Summer 1965

Mary Gallagher was one of a large family from a new housing development. She had the good luck to be very bright and thereby qualify for a scholarship to our school. Bright, I say, but not bright enough to learn how to avoid the various punishments the school had on offer, a bit like me really as I was serving yet another detention for persistent lateness. Mary was also an excellent athlete and hockey player. Debbie, the team captain, and I recruited her just recently to the team. It made me lose my prodigy status, but I didn’t really mind. Mary was a very sweet girl but could she talk? I think it was mainly that for which she was forever in trouble. I suppose it was trying to compete with the other kids in her family that she talked so much, a loving family, but strict, so she was no stranger to discipline at home, and I believe her bottom was no stranger to Miss Roberts’s slipper in class. She was obviously given the detention by one of her other teachers. If her misdemeanour had been committed in Miss Roberts’s class she would not have been sitting in the detention room, in fact she might not have been sitting at all!

I can’t remember the other girl’s name, but the two of them had fallen into the trap of perceived safety when Miss Roberts went out for her coffee, and of course got caught whispering loudly at each other when she sneaked back in. I’d thought about warning them but realised the foolishness in that, especially as I was seeing a boyfriend that night and I knew exactly the lasting effects of Miss Roberts’s slipper. It was deja vu for me when the two girls were called out to the front of the room. It reminded me of six months previously when Cathy and I had been standing there at the front guessing pretty accurately what was to be our immediate fate. I wondered which of the two girls would be nominated to fetch the slipper from Miss Roberts’s classroom cupboard, as Cathy was for our punishment. Both girls likely knew where it was, but the honour was bestowed on me for some reason, possibly because I was perhaps more aware than anyone, the intricacies of releasing the lock and the plimsoll within, as I had had to wait for my three stokes that day as Miss Roberts struggled with it at length.

No problem, the oil can on the window ledge was testament to Miss Roberts’s determination that the lock would work when required next time. Slightly relieved, I carried the implement back to the detention room, swishing it in the air with a sort of abandonment that came with knowing that on this occasion at least my bottom was safe, well it would be so long as I kept my head down and got to the end of the detention without incurring Miss Roberts’s displeasure. I made the mistake though of swishing it against my left hand where it landed with quite a crack that echoed through the corridor and left me wincing with an almighty sting in my palm and fingers. Stupid or what? I handed the slipper to Miss Roberts and I wondered if there was a slight smirk on her face suggesting she might have heard me testing my hand in the corridor.

The first girl was soon over the front desk, head facing the wall and bottom facing the class with Mary forced to watch no doubt with the goosebumps and almost uncontrollable fear we all had when facing an imminent spanking from Miss Roberts. Having to watch while a co-defendant received her punishment first did not help at all. With skirt pulled well over her back, the girl was already receiving the first whack by the time I got back to my desk. You weren’t supposed to watch but quite frankly it was impossible not to. The stroke was planted firmly as ever across both knickered buttocks and elicited a slightly delayed squeak. By the third stroke the girl was expressing her dissatisfaction more loudly. Her attempt to stand up and clutch her bottom after the fourth met with the dire warning of having to start again if she repeated her disobedience. At the end she limped back to her desk in considerable disarray, crying quietly but openly. Six of the best from Miss Roberts was a fearsome punishment, as I well knew, but the standard for breaking detention period rules. Miss Roberts would normally have made her wait whilst her partner in crime received her come-uppance, but perhaps on this occasion took pity on the girl as it may have been her first time under the lash, well, size-substantial plimsoll anyway.

Mary next; as I said I don’t think the plimsoll and Mary’s bottom were strangers and it seemed Mary did know the routine, over the desk, and skirt back, just trying to be helpful, not that it was going to do her any good. Miss Roberts, as I believe I told you, liked to measure her strokes. Whilst six strokes would only take just under a minute and a half, the fifteen seconds pause between swats was there for a purpose, giving the girl time to acquaint herself with the sting and immense heat building up from each blow before the next one arrived. Mary’s bottom in white knickers was just learning the benefit once again. Whether she’d had six before I don’t know. My two sixes from Miss Roberts were among the most memorable of my school disciplinary career, but then come to think of it so were the others, a six with a well-aimed and applied plimsoll was always enough to provide sufficient retribution and a reminder for a couple of days or probably more afterwards.

Mary was taking her punishment very well, her athletic legs were pacing slightly between strokes and her hips were rolling in unison in an attempt to re-direct some of the pain away from the immediate target area. The fourth stroke landed hard across both buttocks and Mary uttered her first verbal reaction, a sort of muffled ‘ouch’ which I can assure you was an understatement, the fifth after the fifteen second pause landed in more or less the same place, and forced a groan from the end facing the wall where Mary’s hands would have been clinging for dear life on to the edge of the desk. Mary had a fairly petite bottom so as the landing strip was fairly narrow, most of the whacks would have been landing directly on top of each other. At the sixth she did cry out, not surprisingly, and then very slowly got up, rolled her skirt back down and took the opportunity to soothe her roasting cheeks in the process.

She walked stiffly back, passing my desk on the way. Without wishing to be noticed by Miss Roberts, I couldn’t avoid lifting my head slightly to give her a reassuring smile, empathy with a friend. Mary’s chin crumpled a little and she wiped away tears from both cheeks. I watched as she sat down, and the predictable reaction as her chin crumpled again, wincing while parking her aching bottom on the hard wooden seat.

Miss Roberts didn’t immediately ask me to take the plimsoll back, and I wondered with some trepidation if my silent but fairly obvious exchange of glances with Mary on her return might have qualified me for failure to obey the no communication rule. Fortunately, she decided against to my great relief, I certainly did not want bruises on my bottom that night. I returned the slipper safely to its cupboard, remembering to not slap my hand with it again, especially as it was still tingling from the slipper’s outward journey.