During my school days the miniskirt was very much in fashion and we enjoyed rolling our skirts up much shorter than they should have been. This usually resulted in a telling off from a teacher or sometimes even a detention. But one day the head decided she’d had enough of this foolery and warned us any girl she caught rolling her skirt would be made an example of. And this applied when travelling to and from school.
As uniform inspection was usually carried out as we either went into or came out of assembly we thought it was safe to roll our skirts on the way to school (partly to catch the eye of any boys from the boys’ school) and unroll them before registration. Unfortunately, this particular day the head made good her threat and stood at the school gate to inspect our uniforms. I was one of the unfortunates she spotted with a rolled skirt. She took my name and told me I would be dealt with.
I was worried what the next hour would bring and didn’t have to wait long. At the end of assembly the head read out a list of names and told us to come to the front. We went up with embarrassed looks on our faces. She then read the riot act to us and all the school, and said as we had been flagrantly disobeying what she had recently warned us about we would all get the cane. Our hearts dropped into our boots. I was worried she’d cane us there and then in front of the whole school but instead she ordered us to stand outside her office. We stood there anxiously while everyone came out and filed past us, some with smirks on their faces.
The head then came and gathered us together for another lecture, then told us to face the wall. She called the first girl in, who was already in tears at the prospect of being caned. We heard the swish of the cane and three loud cracks as it landed and lots of crying. The girl came out, red faced and holding her bum, in floods of tears. The next girl went in and the same thing happened. This continued until it was my turn.
I went in and found the head, minus gown, with a long traditional cane in her hand.
“Bend over the desk, young lady,” she said.
I complied and felt her tap my bum with the cane. Then came a swoosh and the impact as the cane found its target. There was a momentary sensation of nothing then a horrible burning pain across my backside. I choked back tears as the next one landed and the third started the water works in earnest as I got up holding my bum with tears streaming down my cheeks. “Go and wash your face, then return to your class,” said the head. “And don’t let me have to repeat this!”
“Yes, Miss’,” I blubbed.
“Tell the next girl to come in,” said the head as I exited, holding a bum that seemed to have been branded with a red hot poker.
This wasn’t the first time I had been caned at school, nor was it to be the last.
But the fact that thirteen of us were caned that day has meant we have gone down in school folklore as ‘The Unlucky 13’!
Now you would’ve thought with that I would have learned my lesson, but, teenage hormones being what they are, that was not the end of my painful experiences with skirts.
Because we knew the head was likely to be on the prowl, we took to rolling our skirts up very short on the way to school and then unrolling them before we went into the school gates. In that way we could have short miniskirts on the way there, but still be within the school rules when we were actually on the school premises.
Unfortunately, the constant rolling and unrolling of the skirt took its toll on the material and the top of the skirt ended up a mess. When mum saw what I had been doing she was not pleased. The fact I was 16 did not stop her putting me over her knee and tanning my behind with a slipper! I also had to pay for a new skirt out of my pocket money, which was a punishment in itself.
This of course did not stop me from wearing my skirt short. In the morning I would set off for school in the new skirt but with the old one in my bag. I’d then change into the old one in a public loo conveniently up the road and arrive with my old skirt rolled up. It was shorter anyway than the new one and suited my sense of fashion.
Looking back, it was really very naughty but typical of teenage rebellion. Mum never found out and it was years before I dared to tell her. But then, as my dad said to her, ‘If that’s all the teen rebellion we got, then we did well!’ Which I suppose was the only way of looking at it.