A prefect is slippered for the last time
Diana had not mentioned the incident she related that evening to anyone in ten years, certainly not to her husband. She definitely had no intention of doing so when they arrived at Millington House for a dinner party with Sir Peter and his beautiful fiancée, Alicia, in the spring of 1987.
Nigel and Diana Brown were a lovely couple. 40-year-old Nigel stood 6’3” tall and was, as befits a former rugby player, substantially built. Smartly dressed in jacket and tie, he had worked with Peter for five years as his Finance Director. Nigel and Diana, a young history teacher who had recently celebrated her 29th Birthday, had been married for three years, having first met at a fund-raising event for the Victoria and Albert museum.
That evening the 5’6” tall curvy brunette, with her light brown hair worn loose to her shoulders, had paired an elegant high-necked blouse in white silk with an attractive sea-green pleated skirt and white stockings. Her lovely face was enhanced by her glasses which gave her both a studious and vulnerable look.
The two couples greeted each other warmly, as Nigel and Diana congratulated Alicia and Peter on their engagement. They were shown into the lounge where the fire was lit. The connecting doors opened into the dining room, with the table already laid and lit with candles. Drinks were served and the two couples relaxed. The meal itself was excellent, conversation sparkled like the candlelight on the crystal glasses and flowed like the carefully chosen wines.
After the meal they returned to the lounge for coffee and brandy. Nigel and Diana shared the news that they would also be looking at making changes in their lives.
It came as a surprise when Diana announced she had applied for the position of Head of History at a girls’ boarding school in Devon, rather than the similar position at her current mixed grammar school which was also available. Diana announced she had been shortlisted, and was to have a final interview at St Hilda’s the following Friday afternoon.
Alicia asked why Diana had decided on a change of school, as she had appeared to be reasonably happy when they last met at the start of that school year.
Diana confessed that during the last year the discipline in her school, formerly a strong point, had significantly worsened. She put this down to the final abolition of corporal punishment in the state sector after a change in the law the previous year.
Although it had been used very sparingly, the cane and, to an extent, the slipper had remained the ultimate deterrent and a last chance for pupils who would otherwise have faced expulsion; moreover, the pupils knew that it was neither a soft option nor an idle threat. With that option removed, respect for school rules, and for authority in general, had reduced and some previously well-behaved pupils had been led astray.
Diana told the story of a particularly talented 18-year-old young lady in her ‘A’ level class who had been found kissing her boyfriend behind the changing rooms; both had also been smoking. Although neither had been in trouble before, and their conduct could have previously earned them each merely a sore bottom, both were suspended for four weeks in the run-up to their exams, with the result that neither got the grades they needed for university, and both had to re-sit during the autumn term.
Since the previous September, there had also been six pupils expelled during their final year in school, of whom Diana felt the ultimate sanction would, under the previous regime, have been necessary in, at most, two cases, and that therefore four young lives risked being ruined.
With a quick glance at Nigel, Peter asked, smiling, “Diana, would your support for corporal punishment be based on personal experience of its effectiveness?”
The pretty brunette blushed, “Well actually, not really. I was a naturally compliant child and tended to keep out of trouble. I was also afraid of getting the slipper or the cane and went out of my way to keep the teachers and the prefects happy.
“My parents, who were both in the forces, must have spanked me a few times when I was younger, but not once I became a teenager. Daddy or Mummy merely raising their eyebrows, quietly using my middle name, or looking at me with disappointment was usually enough.”
“So, you have never actually been slippered or caned then?” added Alicia. “So, surely that defeats your argument?”
“Not really, as it was always at the back of my mind that it could happen if I deserved it, and so I made sure I did nothing to earn it.” Diana replied, before dropping the bombshell as she continued. “Anyway, I was actually slippered once at school, by all the prefects.”
“Really, darling?” added Nigel. This was news to him. “What on earth did you do?”
“Well, Ok, I’ll tell you.” Her mind went back to the events of eleven years previously at her all-girls boarding school.
It had started a week before the end of the summer term, with Diana in the Lower Sixth, when she had been asked to see the Headmaster after lunch. Diana was confident that she had done nothing wrong but was, all the same, slightly apprehensive. Knocking at the solid oak door, the plaque on which read: ‘Dr A H C Ponsonby D.Ed. Headmaster’.
Diana was bidden to enter.
She found Josephine Johnstone, the Head Girl, who all the girls knew as ‘Jo-Jo’, already there seated in one of two comfortable armchairs.
Gesturing to the other empty chair, Archibald Ponsonby spoke. “Diana, please take a seat. I have some news for you. I have been in discussion with Josephine, as Head Girl, and with the heads of department and housemistresses, and we have decided that you should be Head Girl next term.”
This came as a surprise to the pretty, bespectacled, 18-year-old, as she honestly had not believed she was in the running for either the Head Girl or Deputy, although she did quietly hope she might make prefect.
“Your disciplinary, academic and sporting record speaks for itself, and I intend therefore that you be promoted to prefect with immediate effect. I would like you to accompany Josephine for the next week to learn the ropes, and would also like you to agree with her who should be the next Deputy Head Girl and recommend six other prefect appointments for my approval, together with your reasons, from amongst those on this list.”
Getting to his feet, at which point the two young ladies also stood, the Headmaster walked around the front of the desk and handed Diana a sheet of paper with a list of a dozen names. He then pinned the burgundy and gold prefects’ badge to the left lapel of Diana’s blazer.
“Congratulations, Diana. This appointment is well deserved and gives me great pleasure. I need your list by Thursday so I can announce the new appointments at the end of year prize giving.”
Jo-Jo and Diana got on well, with the latter soon learning both the duties and privileges that came with her new and her future roles. The choice of a Deputy was easy and they also immediately agreed on three of the other appointments, although the last three took a great deal of discussion and careful consideration. The two girls, together, handed the list in to the headmaster the day before the end of term; they were delighted when he looked at the list and immediately agreed with their choices, pulling out an identical list of his own preferences.
On the morning of the last day of term, Diana was taking a walk around the grounds with Jo-Jo. It was warm but windy, and they were about to make their way back to the prefects’ room for a self-study period before lunch. After lunch would be the final assembly and prize-giving, to which some parents had been invited, including Diana’s father, at which the list of new prefects would also be announced.
Diana and Jo-Jo stopped to talk to a couple of girls who were obviously trying to skip the last lesson and Diana managed to get them to return to class, Jo-Jo reminding them that prefects, Diana included, could give up to three strokes with the slipper. The school rules also stipulated that all teachers could give up to a dozen with the slipper and, of course, the Headmaster and Deputy Head could give up to eight strokes of the cane.
The two young ladies were walking quickly towards the main building; running was prohibited, except during games or PE, having been deemed both unladylike and dangerous. Diana took a ‘Twix’ chocolate bar from her bag and shared it with Jo-Jo, at which point the wind caught the wrapper and blew it out of Diana’s hand.
Jo-Jo laughed. “Tut-tut, Diana; littering! You had better pick that up and bring it to me if you don’t want to have the slipper yourself, and don’t dawdle as you need to be in the common room before the bell.”
Without pausing in her stride, Jo-Jo continued as Diana turned and chased the gold and red wrapper.
She had just reached the wrapper and bent to pick it up when a gust took it through the bars of a storm drain. It also lifted the back of her skirt, exposing her white lace panties. Sighing, Diana smoothed down her skirt, turned back towards the main building, and quickened her stride. As she approached the entrance, the bell started to ring. With thirty seconds to reach the common room, the lovely brunette broke into a run.
Coming around the corner Diana, literally ran into the headmaster.
“So sorry, sir!”
“Diana,” the head said softly. “You know running is not permitted. As it is the last day of term, I will be lenient; go and ask Jo-Jo to give you three strokes with the slipper.”
“Yes sir, thank you sir.”
‘Oh, well,’ she thought to herself. ‘At least I will know what it is like, and maybe Jo-Jo will go easy on me.’
The bell stopped ringing just before she opened the door. When she did so, Jo-Jo, her deputy Moira, and the other six prefects looked up.
Moira was first to speak. “Diana, you’re late. That’s two strokes of the slipper.”
Diana was shocked. “Please, no! You can’t be serious!”
Then Jo-Jo held out her hand. “The Twix wrapper, please, or that is three more for littering.”
Diana tried to explain. “But Jo-Jo, I don’t have it. The wind blew it down the drain.”
“That’s still littering! So now we are up to five strokes.”
“Well, actually no, Jo-Jo. That would make it eight, as the Headmaster has just caught me running and I am to ask you for three strokes of the slipper.”
Jo-Jo smiled. “Diana, I don’t think you have ever had the slipper before, in all the time you have been here at Saint Bridget’s, have you?”
“No, Jo-Jo. Somehow I have managed to keep out of trouble for six years.”
Moira interrupted. “Or at least avoided getting caught, goody two-shoes!”
“Maybe,” continued Diana. “Ironic, then, that on the day that I am to be confirmed as Head Girl, I have earned myself no fewer than eight strokes for three separate offences in a period of five minutes. I do hope you are not going to be too hard on me.”
Moira grinned. “We’ll see. At least you will know what it feels like when you either slipper someone yourself next term or send them to be punished.”
Jo-Jo intervened. “There are, however, a couple of practical issues. A prefect may only administer three strokes to a pupil for a single offence and cannot give more than three strokes to a single pupil each day. In any case, this is the last day of term and, apart from Diana, none of us will be here next term. If I were, therefore, to give Diana the three for running, as the headmaster requested, and Moira the two for lateness that she awarded, we would still need someone to administer the three for littering.”
“You could always tell Diana to give those three to herself!” suggested Moira. “She is a prefect and there is nothing in the rules to prevent it. It would be fun to watch her bend over and slipper her own bottom.”
“I have a better idea, if you all agree,” replied Jo-Jo. “Diana has earned, or at least been awarded, eight strokes.”
Diana thought, briefly, that Jo-Jo might be going to reduce her punishment, but was soon disabused of this notion as she continued.
“There are eight of us here. Why don’t we therefore each welcome Diana into her new role by giving her one stroke each?”
This suggestion found favour with all, although Diana hoped that at least some of the girls might be inclined to go easy on her. The pretty brunette knew she deserved the three strokes for running, awarded by the headmaster, which could easily have been six with the slipper or even two with the cane from Dr Ponsonby himself. With respect to the other two, so-called, offences she considered the punishments awarded to her to have been excessive, with neither really deserving punishment at all. At most, a single stroke for the so called ‘lateness’, and certainly no more than one for the accidental littering had, in her opinion, been merited.
Diana realised, however, that any objection she made would be useless and would only undermine her reputation with the others. She must, therefore, put on as brave a face as possible and hope she did not disgrace herself by making too much fuss.
As the others thought it was all a really good idea and a bit of fun, Jo-Jo announced the decision and said; “OK, all agreed? Good, please bend over, Diana, and let’s get this over with.”
Resigned, the pretty teenager bent and touched her toes, and Moira flipped up her skirt, remarking; “As you are getting eight, I suppose we can ignore the non-uniform panties.” She then got the others to form a line before picking up the size 12 plimsoll and walking back to the end of the room. As Diana looked straight ahead, she heard running feet and then felt the slipper impact with her bottom.
The sting was worse than she had ever imagined. Through blurry eyes, her glasses had fallen off and her eyes were filling with tears. She saw Moira pass the slipper to the next in line and the process started again.
Most of the others followed Moira’s example, as each girl had only a single stroke to administer and did not want to be seen to be slacking in their duty. All, except Jo-Jo, therefore, used their single opportunity to administer a genuine stinging stroke to Diana’s perfectly presented posterior. The future Head Girl took the first three strokes without any vocal reaction, although tears had begun to flow. Each subsequent stroke drew a series of ‘ohs’ and ‘ouches’ from the pretty recipient, gradually increasing in volume, although Diana determinedly remained in position.
Jo-Jo, by contrast, merely tapped the slipper on the shapely bottom for the final stroke, at which Diana looked round in surprise. Having picked up Diana’s glasses, Jo-Jo handed them to her and invited her to stand. As she did so, tears were running down Diana’s pretty face and she was rubbing her bottom.
Jo-Jo put her arms around her friend, who forced a smile. “All over now, I am sorry it was such an ordeal for you.”
“That’s alright, Jo-Jo, no hard feelings and thank you all. As Moira said, I at least know what those girls I send for punishment will be going through. What you don’t know is that you have administered the last punishment ever by prefects at St Bridget’s. Nigella, who will be my deputy next year, and I discussed the matter yesterday. Neither of us feels that it is right for prefects to slipper other pupils. We both believe in corporal punishment but just feel that it should be administered by teachers when necessary. We both went to Dr Ponsonby this morning and he actually agreed with us, he just did not want to be the one who broke with tradition. From next term prefects will have a book of punishment slips and will send girls to their form teacher for the slipper instead. The form teacher will then be able to administer the punishment, reducing or increasing it if they feel necessary; Dr Ponsonby will announce the change to the school rules this afternoon. Congratulations, ladies, this morning you have made history.”
A now smiling Diana, still rubbing her bottom, was surrounded by her fellow prefects who embraced her in turn. Together, they counted down the minutes to lunch. Sitting together, Diana still less than comfortably, they shared their last meal together at St Bridget’s, but promised to keep in touch.
That afternoon ‘Daddy’, known to everyone else as Lt General Sir Arthur Ashford, was beaming with pride as he watched his daughter collecting several awards before her appointment and that of the other new prefects was announced and they joined her on stage. The observant soldier noticed that Diana was sitting uncomfortably and determined to discover the reason, once they were alone.
The Headmaster then concluded; “I have one final announcement to make. Following a request from the new Head Girl and her deputy, with which I have agreed, the privilege given to prefects to administer limited corporal punishment to their fellow students no longer applies.”
There was brief applause from the girls before Dr Ponsonby held up his hand for silence and continued; “To ensure prefects’ continuing authority is respected, the prefect concerned will instead issue the miscreant with a note, containing the offence and the recommended number of strokes, to take to their form teacher to administer. The school rules will be rewritten to that effect before next term. So now, ladies, I wish you all a very enjoyable summer holiday, and for those of you leaving us, success in your future lives. I will be following your achievements with interest.”
In the car on the way back, Daddy had asked Diana why she had been punished and laughed when she, now smiling, related the whole story, the last time she had done so before that evening.
Her beloved father had chuckled. “My poor darling, wrong place wrong time. Still, some good has come from it, and you will be pleased to know that I see no need whatsoever either to punish you myself or to tell your mother.”
Diana explained to Peter and Alicia that she and Josephine had kept in touch. After completing university and teacher training, Jo-Jo had returned to St Bridget’s to teach History and Economics, her nickname resurfacing with both fellow teachers and, behind her back, many of the pupils, as a form of endearment.
Completing her story, Diana went on. “I subsequently had a successful last year as Head Girl and stayed out of trouble, although during that time I sent about a dozen girls to their form teachers for the slipper and discussed two other cases with the headmaster. I never did get the caning that I might have received that day, and still at times wonder what it would feel like, but I have retained a healthy respect for discipline and in particular for corporal punishment, hence my desire to work in private schools in future.”
Nigel was first to respond. “Well, my darling, you are full of surprises. What a remarkable story!”
Discussion then reverted to other subjects as Peter continued; “I do hope Diana gets the job she wants and we will find a way of you working remotely from Devon in the same way as I do. You and Diana can stay with us when you are both in Devon until you find something. Think about it; it will be great for the girls to spend time together as I am sure they will become close friends.”
It was approaching 11.00 pm when Nigel first suggested that it was time for them to go.
“Or you can always stay the night,” suggested Peter.
Diana replied, looking at Nigel; “I would normally be delighted, but then I would not have the 4th form’s homework to hand back, and I don’t want to be a naughty teacher!”
Nigel replied smiling; “That’s quite enough of that, young lady. Thank you both for a lovely evening and now it is time we were getting home. Will someone call me a taxi, please?”
“You’re a taxi!” replied the two young ladies in unison.
“Incorrigible, totally incorrigible!” responded Peter, standing next to his beloved and playfully raising his right hand.
“But isn’t that why we love them so much?” exclaimed Nigel.
© Capstan 2020