Another story of sister rivalry, from the old site.
By Joanna Jones
Today my sister and I are very close, far closer than either of us are with my brother, who lies between us in age, and also between us in location, as we have to pass by his town when we take the fifty mile drive to visit each other.
However, it was not always so, and our all time nadir was perhaps when I was a ‘mature’ just turned eighteen in the upper sixth and she a ‘bratty’ nearly fourteen in the third form.
The girls’ grammar we went to was very traditional, so there was no flexibility for sixth formers not to attend if they did not have class. It certainly irked me that I needed to be in for registration and morning assembly only to have a ‘study period’ on a couple of mornings.
However, the rules were the rules and there was a strict escalation of sanction if you were late, monitored by a prefect (and yes it had also irked me that I had not been made one) at the school entrance. First time in a term was a warning from the form teacher, second a detention, third was a visit to the deputy headmistress’s office for ‘the stick’. Any further lateness just met with more vigorous applications of the aforementioned stick.
I was never good in the morning, and always left it five to ten minutes after my sister Pat left to meet up and walk with her friends. As is the case if you leave it to the last moment, despite running you can get there too late. Typically this happened to me once, or rarely, twice a term in the fifth and lower sixth, meaning I had received quite a few warnings and a couple of detentions. I was then careful not to risk a third.
However, after being late twice before half term, I found myself just missing the bell again in mid-November. My pleas to a prefect from the lower sixth fell on deaf ears (so humiliating to beg to some stuck up self-officious girl a year my junior but…)
Thus, as I sat through the last half of registration and the succeeding assembly, my mind was on what was coming. I was both angry with myself and the world in general at the predicament I was now in.
Sure enough at the end of assembly I was ordered to stand up and report to Mrs Taylor directly.
Pat was waiting with her friends outside the hall, and was clearly highly amused. She followed next to me in the slow moving crowd along the corridor with all the comments you can think of about whether it would be hands or knickers, and that it would not matter at home when mum would no doubt take the strap to my bared backside. She then proceeded to give a graphic account of my most recent encounter with that strap (mainly my pleas for mercy, and not to have to drop my knickers, followed by my vociferous reactions as I was “done” in the privacy of my bedroom), not that she was any better.
A short distance before I reached the office, I finally lost it as she decided to try to show her friends the underwear I would, she thought, be shortly exhibiting to Mrs Taylor over her desk.
“Leave me alone!” I said loudly as I stopped her lifting my skirt and slapped her very hard across the face.
She screamed and, as blood spurted from her nose, burst into tears. One of my friends, Frances, who was a prefect, dived between me and the now angry group of third formers.
“What’s going on here?” Came an altogether unwelcome voice. It was Mrs Taylor returning to her office after assembly. I was still too angry to realise the predicament I was in.
However, as those not directly involved rapidly disappeared, Pat’s friends ensured my attack was fully described to the progressively reddening deputy head teacher.
As my anger ebbed I began to realise that I was in very, very hot water. Any hope that I would be getting a couple on my hands left me. That was the norm for a third lateness, although sixth formers had been known to get more, and across their bottoms if the mood took our deputy head, before now as my sister well knew, I suppose.
Mrs Taylor gave me a cold look and then silenced my accusers. Turning to the prefect who had kept Pat and me apart, she asked for a summary.
To her credit, Frances did her best for me, telling her that my little sister (I noted a slight change in demeanour as that registered with our deputy head – I suspect sibling battles were at least a little more understandable if still unacceptable) had seriously provoked me before I’d slapped her.
Mrs Taylor looked at my nervous little sister and told her she was very lucky not to be joining me in her office. Feeling the consequences of my slap were sufficient, she said she would let her off this time but would bear it in mind if she ever appeared in her office on a disciplinary matter. She also was going to discuss this ‘fight’ with our parents.
As she dismissed her to the school nurse, and her friends to class with a warning to watch their step if they also wanted to avoid the cane, I had the small consolation of knowing that Pat would at least almost certainly be joining me in receiving a strapping at home that evening.
Mrs Taylor finally praised and thanked Frances, then sent her also to the nurse to see if she could wash out the blood clearly marking her blouse.
Finally she turned and ordered rather coolly: “Follow me!”
My stomach felt it was in my feet as I did so. All too soon I was in her office for the fourth time in my school career. I suspected, truth be told, my visit in fifth form, when I had got four on my hands for fighting (read, losing my temper) had cost me my chance to be a prefect. The other two had been persistent lateness in second form (two on the hands) and failing to do homework in fourth form (three, hands again).
I was pretty sure she would be going for a different part of my anatomy this time. However, first there was the lecture.
She sat down at her desk and glared at me standing nervously on the other side. Eventually she fished in her drawer for the notebook that served as a punishment record and laid it in her desk. While the cane had yet to be produced, there was no doubt I was in for a painful experience. I felt sick as she gave me yet more time to consider the pickle I was now in.
However, once she eventually started to speak, and before she embarked on any punishment, I had to endure a long lecture on first my tardiness and then an even longer one on my inability, in her eyes, to control my temper. A few things stick out: First, that I would probably have been suspended as well as what she was about to give me if I’d attacked any other third former in that manner. It was only that she recognised that sibling tensions exist and I had been sorely provoked that I was not getting that consequence. Second, I was a sixth former and should have the maturity to control myself better, which she would be taking into account in determining my punishment. And finally, woe betide me if I ever appeared in her office again.
She then got to the key point, first announcing that she was going to punish me for both ‘offences’ separately.
I had no idea what that meant until she said: “I have no option but to give four of the best for the assault on your sister.”
I gulped, and was not surprised when she said that they would be over my knickers.
She then said: “So that leaves your lateness. Again I expect sixth formers to show a better example than that, so you will get three strokes to remind you to be on time. They will be on your hands.”
I felt tears welling as I realised she was going to whack both my bottom and my hands. Or was she?
“You have a choice,” she continued. “You can have the hand caning now along with the one for assault, or return for it this time next week.”
Not a pleasant decision. After a pause to consider the unpalatable options I decided I did not want a week waiting for a second whacking both at school and home. Best get it over with. “I, I’ll take b-both now Miss.” I stammered nervously.
“Very well. Are those tights?” she asked as she stood up.
“Yes, Miss.” I muttered.
“Take them down to your knees.” She ordered.
As I complied, sliding my hands under my skirt and easing the nylon down my legs, she crossed the room to her cupboard and pulled out not only the shorter cane that I’d seen before, but a longer, thicker rod.
She noticed my pasty face and said: “This, Mary, is a senior cane, which I generally only use with sixth formers. I assure you not many return for a second dose.”
It was with an ashen dread I watched her cross over and place the longer cane on the desk. “Hand out!” She ordered.
I was shaking as I reluctantly stuck out my left hand. With my tights at half mast I felt acutely vulnerable, much more so than on the previous occasions I’d been standing on that spot.
She raised the cane, then a high pitched whistle and “Thwip”.
I bit my lip to prevent the scream that desperately wanted to escape. Slowly I raised my palm back into position.
Another whistle and Thwip!
‘Come on, control yourself,’ I thought as the pain induced a cry and I felt the wetness escape from my eyes. Mrs Taylor indicated that the third stroke was to be to my right hand. Reluctantly I put it out and closed my eyes.
“O-oh” I wailed as I clamped the two hands between my thighs to try to assuage the pain.
Mrs Taylor put the cane down on one side of the desk and waited as I struggled to cope with the agony in my palms. Apparently she gave me nearly five minutes to recover, though it seemed much shorter, before ordering me over her desk.
With my tights still at half mast I shuffled across and took position. My hands were still objecting as I attempted to grip the far side. Keeping position was going to require more concentration than ‘just’ holding on!
I could see also why she’d made me lower my tights earlier as my fingers seemed as yet unable to move properly according to my command.
As she raised my skirt to reveal my plain white knickers I shuddered. With my head turned to the side I could see her lift up that ‘senior cane’ that she had made such a point of informing me was specially for sixth formers. I had seen a couple of girls return from a bottom whacking when I was in lower forms. They were always very distressed. I wondered how much worse this was supposed to be, though never having had my rear caned before I had no reference to work with.
I was now seconds from finding out how bad as the cane briefly touched my bottom.
“Eyes front.” She commanded.
As I focused on a crease in the back of her desk chair, she reminded me to hold still. While four of the best may be that awarded, I knew that penalty strokes were also possible.
I tried to curl my finger tips around the desk edge as best I could.
Suddenly there was a distinct humm and then…
I felt my breath leave me as the consequences of the first blow assaulted my senses. Suddenly the pain in my hands felt much reduced.
I think only my home experiences, while not as harsh as that stroke-for-stroke, was the only reason I did not jump up in agony as a result of that first blow.
The pain worsened as I gritted my teeth and concentrated on keeping my upper body touching her desk.
The third instalment, somewhere near the top of my bottom, broke my resolve to try not to cry out as I gave a scream as the agony permeated my being. Renewed tears were running down my cheeks. I wanted to stand, desperately, and the lack of a good grip was not helping. All that kept me in place was the knowledge that I only had one to go.
Another scream as I stood and clamped my hands to my knickers facing Mrs Taylor, who, after a brief, presumably satisfied, glance towards my face, turned and set about returning the canes to their home.
Sitting at her desk she ordered me to pull my tights up and then stand opposite her, hands by my sides.
It took an age to lever the nylon up over my swollen bottom with hands that were also in pain. However, eventually I smoothed down the skirt and forced my hands into position by my sides and watched, snuffling, as she methodically completed two lines in the punishment book, one for each of my offences.
Finally I was free to leave, and stagger to the loos to clean myself up before braving the inquisition in the sixth form common room.
The rest of the day was purgatory; difficult to write, harder to sit. And of course more to come at home.
Pat caught up with me on the way home. I ignored every attempt she made to apologise for being such a brat and going over the top. She tried to stop me and begged me to listen, but my mind was set. I did not utter a single word to her all the way.
Mother was waiting at the door with a face like thunder. I knew the drill all too well and was thus not surprised that we were both ordered to our bedrooms to change into pyjamas and wait there.
As I climbed the stairs I heard Pat asking for a word first in private, and was surprised my mum agreed.
Stripping in my room, I had another look at the four stripes that marked my bum. They were remarkably evenly spaced. Mrs Taylor certainly seemed to be accurate enough. As I touched them they were still very painful. I dreaded what it would be like to actually be strapped on them. However as I yanked on my pyjama bottoms I knew the stripes would be overlaid with a mess of bruises once my mother did exactly that.
When we deserved a strapping my mother had a rigid formula; your age divided by five multiplied by an arbitrary number depending on the offence. Usually it was one, two, or three, rarely four. “Fractional strokes” were rounded up.
A school caning was very simple. One stroke was one on her scale. I doubted she had ever considered any child of hers getting more than six. My brother had got six at his school twice and on both occasions had bawled his way though my mother’s ministrations and the compound effect had left him unable to sit comfortably for days. I calculated that I was due a fairly unimaginable 26 strokes of the strap.
Thus it was with a certain amount of dread that I waited for her arrival in my room. My mother went to my sister’s room first and, after a long muffled discourse I heard eleven sharp slaps accompanied by Pat’s wails.
It was then my turn. My eyes immediately went to the strap, which was a so-called “catholic strap” she had acquired from her Irish Grandfather, as she entered the room. Although old it was well looked after with ‘Dubbin’ rubbed into it regularly.
However, first she lectured me, more of a tirade actually, long about fighting and the disgrace to the family. Finally she got to the punishment.
I was shocked when it was intimated that Pat had asked her if she could have some of my punishment, given she felt she had been most to blame. Taking all things into account she decided to give us a tariff of 4 each. That meant a still horrible 15 whacks for me and, of course, the 11 I’d heard Pat get.
In quick time she bent me over my dressing table chair and, once in position, my pyjama trousers were taken down. All I remember about what happened next was bawling into the seat as I was given my thrashing. She doled it out in three equal batches of five, with a short pause between them, allowing me to barely recover before the next instalment ‘lit up’ my senses.
Sent immediately to bed, it was not until the next day Pat and I could clear the air between us. While we had our ups and downs, it was at this point where we both started to find confiding in each other was much more productive than irritating each other. My ‘bratty’ little sister was finally growing up.
© Joanna Jones 2010