My fourth year at grammar school was a surprise, especially to me. I got only one detention and only one caning. It seemed I had starting growing up, or learning from my past mistakes. The account below is as I remember it, though the names are changed. The description of the teacher is accurate as I kept a diary and recorded the details.

My single caning came in the summer term. I was fifteen at the time and it was 1967. One lunchtime, another lad made some rude comments about a girl I fancied, including calling here the local bike. I was furious and grabbed him. Before we knew it, we were fighting. A group obviously gathered and were chanting, “Fight,Fight,Fight etc”.

Teachers in the playground noticed and came to break us up. One of them was Mrs Broadbent, the Senior Mistress, who ordered us to wait outside her office. While we were waiting, several kids walked past and giggled at our obvious discomfort, knowing we were waiting for the cane. After quite a while, we heard Mrs Broadbent coming because of her high heels clicking. She opened the door and ordered us in.

Mrs Broadbent was in her forties, short blond hair, tall, slim, and that day she was wearing a white polo-necked, clingy top, tight black skirt and black high heeled shoes. She demanded to know why we were fighting. We replied that it was over a girl. She, incorrectly, concluded that we both fancied the same girl and we did not put her straight. She explained that fighting was not the answer and we should have talked it through, before saying that fighting was also against the rules. She continued by telling us that it was an automatic caning offence. This was not a surprise.

She placed a chair in the middle of the room. I watched as she went to the cupboard and selected the longest, thickest crook-handled cane from the rack. I was sent to the corner and the other boy bent over the chair without being asked. Like me, he knew the procedure well. I watched excitedly and terrified in equal measure as Mrs Broadbent walked towards him. She looked so beautiful and well-dressed at all times, but the cane gave her an extra attraction to a teenage boy.

I watched as she tapped his bottom with the cane before lifting it high over her shoulder. It swished down so quickly and cracked loudly. The boy tensed as it hit. Mrs Broadbent repeated the stroke and I was fascinated as it hit the lad’s bottom hard. His back tensed again. The third and fourth strokes were the same and got a similar result. The fifth stroke appeared to have extra effort from Mrs Broadbent and the lad let out a slight yelp as it hit. Mrs Broadbent lifted the cane for the sixth time. I noticed a slight change in action which obviously produced the diagonal stroke, and the lad jumped up as it hit and yelped loudly. Mrs Broadbent stepped back and told him to stand next to me.

I was then called forward and immediately bent over the chair and grasped the seat tightly. My previous visits to Mrs Broadbent told me I was in for a painful time at her hands. Excitement had disappeared now, and sheer fear had taken over. Mrs Broadbent soon touched her cane. I felt the tapping which seemed extra hard this time. Before I knew it, the cane had lifted and had hit my bottom hard. I tensed as the expected burning pain arrived. The cane touched again and swished to its target. I tensed even more as the burning increased. Mrs Broadbent and the bigger cane made this a truly painful punishment, and I was not yet halfway though. The cane tapped again. Even this was painful as it touched a previous mark. It soon swished down and a third burning line arrived. I stamped my foot as the burn increased. Mrs Broadbent continued and the fourth stroke soon bit home. I stamped my foot again. The fifth stroke was extremely hard and low as usual. I wriggled my bottom as the pain arrived. I was determined not to cry out. Mrs Broadbent told me to stay still or get extra strokes. Mrs Broadbent then delivered her trademark diagonal stroke to finish. It was so painful as it crossed the other cane marks. I could feel tears but managed to subdue them. I was relieved when I heard her high heels walking away.

I was told to stand by the wall and we both watched our names being entered in the punishment book. She dismissed us and we left the room, no longer fighters but more comrades in arms, and headed to the toilets to inspect the damage. Six bright red angry raised wheels were present in a perfect five bar gate pattern. Well done Mrs Broadbent! This was my only caning in a whole year but one of my most painful yet. It was worth it, though, as I made good friends with the lad and earned the respect of my peers for the fight. But even better was I got a date with the girl when she found out I defended her honour.