Another seasonal story where the people involved rue their over indulgence.

By Joanna Jones

I remember, as I listened to one of the local vicars giving his ten minute Christmas homily on “Goodwill to all men”, looking at the five pupils sitting at the end of a row with the rest of the Upper Sixth near the back.

Their minds were clearly elsewhere, for they knew that forgiveness and goodwill was highly unlikely to be extended to them this Christmas, at the very least until justice, in the eyes of the Headmaster, had been served.

I could also see, from my vantage point at the end of the second row of teachers on the stage, the Head himself, Mr Brookes, sitting brooding next to the lectern as the parson droned on. He had a copy of the local newspaper folded in his lap.

I also was unable to concentrate much as I thought of the two canes lying on a table out of sight of the pupils off-stage. Why had he chosen me, I wondered, for the umpteenth time since yesterday, Monday, afternoon. Well I suppose choosing a PE teacher was an obvious move, and my senior colleague in the department had long since started marking time to retirement. I suppose also the fact that I was known to be good at badminton and squash, playing for the ladies county team for the latter, was also in his mind.

My mind went back to yesterday. I could remember getting the call to his office. While not in the fear a pupil might be in, it was with a certain amount of ill-defined worry that I had knocked and entered.

“You wanted to see me, Headmaster?” I asked.

He gave a smile like a grimace. “Ah, yes Rosemary. I need your help with a rather unfortunate matter.”

I still had my guard up, wondering what ‘unfortunate matter’ this was and whether I was part of it, though for the life of me I could not see what I might have done that was ‘unfortunate’. I therefore nodded in the pause and waited for him to continue.

“I am afraid there was a bit of trouble as a result of the Christmas sixth form dance. It seems that some illicit alcohol was imported and imbibed during the event.”

He was glowering as he said this and then paused. Wondering whether he had got confused I said: “I was not in attendance, Headmaster. I was on duty for the first to third form party.”

He seemed to come out of his reverie. “Yes, well as a result this morning I had to cane six boys and three girls for their indulgences. However,” he paused to control his clear anger and frustration. “However, five additional merry pupils from our upper sixth partied down to the town after and made a nuisance of themselves there. This included pulling the Christmas tree over as they attempted to climb it.”

“They were arrested for ‘breach of the peace’ and ‘criminal damage’ as a result. The police and their parents want the school to deal with it. Personally I would much prefer them to suffer the court consequences, especially as the local Herald is running the demise of the tree as top news in the weekly rag tomorrow morning. I have just spent half an hour being interviewed by some fool of a reporter on how we allow or don’t allow alcohol at the dance, and why we allow our senior pupils to run amok through the town on a Friday night amongst other things.”

He was starting to redden as he let off steam. Still wondering how this possibly merited my presence in his office. I decided to act as ‘agony aunt’, nodding and making sympathetic noises at the appropriate junctures. At least I personally was not in trouble, though I still had no idea what I was doing in his office.

Mr Brookes continued. “Eight years of building community links and improving the school reputation, destroyed by five tom full idiots in a, a matter of minutes!”

I was concerned as he continued to work himself up. “I expect the headline tomorrow will be something on the line of ‘Grammar school pupils’ drunken rampage topples town Christmas,'” he declared angrily, and I’m supposed to punish them without expelling them, and with their A-level mocks directly after Christmas, suspension is out too.”

I remained quiet as he stood up and paced his office. “So that leaves the cane. In my day a pupil could be whacked a dozen times for this, but after that Labour councillor got on the LEA board we’re limited to six only.”

He was still pacing. “I have got round that though.” He smiled at me grimly. “I am going to give them six tomorrow at assembly for their breach of the peace and criminal damage, and deal with their party drinking with another six first day back in the New Year. That should give them something to think about during the holidays, I think.”

He had then looked at me directly. “So, Rosemary, am I being reasonable?”

My reaction was: since when did the opinion of a junior PE teacher become relevant to determination of such severe school punishments? However, clearly in Mr Brookes fragile state of temperament that was not a good answer. After consideration I confined myself to: “Well they have been very foolish, Headmaster.”

He took that as a ‘yes’.

“Excellent,” he said. “So I expect you now understand why your help is required.”

I was confused. Although a ‘mere’ PE teacher I did not consider myself stupid, but things were not clear at all. Eventually I replied: “I’m sorry, Mr Brookes. Can you be a bit more explicit?”

Finally, seeing my evident confusion he paused, took a breath and sat down. “Sorry Rosemary, it’s been a difficult day. Two of the five are girls and I need a female member of staff to cane them.”

“But you cane girls when necessary already!” I blurted out.

“Yes, on their hands, but that namby pamby Labour councillor got a rule put through about no male staff member caning girls bottoms, it was a sop when she tried to ban all caning of girls. Apparently it was very amusing when one of the Tory councillors asked her how that squared with her sex equality nonsense!”

I hid my irritation as a young female with at least some career ambition as he chuckled to himself and then looked at me expectantly.

Thinking properly, my stomach rather lurched at the prospect of what I thought he wanted me to do. To confirm I asked: “So you need me to give these two sixth form girls a caning on their bottoms at assembly?”

“Not bare,” he said sensing perhaps a little reluctance on my part. “The same Labour councillor also got a one layer of clothing rule through (he rolled his eyes at this point) so they will get to keep their underwear on. Also that woman (no disguising the contempt there) also got public canings banned, so they will be done in one of the changing rooms, just off the hall, to satisfy the rules.”

Though clearly not their spirit I thought as I considered again. A ‘private’ caning in public with, I presume, their skirts off. I was shocked that he was making them all strip to their pants let alone that he would clearly prefer their bare backsides to be whacked. I had some sympathy with this ‘namby pamby’ councillor he so despised.

As I did not respond immediately he decided to be blunt. “Look Rosemary, these five pupils are getting this instead of a criminal record, and/or a worse school sanction such as a suspension during their mock exams. They have behaved appallingly, letting themselves and the school down badly. I intend to make an example of them by giving them each six of the very best now and another six, more normally in January. I need to know if you are prepared to thrash them, and by that I mean thrash them as hard as I require, or whether I should find another female teacher. I appreciate your clear concern, and despite what you may think I would prefer someone who views it that way. Personally, I do not like caning. I view it as a necessary evil, so to speak, and when necessary it needs to be done appropriately. Given the damage and publicity in this case, ‘appropriate’ means as hard and unpleasant as possible, with the maximum awareness to others as a future warning.”

“Very well Headmaster, I will do what you require.”

There I’d said it. Don’t know really why, but as a fairly new teacher I could not really let him down as I saw it.

“However,” I continued. “I have no experience of school punishment, either giving or receiving.”

Standing up he went to his cupboard and yanked out a cane and passed it to me.

“Thanks for agreeing Rosemary, it is not that difficult but you do need to be careful.” He started.

He then gave me some instructions, not to put them all on the same spot, and to be careful not to cane too high, et cetera. On technique he gave me the usual instruction about taking my time and on force he had told me that while normally he moderated the force for the first few, he was planning to go all out from the beginning with the three boys, and expected me to do the same with the two girls.

He had a suggestion specific to my experiences: Imagine a point half to two thirds of the way across the far buttock as your squash ball and you want to hit the ball as hard as you can. Then imagine the tip of the cane is the sweet spot on your racket and then go for it.

I nodded at that. He then asked me to whack an old pillow that he apparently kept in his office if he needed a nap before an evening event. He put it on an arm chair. After a few swishes he pronounced himself well satisfied.

Before leaving he told me the names of the two delinquents: Angela Martin, and Marion Taylor. I raised my eyebrows at the first name. While Marion was always a bit foolish, Angela was a quiet girl. I doubted she’d ever been in detention, let alone slippered or caned.

The Head said: “Apparently, Angela is, perhaps now was,” he grimaced as he said that. “Leonard Wilkins’ girlfriend. I believe he was the ringleader in all of this.”

“A shame.” He continued. “However, she was also the one that was so drunk that she thought being a fairy on the town tree would be a good laugh.”

I nodded as I got the message: No mercy at all was to be shown to either girl.

‘No mercy,’ I considered again as the parson completed his Christmas homily. The music teacher plonked away on the piano as we sang the vicar’s choice: “Joy to the world”.

The irony of the third verse starting ‘No more let sins and sorrows grow’ and then later ‘make his blessings flow’ was not lost on me as the assembly, with various levels of enthusiasm, dutifully sang the carol. Looking along at the grim faced Head I doubt he had anything in his mind but to ‘grow much sorrow’ on the five who had ‘sinned’ most grievously. As for any ‘blessings’ for them they were not flowing from him.

Once the carol was over the Head stood and briefly thanked the vicar. He then took a deep breath and pulled out his newspaper. He read the headline. “Treemolished! Grammar kids run riot in town centre after drunken school party!”. He held up the accompanying picture of the town tree lying on its side. The rest of the highlights he chose to read were no less lurid. He did omit to read the editorial which included some rather critical comments on the school’s leadership, which certainly would not have helped his mood that morning.

He then invited the five on to the stage. They all looked nervous and fearful. Angela looked simply terrified as she stood fidgeting and shaking in her school uniform grey skirt. The recently removed prefect badge was in her case conspicuous by its absence on her blazer lapel. I did note that she ignored Leonard completely and stood at the furthest end away from him. It looked like the consequences of the party did indeed include the break up of whatever relationship they had had.

As I more-or-less expected the Head really worked himself up as he discussed the disgrace of the five pupils in the Upper Sixth as well as getting the other nine he had already caned to stand up. The three girls were clearly mortified at having to do so.

While Marion and the three boys were in trouble often enough not to feel much sympathy for their present plight, I did feel rather sorry for Angela as Mr Brookes ranted on about the embarrassment to the school again and again.

Finally the speech was over with the concluding remark that the ‘foolish five’ (I thought the pupils were all a bit old for Enid Blyton analogies but the Head clearly found his own joke amusing) would soon feel very sorry and that they would have the Christmas to consider the consequences of their actions more fully with a second dose first day back in the New Year.

At his signal the Head Boy escorted the first boy, Leonard as ringleader, off the stage and into one of the two changing rooms off the side of the now silent hall.

The deputy passed a cane to him and gave me the other, identical one. Mr Brookes was walking to the changing room door as the entire assembly heard the Head Boy instructing Leonard to drop his trousers and bend over through the open door. Having been present with the two head prefects as Mr Brookes gave out his instructions before the assembly I knew he would now be checking that there was indeed only one layer covering the target before he acted as a witness to the punishment.

Betty, the Head Girl, would be performing the same duties for Angela and Marion.

The Head briefly gazed out at the assembly before turning into the room flexing the cane in his hands as he did so. The door was remained conspicuously open. While the action was not visible, it was going to be most definitely audible.

The Head said very little, other than: “six strokes” and “stay in position” otherwise he could and would add two extras and have him held down.

There were to be no second chances on this. His order to me was clear: If either girl stands or puts her hand back even once Betty holds her down and two extra (permitted apparently by the rules over and above the six nominally the maximum) are given. Once again – ‘No Mercy’!

I watched the faces of various boys and girls in the assembly as the sounds of the punishment echoed through the hall. Before he started there were some who thought the thing a bit of a joke. However as Leonard’s grunts turned to gasps and yells most faces looked appalled.

Then it was over. The Head Boy escorted him back on to stage in clear agony. He was forced to face the audience and put his hands, previously clamped to his rear, on his head.

The second boy found himself reluctantly escorted to the waiting Headmaster. Once again the school listened to the orders as the hapless young man took his trousers down and got into position. He did not take his punishment as well, as the gasps turned to screams for the last three strokes. Angela had tears silently running down her cheeks in sympathy as a sobbing eighteen year old ‘man’ returned to the stage.

She was not the only one. I noticed a significant minority of the left side of the hall (the girls’ side) were cringing and one or two had joined in Angela’s tears as the awfulness of a serious caning was played out in front of them. This was nothing like the relatively mild looks of pain they might have seen or imagined in ‘The Bash Street Kids’ or other comic story in ‘The Beano’, or whatever.

As the third boy, a little more quietly, went though his agonies my nerves were rising. I gripped the cane in my right hand and wished I’d never agreed to do this.

I was more scared of making a fool of myself than of giving the punishment. It was harsh, but they had all at least elected (or been elected by their no doubt irate parents) to take this as an alternative to worse long term sanctions.

As the Head Boy escorted the last boy out, the Headmaster followed. He was clearly flushed from his exertions.

Now it was my turn. I found myself taking deep breaths as I nervously got ready to act. I suspect my nerves were nothing compared to Marion’s and it was very clear what state of nerves Angela was in! Her eyes were closed and she was silently muttering. She looked like she was praying for either the courage to see this through, or a miracle to rescue her from the awful predicament she was in. I too had been praying for the former for both her and me. I knew of no possible miracle that would save her bottom after all.

As soon as the gasping (but at least dry eyed) boy had joined his two male friends in the line I nodded to Betty.

She chose Marion first, due to the way they were lined up on stage. It took an age for Marion to force herself to move, and I followed slowly behind as she walked nervously to the changing room that was serving as the punishment chamber. I followed leaving the door open once again.

Once inside she looked nervously at Betty and me. I waited to one side as Betty ordered her to strip off her skirt and lower her tights.

Fumbling with the zip and clasp she got her skirt off and then pulled her tights to mid-thigh. I was not surprised to see a pair of navy school knickers, despite not being required for sixth formers. Betty, in a clear voice ordered her to bend over and grab her ankles. Personally I thought Mr Brookes harsh not to have provided a desk or chair, but he was the boss.

Betty had tugged up blouse, fully displaying her pants and after a perfunctory check that she now was benefiting only from the navy blue pair she stood out of the way.

I felt more than a little guilty at what I was now supposed to do, and the manner in which I had been told to do it. Taking my stance I lined the cane up, without actually touching the target, then raised it up slowly. Gritting my teeth I whacked it down as hard as I could on the target.

Thwack! A mild ‘oo-ooh’ escaped Marion’s lips.

I counted to fifteen and aiming slightly higher repeated the process.

Another loud Thwack, this time followed by a gasp.

Thwack, slightly higher again, Marion was doing well as all that I got was another gasp as the pain registered.

For the fourth I aimed to the base of her buttocks and thrashed down another blistering stroke.

That clearly shocked Marion as she gave out an almighty yell and her legs buckled slightly.

She managed to lock them straight before I reminded her.

The next blow landed, once again full force, just above the fourth. It led to a full blooded scream and much moaning and wriggling of the legs as she coped with the harsh caning I’d been ordered to dole out.

Final stroke. I aimed mid to lower half and unleashed another full blooded whack.

Crack, and another loud scream from the girl. However my attention was on the result of the blow on the rod itself.

I was appalled. Whether through a little extra effort or just that the cane was a little old, it had cracked, with the far end now clearly useless, dangling at an odd angle.

As far as I could see, the efficacy as far as Marion was concerned appeared undiminished as she now stood struggling to control herself.

At my signal Betty helped her return her tights and put her skirt on. I meanwhile left guiltily to see the Headmaster.

There were gasps in the hall as I emerged, red-faced with embarrassment, with the broken cane. As I walked towards the headmaster I noticed Angela’s hands on her head slip forward to cover her face.

I could not imagine what she was thinking at that point.

I needed to walk past her on the stage to get to Mr Brookes, who raised his eyebrows took the broken rod and passed me his cane. As I turned to return to the changing room he ordered Angela to stand properly, and then asked one of my colleagues to go and fetch another ‘senior’ cane from the secretary – ‘just in case’.

I doubt any of this helped Angela’s nerves, nor the appearance of Marion walking slowly, clearly in pain, with her hands on her rear, back to the stage. We passed at the bottom of the stage steps and I was impressed that she was dry eyed. I doubted I would have been.

I briefly watched at the entrance to the room as Betty encouraged Angela to her appointment. She must have been lost in her thoughts as she clearly jumped as Betty called her. She was no longer in tears but looked like a caged animal as she looked fearfully around the assembly hall. I suspect all that was holding her together was the fact that the entire school was watching her. However, dutifully she followed Betty towards me. I chose to disappear inside the changing room to wait her arrival.

Once she was inside the changing room she looked fearfully around. Betty took control and, again with much nervous fumbling she removed her skirt and put it on one of the benches that went round the room edge.

She then took her tights down, choosing to lower them all the way to her ankles. Both Betty and I looked at each other in shock. She had on the thinnest, smallest, skimpiest knickers possible, and she’d had great difficulty keeping them up as she’d removed her tights. I could not believe she’d chosen something so utterly inappropriate knowing what was in store for her that morning.

She blushed bright red seeing our astonishment. “My mother….,” she whispered miserably.

I felt even more sorry for her, a normally well behaved girl whose parents had probably over-reacted in shock to her misdeed.

There was no need for Betty to do any checking as it was perfectly obvious that there was nothing else underneath. What she had been forced to wear was doing little more than covering her modesty. And such ‘protection’ as the flimsy garment might provide was only over about half the target area.

More gently than she did Marion, Betty ordered her to bend over and grab her ankles. With a final push of her blouse Betty once again stood back and it was my turn again.

The top of her knickers did not reach more than about two thirds of the way up her buttocks. While in principle there was space to place a stroke above the waist elastic I decided to aim the first blow just below it.

Again lining up carefully an inch or two from the target I raised the weapon and brought it crashing down on the target.

I was surprised, after all the nervous tears on stage, that she took it silently. I knew perhaps that I was holding back ever so slightly, though more sub-consciously, having broken the last cane, as well as feeling sympathy for the poor girl in front of me.

Aiming slightly below the second I dealt out a second line of pain, getting a small gasp.

The third was slightly lower again and she gave a small wail as the tip landed on bare flesh, due to the cut of those minimalist panties. I watched the mark redden as I mentally paused before lining up stroke four. The last half were all going to be in effect at least part bare bottomed.

As I did with Marion I cracked the fourth stroke on the base of her buttocks. In her case this was basically a bare target.

For the first time she screamed and started to desperately wriggle as I landed the cut hard where she would sit. The line rapidly reddened as the flesh reacted to the impact.

She was clearly struggling with the effects after that blow and I silently willed her to stay in position as I took aim, again essentially on bare flesh again directly above the angry red line I’d already created.

The fifth crack lead to an ear splitting yell as she threw her head back in agony, her shoulder length fair hair flying as she did so. Briefly her hands left her ankles as she wriggled her hips to cope. However, though now moaning and sobbing she gripped them again quickly. She still had enough awareness to avoid the extra punishment that standing would have led to.

I left her to wriggle for about half a minute before finally ordering her to keep her bottom still if she did not want extra.

Taking audibly deep breaths she locked her legs straight and waited, still moaning with tears falling.

Two angry lines were on her buttocks as I lined up the last stroke above them, in a band where the creamy flesh of her buttocks was visible on either side of the thin undergarment.

Crack! Full force again on target. Another scream coupled with sobs as she stood, her hands going of course to the afflicted area, fingers probing the damage I’d had to inflict.

After a couple of minutes Betty helped her lever her tights up and then put her skirt on. Finally she could stagger out, tear-stained to join her four partners in crime.

I found myself shaking as the adrenalin in me receded during the Head’s final lecture to the assembly.

Once the rest of the pupils had been dismissed he allowed his ‘foolish five’ to drop their hands and reminded them of their appointment in either his office or my gymnasium for the same again directly after registration on the first day back. The five faces all looked miserable at the prospect as they clutched their bottoms and slowly made their way out to the common room or classes.

After the Headmaster thanked me for my efforts and noted as he fingered the broken rod in his hands that I clearly had understood his instructions and performed them ‘admirably’. He also then asked me if I would be prepared to deal with any other girls he felt required such a punishment in future.

I had now done it once, and had little option to accept.

POSTSCRIPT

Over Christmas I wondered a number of times about the two girls due in my office on the first day back. I was glad that a very sore bottom with the prospect of a second caning to come had never blighted my festivities, let alone my ability to revise for the examinations due then also.

Monday nearly three weeks later Marion and Angela knocked nervously on my door together. I sent them to the empty changing rooms to remove their skirts and tights and told them to wait, barefoot, in the gym.

After a few minutes, taking one of the canes that I had, seemingly now permanently acquired, I found them waiting nervously in their blouses and knickers, both undergarments were as they’d worn before Christmas. Poor Angela had clearly not persuaded her mother to be more lenient.

In her case the marks from the previous caning were still ever so faintly visible as I whipped the stick six more times as she bent over gripping a gym bench for support. Although complying with the Head’s instruction to be firm I made an effort to not deliberately hit directly on top of those previous lines, though I suspect it made little difference after so much time had elapsed

She gasped, grunted and moaned but managed to keep herself well together for her second caning.

In Marion’s case, only a hint of a mark where the lowest stroke had previously landed was visible below her knicker elastic as she received the second half of her punishment. She too took it remarkably well with gasps and groans, but again no tears.

There was clearly a bond between them as they left. They both seemed to take an inordinately long time to change back, leading me to eventually check they were okay. They jumped guiltily as I entered, seeing Angela, now dressed, clearly massaging cream gently into Marion’s bottom, where the results of my efforts were all too visible. Sympathetically I told them not to worry but not to take too much longer.

Over the next few years I received quite a few nervous girls knocking tentatively with notes from the headmaster. While I performed the duty as requested I never really felt it should be necessary to inflict such pain, and was quite happy when his successor took a much more restrained view, thus bringing my caning days to an end.

The End