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 bounced off the tiles undamaged.

“Mum bought it today at the market. She says it’s because I’m so clumsy and always breaking things.”

“Wow!” I said. “That’s really great.”

“Yes, isn’t it?” she said. “Do you want a go?”

I felt a tingle of nervousness as I held the cup at arm’s length and thought of the trouble I would be in if it broke. But I couldn’t resist trying it, so I did as she had done and again marvelled at the cup bouncing away unharmed.

We laughed delightedly and Lisa took the game to the next level, literally, by climbing onto a chair and dropping it from a greater height, from which it bounced a little higher and was still undamaged on inspection.

I applauded wildly and insisted on repeating her experiment, with the same impressive results. Lisa, who was loving the attention, decided to show off some more and threw the cup as hard as she could at the wall.

The impact was hard enough to break the unbreakable cup into several pieces and also to leave a large dent in the wall where the force had cracked the plaster. A little pile of paint flakes and plaster crumbs lay on the floor, along with the remains of the cup.

As we stared in horror at the scene of destruction, Lisa’s mum entered the room to see what all the noise was about. Without a word, she turned and left the kitchen, returning moments later with a hairbrush. It was made from one solid piece of some kind of hardwood, about half an inch thick, five inches wide and ten inches long including the handle, which was about four inches. I knew that when Lisa got spanked by her mum it was with a hairbrush, but I had never previously seen it in action.

Lisa pleaded with her mum not to spank her, blaming the manufacturers for making false claims, but her pleas were ignored as her mum pulled out a dining chair, sat down and hauled Lisa across her lap. I looked on, fascinated and a little embarrassed, as her shorts were pulled down, swiftly followed by her pants.

“I have always believed this hairbrush, which used to belong to your grandmother, to be unbreakable,” her mum said. “At least, she never managed to break it, no matter how hard she hit us with it. But as you seem so keen to find the breaking point of everything, we shall see if your bottom can succeed where my mine never could.”

She then proceeded to smack Lisa’s bare bottom as hard as she possibly could. Lisa howled and bawled at each stinging smack, but her mum showed no signs of pity and I am quite certain that she intended to keep spanking until she succeeded in breaking the hairbrush. But, it proved to be very durable and eventually, after several minutes and dozens of smacks, she stopped the punishment, presumably because her arm was aching too much to continue.

Lisa lay sobbing across her mum’s lap, her bottom and the top of her thighs a deep purple.

“Have you got anything to say for yourself?” her mum asked her.

“I’m-I’m sorry,” Lisa whimpered between sobs and sniffles.

“So you should be. And what about you?” she said looking across at me.

“Me?” I said, uncertainly. “What about me?”

“You must have played your part in this. Do you think it’s fair that Lisa should get a spanking and you should go unpunished, or are you going to come over here and get the same? It’s your choice.”

I hadn’t even thought about it, but when she said it I could see her point. However, I could also see Lisa’s bruised bottom and I certainly didn’t want the same.

“I didn’t break anything,” I protested.

Lisa’s mum stared at me in silence for a long moment, then sighed.

“You’d better get off home then, because Lisa is going straight to bed. Not that I could have given you much of a spanking anyway, after all that exertion with my daughter. I hope, when you are sitting comfortably at home later, your conscience doesn’t bother you too much.”

I left the house and walked home, annoyed by her words. My conscience was clear. It wasn’t my fault that Lisa got carried away and broke the cup, even if I didn’t try to stop her. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t feel guilty at all, but Lisa’s mum’s suggestion made me feel slightly ashamed when I thought of poor Lisa lying on her bed on her tummy, unable to sit down, flinching every time anything touched her bottom.

“You’re early,” my mum said. “I thought you were going to watch Top of the Pops.”

“We were, but Lisa broke something and got sent to bed early. You know how clumsy she is.”

I omitted any mention of the spanking. I didn’t want my mum to be inquisitive about exactly what had gone on.

I knew there was no chance of getting my dad to put Top of the Pops on so I went to my room to listen to some records. A little while later, I heard the telephone ring. It was in the hall at the bottom of the stairs and as I was in the middle of changing the record and had no music on I could hear my mum’s voice when she answered.

“Yes? Oh, hello Rita.”

My heart skipped a beat. Rita was Lisa’s mum. I couldn’t hear what she said, but my mum’s side of the conversation went something like this.

“Yes, she’s home. No. Well, she told me Lisa had been sent to bed early but, no. No, she didn’t tell me that. No, she didn’t tell me that either. No. Really? Ok, thank you for letting me know. Yes. Oh, she will be, don’t you worry. Yes. Oh yes, definitely. I will. Goodbye.

Mum hung up and went back into the living room. I could hear her talking to Dad but I couldn’t tell what she was saying. I could guess though. A few minutes later, I heard the door of the cupboard in the hall, the cupboard in which my parents kept the slipper they used to punish us with, open and close and then Dad’s footsteps on the stairs.

He came into my room and I saw, as I knew I would, that he was holding the slipper.

We had a ‘discussion’ in which he told me why I was going to be punished. I pleaded my innocence, but he had already agreed with my mum and Lisa’s that I must share some of the blame, and no amount of pleading was going to save me. He sat down on my bed and pulled me over his knee, pulled up the hem of my skirt, and pulled down my pants. He then gave me a very long and hard spanking on my bare bottom with the leather slipper, which of course, was never in danger of breaking before he had finished.

When he had gone back downstairs, I examined my bottom in the mirror. It looked as sore as it felt, though it was not as livid as Lisa’s. I could only imagine how she must be feeling as her spanking had clearly been more painful than mine. It didn’t stop her being clumsy, though, and it wasn’t long before her next encounter with the hairbrush.

We are still friends to this day, almost fifty years later, and she now has that hairbrush, still unbroken, and has used it many times on her own children, but as parenting techniques have changed so dramatically since our childhood, only to brush their hair!