It was Thursday. The school never had parents evenings on a Friday when we girls would have the weekend to recover from our punishments. The teachers liked to see us on Friday morning, to see the effect their words had on us as we sat fidgeting uncomfortably on the hard wooden chairs. “Well Harriet, I don’t suppose you’re looking forward to this evening.” She said it with a smile, but I could not be sure if this was by way of sympathy or whether she was enjoying my discomfort. “No Miss,” I replied quietly, my head bowed to avoid eye contact.

At the girls’ school I attended from age eleven, corporal punishment was a regular occurrence, but back at primary school, spankings were rare and when they happened they were big news. Only the headmaster ever spanked the pupils, with a female teacher present if the pupil was a girl, and although very few children ever experienced it, it was an accepted fact that when he spanked he spanked extremely hard. So I was understandably nervous on the one occasion I found myself outside his office, my destiny unknown. I was seven or eight years old and sitting at a table

Christmas morning.  about 5am. I knocked on my parents’ bedroom door. “Can I go down and open my presents now, please?” “For goodness sake, Harriet. It’s not even light yet. Get back to bed this instant.” “But Mum, please. I can’t sleep.” “No. Get back to bed. You can open your presents when I get up at seven o’clock.” “But Mum.” “I said ‘no’, Harriet. If I hear another word from you you’ll be opening your presents with a sore bottom! Do you understand?” I went back to bed and lay there, wide awake and frustrated, until, a long while later,

I was fourteen years old and my parents considered me old enough to be left at home without the need for a babysitter. My sister was out at a friend’s house, and my best friend Sarah was round at ours. Mum and Dad were going out to a concert in town and we would have the house to ourselves. It was a Friday, so we had no school in the morning, and Sarah was allowed to stay until ten o’clock. At around half past six, as my parents were leaving the house, Mum kissed me goodbye and told me to

I was in the supermarket yesterday when I bumped into a woman I had been at school with. We got chatting about the usual stuff, what our children were doing now, grandkids, the hideous new office development blocking all the sun from the town hall square, etc, when suddenly we heard shouting. Looking around, we saw a younger woman and her daughter, who looked about nine or ten. I don’t know what the girl had done, but the mother had had enough of her doing it, and was letting her know. To make sure she understood, her words were followed by a

On Thursdays, it was my habit after tea to go down the street to my friend Lisa’s house and watch Top of the Pops. My sister Rebecca was at Girl Guides on Thursdays and my parents had the pleasure of a few hours to themselves. On this particular Thursday, I had gone round at about half past six and Lisa and I were in her kitchen getting drinks of squash when she said she had something to show me. “Look at this,” said Lisa. “It’s amazing. An unbreakable cup. Watch.” She picked it up and dropped it on the floor where it

This memory follows on very closely from the last one, when I was 15. In fact, at the beginning of this story my bum was probably still bearing the marks of the spanking I received that day. Being brought home by the police had the unexpected and undeserved consequence that for a while I had a reputation as a ‘bad girl’. Real ‘bad girls’ wanted to be my friend and boys were suddenly more interested in me. I didn’t want to be friends with the bad girls, I got enough spankings already, but I admit I quite enjoyed getting attention

After three years at the girls’ school from age 11 to 14, I spent the last two years of my education at the High school in town. Corporal punishment was used there, but it was almost always boys who got it. Sometimes girls did, for serious offences, but I was not one of them and my days of being spanked at school were over. However, at home I was still subject to the same regime. The most common punishment I and most other girls received at the High School was after-school detention. I found myself kept in after school on

Several of the girls on the estate where I lived were keen on playing football. Our parents all thought we should play it in the park at the end of the street but whenever we did, boys would come and join in uninvited and spoil the game by keeping the ball away from us, so we preferred to gather in someone’s garden. As you can imagine, the location had to change every time we got banned from a garden, such as at our house when Mum saw the ball hit the kitchen window. Luckily, it didn’t break or I would

Like most girls growing up in the 1970s, I thought that smoking was cool. When I was about thirteen I was persuaded to try it by one of my friends and, although I didn’t really like it, I thought I should persevere so that I would look cool and boys would fancy me. My mum was a smoker and I worked out that it was possible to steal fags from her packet as long as it wasn’t too full or too empty. If there were only a few left, or if there were only a few missing, the difference was