn’t about either. She sometimes walked home with Ian who normally took a bus from outside the school to his house, but occasionally he would walk home with me and Lottie and catch the bus further down the route. That night I told mum and dad about the fire alarm and saw that Lottie was sheepish but I thought no more of it.

Setting the fire alarm off was a caning offence. We all knew that, and to me the cane sent quivers of fear through me. There was no way my little sis would be involved.

Next day at school, the headmaster said, in assembly, he would find the culprits and he suggested they come forward. Then on Wednesday, in assembly, Lottie’s name was called out! She had been missing from class and had been seen leaving the grounds just after the alarm. She walked to the front of the assembly and was told to tell the school who she had been with on Monday afternoon. Fortunately, Ian and his mates were gallant enough to save her the ordeal and came out to the front too.

The four were sent to the headmaster’s office. All day long, I thought of poor Lottie being caned. I couldn’t believe it; my little sister!

At lunchtime, I caught up with Ian who told me he’d been given 4 strokes and the other two boys 3, but Ms G had been away at a conference so Lottie had been sent back to class.

Lottie and I walked home that night and I knew she was scared stiff of what she faced the following day. She kept saying she’d wanted to be “caned with boys and get it over with” and she wasn’t sure it was going to be the hand or the bottom. She thought it would probably be the hand for girls. Of course, I told mum and dad and Lottie got a lecture from our parents, who blamed Ian and banned her from seeing him. Of course, they fully supported the school. That night I couldn’t sleep for worry about my little sis.

So, to the Thursday. I remember dad joking over breakfast that he hoped Lottie was “wearing her woolly knickers”. He actually seemed to be enjoying it. It was raining hard and there was thunder, so Lottie chose to wear a pair of black, knee-high boots. We walked to school together, me trying to comfort her. I remember I even gave her a kiss on the cheek when we parted! I was just so worried on her behalf but she seemed quite stoical.

We all drilled into assembly hall for the morning assembly and at the end Lottie was called up to the front and sent out to the corridor where the headmaster’s and his deputy’s offices were. I couldn’t wait for an update but, due to the weather, we were kept inside at break. I saw Ian comforting Lottie at lunchtime and knew she had been a victim of the dreaded cane. We walked home together, but it was raining so hard we couldn’t really talk much, and Lottie didn’t seem in the mood anyway.

Of course, she told mum and dad over dinner and was once again banned from seeing Ian. Once more, she was told she had “got what she deserved and they hoped it had taught her a lesson”.

After dinner, Lottie and I went upstairs to do our homework and a bit later she came into my room and sat on the bed, and there she tearfully told me the full story.

She had waited for what seemed like an eternity and then Mr B had gone to see Mrs G. They had spoken for some time and then he had called Lottie into Mrs G’s study. Lottie had stood in the middle of the room, whereupon Mrs G had reprimanded her for wearing boots and forgetting to have shoes to change into! The fact she was nervous about the punishment seemingly completely slipped their minds.

The Headmaster apparently stood to the side with a punishment book open on the table behind him and a cane laying across it! A chair had been placed in the middle of the room. Mr B told Lottie he had spoken to the three boys and although Ian had said he was the ring leader they had each said they were showing off in front of her. She had been the one to make the final strike on the fire alarm glass with the end of a pen, and this was what had set it off. Lottie had agreed that was the case.

“We decided on 4 strokes, but now I have seen a uniform violation I think that should be 5. Do you agree, headmaster?” Mrs G had said.

The headmaster did agree, so poor Lottie was told to come forward and bend over the back of the chair and move her hands down the legs. The following year Mrs G took Lottie for Spanish and told her that the reason she asked her to bend over a chair rather than touch her toes like the boys was that she was so unused to using the cane she wanted to ensure Lottie remained still as she didn’t trust her own accuracy!

So, Lottie got caned. On the backside. Five strokes and hard. Apparently, the headmaster joked at the end to Mrs G that she should do all the canings as it was far harder than his usual efforts.

Then, I’m not sure who suggested it, but Lottie ended the story by pushing down her jeans and showing me the red lines across her backside. I remember being surprised that she had chosen to wear thin black nylon knickers to school and then being surprised the welts were still red some hours later. I also felt her bum which was still warm. That night when I went to bed, I was thinking about Lottie but I wasn’t as worried as I had been earlier. No, I was rather pleased, incredibly pleased in fact.