Includes both an introduction and the first instalment of a fascinating series.
By David Wright
Mexbury is one of those traditional English boarding schools, originally for boys only, founded in the 19th century heyday of the British Empire to educate the sons of the military and professional classes stationed overseas. I had the privilege of being Headmaster of Mexbury from 1960 to 1985 during a period of major transition, one aspect of which, namely the admission of girls to the sixth form from 1970, is to be the focus of these memoirs.
By and large we did not allow the inclusion of 17/18 year old girls into our community to change the way things were done, but there were inevitably some unforeseen consequences of applying this ‘no change’ policy. One such consequence had a considerable effect on me personally and will I believe be of enormous interest to my readers. I make this assertion with some considerable confidence which I think will be borne out if I now describe a particular incident that occurred and give just a little more background.
I had had the report earlier in the day that a bottle of vodka had been discovered in the locker of one of the girls of the Upper Sixth and had issued my instructions. The knock on the door had come when I was just putting some files away. There had been no need to answer immediately. I had continued what I was doing before at length sitting down behind my desk and calling “come in”. A tall, long-legged, dark haired girl had entered, correctly and formally dressed in full school uniform: jacket, open neck blouse, skirt. She had come forward nervously to stand in front of my desk. And, indeed, well might she be nervous, for she would have been perfectly well aware that what she had done constituted what was termed in our formal disciplinary code a ‘misdemeanour of the utmost seriousness’.
Having to apply the school’s punishment procedure in this type of situation was one of the most rewarding aspects of my job as headmaster of Mexbury. I make no bones about this. Not because I enjoyed disciplining pupils as such – far from it – but because of the particular circumstances. Had the offence been less serious or if the vodka bottle owner had been a boy I would have had no emotion other than what one might expect of a headmaster when dealing with a recalcitrant. But there was something very special on those rare occasions when a senior girl had committed a ‘misdemeanour of the utmost seriousness’. If I tell you that the mandatory punishment for such offences was the cane you will begin to appreciate why.
Many schools began abandoning corporal punishment in the latter part of the 20th century. Not so Mexbury. The original mission statement – please forgive this lapse into the jargon of the modern age – had been to further all the perceived virtues of the Victorians. This ethos had remained intact and it certainly was not allowed to change merely because girls were now included in our community. Mexbury believed in working hard, playing hard and when occasion demanded caning hard. But such occasions, happily, were rare. Certain behaviours – cheating at exams, bullying, stealing, for example – which by general consensus were considered totally unacceptable were officially designated ‘misdemeanours of the utmost seriousness’. So was the offence of ‘wilfully disobeying a specific instruction of the Headmaster’ (which as we shall see as these memoirs proceed was often how girls came to find themselves in my study). It was only such offences that were punished by a session with the Headmaster’s stick. Canings, as befits the ultimate deterrent, were not, therefore, frequent events. I doubt if there were more than say 30 such offences committed by sixth form girls during the 15 years I am writing about. Allowing for the fact that sometimes more than one girl was involved, I suppose I caned in total something like 50 errant young ladies. Not many when you consider it averaged only around one per term, but a quite sufficient number to make these memoirs interesting!
Had errant pupils simply been obliged to bend over to receive their punishment I do not think I would have been much affected by their sex. But, and this is the point, they did not simply have to bend over. There were certain preparations that had to be made first: preparations that made it particularly rewarding when an 18 year old girl was to be caned. The Governors’ guidelines on discipline gave the headmaster wide discretion to apply the cane in whatever manner he saw fit in order to maximise its effectiveness but, most interestingly, it was specifically stipulated that “as a general principle pupils being caned should not be allowed to benefit from the protection of the outer layer of their clothing”.
You will now understand rather better why having a girl guilty of a serious offence up before me for punishment was so rewarding. Imagine yourself in my place! I am sure that all of you have been in a room with an attractive, well dressed young lady and found yourselves idly wondering what might lie beneath that imposing, aloof exterior. Perhaps you might even look to see if there are any clues – a tell-tale line underneath her skirt perhaps indicating the style of her underwear. But idle speculation it has to remain, of course. Unless, that is, you are Headmaster of Mexbury School with a long-legged, dark haired, vodka drinker in front of you under sentence of a caning. Believe me, there are few things more exciting than the anticipation of knowing that whenever you choose to give the command – it might be quickly or you might wish to draw it out for some considerable time by lecturing her or even by continuing with whatever you were doing when she entered the study – this girl will reluctantly be raising her skirt, or even removing it, and starting to reveal what you want so much to see. And that then she will even more reluctantly be bending over grasping her ankles or in any other position you may decide upon, prominently displaying her knickers and the contours of what lies underneath them. And that finally it will be your privilege to listen to the hiss and the crack of the cane at work and the cries of the victim, and watch the contortions as her bottom writhes and gyrates under the rod.
In these memoirs I am going to put before you some of the details pertaining to the ‘vodka incident’ and others of similar interest.
THE AFFAIR OF THE PALE BLUE KNICKERS – HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The affair of the pale blue knickers is how I now think back to the first girls I caned. It occurred some months into our partially co-ed regime. This was a time when absurdly short skirts were the vogue. As can be imagined, fleeting glimpses of underwear became an almost everyday sight, until, eventually I felt I had to make a stand against such immodesty, totally inappropriate for a largely male establishment and, just as bad, bringing our name into disrepute in the neighbouring town. At first I informally spread the word through the house mothers and other teachers. This had some effect but did not totally eradicate the problem, and so, finally, I had to address the subject directly at one of the regular 6th form assemblies.
Two days later in mid-afternoon there came a knock on my study door. One of the house mothers entered. She explained that she had just been in town and while there had spotted a group of our girls two of whom, Adrienne Harper and Sue Gillespie, had reverted to mini-skirts. Adrienne, who presently had a free period, was with her now, waiting outside; Sue she had instructed to present herself two hours later when classes were over. She left and I called Adrienne in.
She had had no opportunity to change and so the offending article of clothing still adorned her. In a sense she was impeccably turned out. Maroon regulation jacket, white blouse, black skirt, black tights, black court shoes. It was just the length of the skirt that was the problem; I would say that from waist line to hem it can scarcely have measured more than 15 inches. If ever there was a case of wilful disobedience to a specific instruction of the Headmaster, this was it. I was rightfully furious, and it was probably no more than a couple of minutes later that I found myself sentencing her to 3 strokes of the cane. It was only then that I realised that this was to be my first experience of caning a girl.
It seems strange now when I look back but at the time the question of the consequences of a girl committing a ‘misdemeanour of the utmost seriousness’ had really not entered my mind. The truth is that I had never thought too deeply about using the cane; I had always regarded it simply as one of the duties of a headmaster. This very much reflected the ethos of the time; the cane was a normal part of school disciplinary options and its use, whilst not an every day matter, was totally unexceptional . Nor was the seniority of the pupil an issue. The need to cane a 6th form boy had been comparatively rare but it was by no means a special event.
You may find this hard to believe – with hindsight I do myself – but it was only when our mini skirted friend came to be standing in front of me that the implication of the somewhat obtuse wording “pupils being caned should not be allowed to benefit from the protection of the outer layer of their clothing” struck home My reaction was one of horror. What on earth was I supposed to do? How was I going to manage to find the words to order an 18 year old girl raise her skirt for me? Quite aside from what her reaction might be I felt embarrassed for myself!
Fortunately, I am good at not allowing my emotions to show, and so the few seconds in which time so to speak stood still went unnoticed by the girl. I must confess that I then played for time. Getting a cane from the cupboard behind my desk would normally have taken only a matter of seconds, but now I found myself drawing out this trivial task. And having taken hold of my 3’ crook handled favourite, I turned back to Adrienne, and still unsure of how to proceed, I glowered silently at her and swished the cane menacingly.
She, of course, was becoming extremely unsettled watching my performance and seemed to be trying, probably subconsciously to shrink away. I think it was her obvious distress that gave me some confidence to proceed. I may not have been sure how I was going to follow this up but at any rate the initial words came out loud and clear, “Take off your jacket and put it down on the chair behind you”.
Reluctantly she slipped the garment off and walked over to the chair where she delicately bent at the knees and lay it down as I had directed. And, seeing this very ladylike, demure movement, the answer to my difficulty suddenly came to me. Actually it was obvious. Why had I not seen it immediately? The nature of her offence was of itself the solution to my dilemma. There was no need to instruct her to raise her skirt. It was going to come up of its own accord.
“Bend over and grasp your ankles”, was my next command. She had not exactly moved with lightning speed to earlier instructions, but now she almost stopped entirely. First of all, from the way her hands went to her skirt, it was clear that she realised that with a hem line that short taking up the required position would leave her underwear more than a little exposed. She looked at me beseechingly and made as if to speak. Was she thinking of protesting? I will never know for I had the presence of mind at this moment to scowl and tersely tell her not to keep me waiting any longer.
Finally she got into the required position, her head well down and her bottom well up. Standing in front of her I could see that her skirt had risen such that it lay virtually horizontally on her back. Even before moving purposefully behind her I felt sure that it was not obstructing the target area.
The sight hat greeted me was a backside of womanly dimensions covered by black tights which may have been opaque lower down over her legs but stretched as they now were had become semi transparent. Her knickers cutting diagonally across her buttocks, were clearly visible in outline, albeit obscured in detail. But very skimpy. High cut and therefore only partially protecting her buttocks. I would say I found the sight interesting rather than alluring. It was the tights of course that spoiled it. A most unattractive item of clothing which, whilst undoubtedly revealing of what lies underneath, tends to distort the true nature and shape of the human form.
Her skirt was certainly quite high enough not to impede the cane and so I proceeded to lay it on. Full strength, of course. However confused my mind may have been I was clear that no allowances could be made in this respect for gender. Her reaction to the cane – and this is something I definitely do remember – was dramatic. A loud scream greeted the first stroke and she jiggled from side to side. On the second, she jerked backwards, relaxed again and then repeated the thrusting motion. The tights, however, held the bottom itself firm and therefore of course gave a somewhat skewed perspective to my first impressions of what a cane could do to female buttocks. On the third and final stroke she shrieked again, lurched forward with the force of it and all in one motion jumped upright and clamped her hands to the stricken area. She then hopped around – that is the only way I can describe it – making little gasping noises and with hands still frantically rubbing.
As I became more experienced in caning girls I certainly did not permit unseemly, ill-disciplined displays of this nature, but on this occasion, being somewhat unsure of myself I let it pass. Adrienne’s hands finally came away from her backside and her skirt, what there was of it, fell back into place hiding her knickers. I made the usual “hope this has taught you a lesson” remarks, instructed her to put her jacket on again, and then dismissed the girl from my presence.
I then had a couple of hours to wait until the second culprit presented herself. What were my thoughts in that time? I think I must still have been in a state of some confusion. I was conscious that the event that had just taken place had had a profound affect on me but I could not immediately identify the reason. I had not in fact become significantly aroused. The presence of tights had seen to that, distorting the view I had had of Adrienne’s knickers and buttocks into something almost unrecognisable, in much the same way as wearing a stocking over the head makes the face underneath unrecognisable. Was it the mere fact of caning a girl? Yes, possibly, I had to admit that might be partly it. And then the real reason came to me. I realised that my authority as headmaster was such that that an18 year old girl had almost unquestioningly obeyed my instruction to adopt a compromising position which she knew would expose her underwear to me!
This, and the possibilities that it implied, was clearly something that was going to require further thought. But for the time being I tried to put it out of my mind and get on with pressing work. I would not, however, be telling the truth if I pretended that I was able to concentrate fully on the paperwork on my desk. Not to put too fine a point on it I found myself tingling in anticipation at the imminent interview with Sue Gillespie.
Eventually the time came and there was a timid knock on my door. Miss Gillespie entered my study and immediately I realised that this time my dilemma would have to be faced head on. This time it was going to be necessary to issue a positive instruction in order, as our guidelines so decorously put it, to prevent the girl from benefiting from the outer layer of her clothing. Simply getting her to bend over would not achieve the desired effect. For Sue Gillespie had had ample time to change out of her mini skirt and was now decorously attired in the black trousers that girls were permitted as an alternative to skirts.
I had the good sense not to rush into this. First of all I lectured her on the reasons why she was now in my study and why she was to be caned, taking note of the shiver that seemed to go through her when I mentioned that word. I then, with some ceremony, extracted the cane from the cupboard and swished it menacingly. Allowing a few more seconds to go by I ordered her to take her jacket off and stand in the centre of my study facing me. Feeling that she was now in a suitable state of agitation I steeled myself and then said as nonchalantly as I could, “Before we can begin I need you to lower your trousers. Please do that immediately.”
Her head shot round to look at me and a startled expression, a mixture of horror and disbelief, flashed across her face. For a moment I thought she was going to protest – Sue Gillespie was what I would call a feisty young lady – but in fact it appeared that the trouble I had taken to ritualise the procedure had had its effect. Her hands eventually went to the waistband of the trousers and the necessary clasps were unhooked and zips undone. Slowly the garment was lowered.
How much bare flesh and underclothing is revealed by a girl with trousers lowered to her knees depends on whether she is wearing tights and on the extent to which her upper garments cover the area previously covered by the trousers. Miss Gillespie, I was pleased to see, clearly took the view that tights under trousers served no purpose and was not wearing any. She was, of course, wearing a white blouse in accordance with school uniform regulations. This was styled along the lines that I associate with a man’s shirt with a long tail front and back but much shorter to the sides. Viewed from the front the tail came down to the tops of her thighs, perhaps a few inches higher than Adrienne Harper’s mini skirt earlier that afternoon. I could not therefore see her knickers. Nevertheless she was clearly very embarrassed even though she must have realised that little was on show beyond an expanse of upper leg.
“Bend over and grasp your ankles.”
Her first attempt saw her hands only just below knee level. But bit by bit under my gimlet stare she eased them further down until they were indeed at ankle level. She was now perfectly positioned for the cane.
I was not disappointed by the sight that greeted me as I moved behind her to take up position. Her blouse may not have risen up that much, being a loose fitting garment it had not been that stretched by her bending over, but a significant expanse of her knickers was now showing. Pale blue in colour with white edging around the legs. What I would call conventional tight-fitting briefs. Whilst they covered her bottom they did nothing to hide its contours. However, she being so tightly bent over, they had ridden up slightly into her buttocks, thereby revealing more flesh than might otherwise have been the case. More flesh, for example, than her swimsuit or bikini bottoms would have revealed for I could see perhaps an inch of white skin before the general light brown tan began.
The blouse was, however, still slightly covering the upper part of the target area. Earlier in the afternoon I might have ignored this but I was by now feeling more confident and in control of the situation.
“Your blouse is going to obstruct the cane. Please lift right up out of the way.”
This time she did speak. “But sir, I’ll be showing my underwear if I do that. Surely it’s not necessary.” I told you she was feisty.
I had my answer ready. “Miss Gillespie. Are you suggesting that a girl being caned should be treated differently from a boy? And in any case, you are scarcely in a position to complain when immodest attire is precisely the reason why you are here in the first place!”
And so her shirt tail was raised until it rested on the small of her back. Now her pale blue knickers were totally exposed along with a further strip of flesh above their white waistband.
I wasted no further time. Focusing all my attention on the seat of her knickers I let fly – once, twice, three times. Sue’s audible reaction was much the same as Adrienne’s, a piercing shriek with increasing intensity and pitch as each stroke landed. Her movements were much the same too: first a jiggling motion, then a jerk and finally a thrusting from the hips.
As a spectacle, however, it had a great deal more to offer. Not being constrained by tights her bottom seemed to take on a life of its own – the wobble as the cane struck, the temporary tightening as the muscles clenched, the widening as she thrust backwards on the final stroke. Cane marks were also clearly visible where the tip had struck the outer part of Sue’s buttocks where her knickers did not quite reach. Classic tramlines with red edges, fiercer towards the end where the tip of the cane had dug in. And even as I watched they were turning a deeper hue.
I allowed Sue Gillespie to return to a vertical position. It crossed my mind to tell her to keep still as I would automatically have done from long habit if it had been a boy. But I have to confess that the sight of her vigorously rubbing the affected area with the tail of her blouse still lifted and knickers still exposed held me in check. But then it was all over. The rubbing and sobbing ceased, her hands left her stricken rear and her blouse fell back into place. Whereupon I signalled she could go, at which she gingerly pulled up her trousers, fastened them, turned away from me and left.
So ended the affair of the pale blue knickers. And so began a fascinating 15 year period of my career as a headmaster, which it will be my future privilege to tell you more about.