A journalist investigates attitudes to corporal punishment.
My name is Claire Cooper. I am a retired journalist, and I was browsing through some early papers from my career when I chanced to come upon an interview I did as a trainee back in the early sixties. The magazine I worked for was doing a series of interviews on ‘ordinary family life’. I was sent to interview a lady who had agreed to talk about her experiences and her views on corporal punishment or ‘a smacked bottom’ as it was referred to in those days. As you can imagine, I was very nervous as this was one of my first assignments. This is the transcript.
Claire: Thank you for being prepared to talk about this subject, Mrs Fortune. May I ask you to tell us a little about yourself?
Diana: My name is Diana Fortune; I’m married to David, and we have two children, Michael, aged sixteen and Susan, aged fourteen.
Claire: And, as you have agreed to this interview, I assume that you use corporal punishment on your children?
Diana: Oh yes, very much so. Both my husband and myself believe firmly in the old saying, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’.
Claire: That’s a good way to start. Do you use a ‘rod’ of any sort?
Diana: No, we use a slipper, one of David’s old plastic-soled ones.
Claire: May I see it?
Diana: Yes, of course.
Mrs Fortune then went off, brought the slipper back and handed it to me. I smacked it on my hand a couple of times, quite hard.
Claire: I imagine it stings quite badly.
Diana: Oh believe me, it does. Their bottoms are quite sore when they stand up.
Claire: That leads me to my next question; how do you position them for the slipper, over your knee?
Diana: They are slippered in private in their bedroom, so it’s bending over the end of the bed.
Claire: I see. And what would they be wearing at the time?
Diana: It would depend on what time of day it was. During the day, it would be over their pants. If it’s after the evening meal, then it’s over nightie or pyjamas. If they have been really naughty, then it’s bare bottom time.
Claire: Bare bottom. Does that happen very often?
Diana: Not really, I suppose about twenty five percent of the time.
Claire: Presumably, then, you get a lot more reaction on those occasions?
Diana: We certainly do. Tears always result from that.
Claire: Even Michael, at his age?
Diana: Oh yes.
Claire: You say we, does your husband discipline them very often?
Diana: He does his share; but of course it’s usually me, as I’m here more than him. He tends to do the evening session.
Claire: I’d like to get a little personal if I may. Were you disciplined in this way as a child? Diana (Smiling): Oh yes.
Claire: May I press you further on this point?
Diana: Yes, no holds barred.
Claire: Excellent. The obvious question then; how were you punished?
Diana: I tasted my mum’s hairbrush, over her lap.
Claire: Bare bottom, by any chance?
Claire: And of course it hurt?
Diana: Like nothing you can imagine. My mum was a strict disciplinarian and believed that if you got a smacked bottom, you wouldn’t forget it in a hurry. She actually put Susan over her lap last year and roasted her bottom for being rude. She’s behaved perfectly since.
Claire: She sounds quite a woman.
Diana: She is, after all she had six children to bring up, two girls and four boys.
Claire: What happened to the boys, same punishment?
Diana: Oh dear me no. It was six of the best with a cane, more sometimes.
Claire: Really, so canes were available for mothers in those days?
Diana: Yes, you could buy them at the hardware store down the road. One of us was sent to buy one when the old one wore out, which it did quite often. They didn’t seem to last very long until someone told mum to soak it in water to keep it supple. I took my turn to buy one.
Claire: How did you feel about that?
Diana: Embarrassed, as you can imagine. They were never wrapped up so you just had to walk along holding it and everybody could see what you’d got. We used to get remarks from the women like ‘just going to get your six, dear?’ or things like that.
Claire: How fascinating. A different world. I don’t suppose you can buy canes now?
Diana: I’ve never heard of it. But I suppose it’s still possible in some places.
Claire: You’ve never wanted to give your Susan the same as what you got?
Diana: I did consider it, but we both agreed on the form of punishment and settled for the slipper.
Claire: And you’ve always used a slipper, even when they were young?
Diana: Oh no. When they were small, we would smack the back of their legs quite hard.
Claire: Yes, I can remember that, especially from school.
Diana: I think we all did.
Claire: Perhaps I could explore that point. Are your two subject to corporal punishment at school?
Diana: They are.
Claire: How do you feel about that?
Diana: I’m all in favour. If they break the rules, they must accept the consequences.
Claire: And they are?
Diana: The cane or the slipper.
Claire: Do they tell you if they have been caned or slippered?
Diana: Not very often. I did find out once when David went for a bath one night. I caught a glimpse of his bare bottom; it had four dark lines across it.
Claire: Did you say anything?
Diana (Laughing): Who’s been a naughty boy then?
Claire: What was his reaction?
Diana: He went red with embarrassment and shut the bathroom door.
Claire: What about Susan?
Diana: I knew a couple of times that she’d had the cane on her hands, she was having a job to hold her knife and fork at a meal.
Claire: Finally, may I ask you about your schooldays. What sort of school did you go to?
Diana: I went to a strict convent school run by nuns.
Claire: Would you mind telling me about it.
Diana: I will, but memories of punishments are not happy ones.
Claire: Oh dear, would you rather not?
Diana: No, no, it’s fine; it’s all water under the bridge now. We were punished with the strap. All the nuns had these thick dark brown straps, split in two at the end. Believe me, when you got one of those across your hand, you knew it. They would give you anything up to six on each hand. I had that only once. My hands swelled up and I was in agony for the rest of the lesson. I couldn’t write for the rest of the school day. They just throbbed and throbbed. I just kept crying on and off, for the rest of the day.
Claire: Something tells me that they might have enjoyed it?
Diana: Oh, believe me, some did, you could see the look in their eyes. They couldn’t wait to pick up that strap, least little excuse.
Claire: They weren’t all like that surely?
Diana: Oh no, some were lovely, only used the strap when they had no option.
Claire: Did their age make a difference?
Diana: Not really; on balance I think the young ones were the worse. They were fitter and could bring it down harder, and believe you me, they did. On the other hand, we had one dear old nun who could barely lift the strap, let alone make it hurt.
We both laughed at this.
Claire: I nearly forgot. What about your husband, does he come from a corporal punishment environment.
Diana: Funnily enough, no. He was never smacked at home although he did get the cane at school a couple of times, at least that’s what he’s told me. I suppose I have to believe him.
Claire: Well, thank you Mrs Fortune for being so frank and honest. It’s been a pleasure meeting you.
Diana: Not at all.
What isn’t written here is what happened next. I asked Mrs Fortune if she would give me a whack with her slipper. I explained that I’d never had the slipper or the cane at school and I wanted to know what it felt like. She seemed a bit surprised but agreed. She picked up the slipper and told me to bend over, which I did. I asked her if she was going to pull my skirt up and she said she wasn’t, so I told her to. She asked me if I didn’t mind her seeing my underwear and I said it didn’t bother me. Then she gave me a really hard whack, which nearly took my breath away. She was right, that slipper hurt like hell. I got up, thanked her and then left. All the way back to the office, I kept trying to imagine what those two kids felt like after a real slippering. I don’t think it would have taken long for me to start crying.
After my visit to Mrs Fortune, I couldn’t stop thinking about my whack with the slipper. Mrs Fortune, I estimated, could be old enough to be my mother and I couldn’t get the thought of a motherly slippering from this woman out of my head. She came across as a nice but firm mother, and I kept imagining myself as her daughter. Finally, I plucked up courage and picked up the phone. I made some pathetic excuse about wanting to clarify one or two points from the interview. Mrs Fortune was only too happy to see me again. I arrived full of trepidation and my hand was shaking as I rang the doorbell. The door opened and Mrs Fortune welcomed me warmly.
“Do come through to the lounge,” she said.
It was a cold winter’s afternoon and so Mrs Fortune took my coat and hung it in the hall. I went through to the lounge where there was a roaring coal fire and I could feel the heat as I sat down in an armchair beside the fire; Mrs Fortune sitting on the opposite side. I couldn’t help noticing how severely she was dressed. She had a navy blue straight dress with a necklace. She was wearing dark brown stockings; tights still being a couple of years away, and a pair of dark carpet slippers. I felt I was in the presence of a headmistress or someone of similar authority.
“How may I help you dear?” She asked in a matter of fact way.
I was suddenly tongue-tied. The words just wouldn’t come. “Um, I, er.” I felt my face colouring up with embarrassment. “I just want to say thank you for seeing me again,” I mumbled, playing for time.”
She smiled at me. “What is it that you need to ask me?”
“Oh dear, I don’t quite know how to put this,”
“Let me put you out of your misery. You want to ask me about giving you the slipper, don’t you?” She said in a kindly sort of way.
I think she was trying to be motherly, in view of my age of nineteen.
“How did you guess?” I blurted out.
She smiled that kindly smile of hers.
“I could tell by your manner that you enjoyed it,” she said.
Suddenly I felt all the tension within me disappear. She wasn’t going to throw me out.
“Oh dear,” I replied. “Was it that obvious?”
“Not entirely, but I have heard about people who enjoy being punished, and who like to punish. It was a guess, but you wouldn’t have asked if you hadn’t wanted it. Then when you asked to come back, it more or less confirmed my suspicions,” said Mrs Fortune.
Suddenly I panicked. “You won’t tell my employers about this will you?”
Mrs Fortune leaned forward and put her hand on my knee. “Your little secret is safe with me.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you so much, I feel so embarrassed. I think perhaps I should go.”
“Nonsense, I won’t hear of it. I think I should make a nice strong cup of tea to steady your nerves,” said Mrs Fortune, getting up from her chair.
Yes please,” I replied.
I looked down and realised that my hands were trembling and my legs were going up and down quickly.
“A nice piece of homemade cake as well?” She asked.
“Yes please,” I replied.
She went off to the kitchen and while she was gone, I tried to calm down. Suddenly I realised she would be quite happy to give me a slippering. Then she returned with the tea and cake and handed it to me.
“There we are, that should make you feel better,” she said warmly.
“Thank you ever so much.”
“Now then, is it a full slippering that you’re after?”
I nodded, having just taken a big bite of her delicious looking cake.
“Take your time over the tea and cake and then I’ll see what I can do for you.”
I munched away at my cake. “May I ask you something?” I said nervously.
“Of course dear, ask away.”
“Did you dress like that specially for my visit?”
“Ah, you’re getting as observant as I am,” she laughed. “Yes I did.”
“You look so much like a headmistress,” I said.
“Thank you, I’ll take that as a compliment.”
We both finally finished our tea and cake.
“So, young lady, down to business. What exactly did you want me to do?”
“I want you to give me the slipper just like you do to your daughter,” I said trying to sound brave.
Mrs Fortune shook her head. “Not the first time dear, it will hurt too much.”
“But your daughter takes it. It must hurt her just as much?” I protested.
“Oh believe me it does. But she has no choice but to take it. It’s punishment. It’s something entirely different for someone having it voluntarily. Also, I don’t want to cause you too much pain and discomfort.
“So what do you suggest?” I asked.
“I think for a first time, a good old school six of the best should satisfy you,” explained Mrs Fortune.
“If you think so,” I replied, not wishing to annoy her.
“I’ll fetch the slipper then,” said Mrs Fortune. She disappeared from the room and returned with the slipper, which I instantly recognized. A thrill of excitement ran through my body.
I stood up as she entered the room, a forbidding sight in her attire and slipper in hand.
“Now, Miss Cooper, shall we try it?”
“In that case, come here and bend over.”
I stepped forward, my heart pounding, and bent right over, holding my ankles. Mrs Fortune got into position and I waited and held my breath.
I nearly fell over with the force. “Oooooowch.” I gasped. It seemed so much harder than the previous time.
“Are you alright, dear?” Asked Mrs Fortune.
“Yes, but it seems a lot harder than when you did it before.”
“That’s because I’m giving it to you properly.”
Before I had chance to say anything else, the slipper struck my bottom again. I let out another yell.
“Do your son and daughter make all this noise?”
“They most certainly do.”
I felt relieved that it wasn’t just me, and I didn’t try to stop myself.
This was becoming decidedly uncomfortable. I tried wiggling my legs to ease the pain.
Slowly but surely we reached the end. I wasn’t crying but my eyes were certainly watering.
“How does that feel?” Asked Mrs Fortune, tapping her hand with the slipper.
“Sore,” I replied giving my bottom a good rub.
“Would you like to sit down for a few minutes before you go?”
“I’ll try,” I laughed.
I sat down. Being an armchair there was plenty of padding to sit on and I tried to imagine what it was like going back to a school desk and having to sit on a wooden chair.
“Will you come back for more?” Asked Mrs Fortune.
“You mean you’re willing to do it again?” I asked.
“As many times as you like?”
“Thank you, I will, but I can’t believe you’re doing this for nothing, you must enjoy it?”
“Not really, I just like to think that you are, and I’m giving you some pleasure.”
“This is so kind of you. May I come back again next week please?”
“Of course, ring me after the weekend to arrange it.”
I left soon after and the time couldn’t have dragged any more. Eventually I was able to arrange my next visit. Instead of arriving with nerve ends dangling, I arrived in high excitement. I was taken into the lounge again and plied with tea and cake. If nothing else Mrs Fortune made me feel welcome.
“What’s it to be this time, more whacks or on your bare bottom?”
I wasn’t prepared for the bare bottom bit but something inside me prompted me to say yes.
“This will really hurt, you know,” said Mrs Fortune in a voice full of concern.
“Yes I realise that, could I have just one to try it out?”
“You can have whatever you like.”
“Alright, I’ll try one then,” I said getting up.
The slipper was already to hand and Mrs Fortune picked it up. I went to where I bent over last time, pulled up my skirt and pulled my knickers down to my ankles and stayed down. Mrs Fortune pulled up my skirt and petticoat. I felt a couple of gentle taps on my bare skin then..
I let out a loud scream, jumped up and grabbed my bottom. I wanted to dance around the room, but the knickers round my ankles prevented me.
“How do you feel about it now?” asked Mrs Fortune.
“Wow, you’re right, it really does hurt,” I exclaimed, trying to regain my composure.
“Would you like anymore?”
“I’ll try two more,” I ventured, not wanting to appear soft.
“Down you go then.”
I bent my knees and gripped my ankles as I managed to stay down. Then the third one, my bottom felt on fire, but somehow I stayed down.
“Enough for you dear?” Asked Mrs Fortune.
I stood up and grabbed at my burning bottom. “I think so,” I replied, fighting back genuine tears.
“Let’s have those knickers up then.”
I bent down and eased them up over my bottom and tidied my skirt.
“Have you any idea what you’d like to do on your next visit?” asked Mrs Fortune.
“I haven’t thought that far ahead,” I replied.
“That’s fine, just let me know when you ring next week.”
“You’re so kind Mrs Fortune,” I said gratefully.
“Think nothing of it my dear. Although it hurts I can see you’re clearly enjoying yourself.”
“Yes I am,” I replied.
As I made my way back to work I couldn’t believe how lucky I’d been meeting this lovely, friendly woman.
After my third visit I started to wonder about Mrs Fortune. Why was she being so accommodating, what was her motive? She had said that she didn’t spank me for any enjoyment and she had at no time asked me to reciprocate. She didn’t want any money, it all seemed too good to be true, but at the same time she was a thoroughly kind and pleasant woman. She was a complete enigma. I continued to visit her regularly until I moved to another part of the country with my work. Each time I came to visit my mum and dad I called on her and she punished me. As time went on, we became firm friends. After a few more visits I found out how to buy a cane, which I did. When I visited I always took it with me, hidden in the boot of my car. I continued to visit right up until she was in her late seventies and because of arthritis, she was unable to punish me. I continued to visit until her death some years later. I shall always remember her fondly and still I don’t understand why she did it. Oh well, time for a cup of cocoa and off to bed.
© Lisamum 2016