(Part of the Swinging Sixties Series of short stories)
By Dick Templemeads
(With apologies to anyone unfamiliar with cricket)
The villagers of the picturesque Yorkshire village of Upperdale said that there were just three passions in Seth Uttershawe’s life.
In third place was the Yorkshire ale which he regularly supped in the saloon bar of the Batsman’s Arms, while they could not decide whether Glenda, his beautiful raven haired 20 year old daughter whom he’d brought up single handedly since his wife had left him for some ‘fancy Dan’ Londoner 15 years earlier, or cricket came top of his affections.
But a fly on the wall of Seth’s Cottage on Saturday 15th August 1964 would have witnessed a scene which illustrated this conundrum.
Seth was disappointed that rain early in the day led to the abandonment of today’s cricket match against, Lower Scarside. He’d scored a century in the previous two meetings and was banking on a repeat. Still it was dry in London and the fifth Ashes test was coming from the Oval, where a great Yorkshireman was about to make history by becoming the first player in the history of text cricket to take 300 wickets. This was some consolation to Seth as he sat in front of the TV and witnessed Fred take his 299th wicket. Any moment now history could be made and Seth was not going to budge until it was.
Suddenly the door of the sitting room burst open and Glenda arrived, home from her work as a trainee optician.
“Hello Daddy, Julie and I are going into town tonight so I’m going to cook dinner now, what would you like?”
Glenda was blocking Seth’s view but before he could tell her to move the commentator’s voice told him that the batsman was caught at first slip. Cricketing history had been made, and Seth had missed witnessing it.
Suddenly the father who had never so much as slapped his daughter’s legs was filled with fury and frustration, his match had been called off and now he’d missed the wicket going down.
“How dare you disturb me girl! Get up to your room. I shall be up to deal with you in a few minutes!”
Shocked, Glenda fled the room. She’d never known her father be angry with her in all her twenty years.
Meanwhile Seth mused on what implement he should use to punish his daughter. He’d never laid a finger on her, but a ruined day of cricket was just too much, so he intended to give Glenda a good spanking, but felt that his hand on the bare bottom of a twenty year old would be wrong.
Many of the villagers kept a cane for their errant offspring, even those as old as Glenda. Indeed the cane had been much used by his parents on himself and his sister Jean, but when Jean had a daughter she inherited the cane from their parents and only last week Seth had witnessed his 18 year old niece, Lucy, bent over his sister’s sofa with her knickers about her knees being treated to four strokes for rudeness.
Seth had no access to any canes. He’d be too embarrassed to ask his sister to lend him hers, and what with his work at the borough surveyor’s office and maintaining the cricket garden, he had no time for gardening and hence owned no garden canes. He always wore braces to hold up his trousers, so there was no belt he could use, nor did he ever wear slippers so a slippering was out of the question.
Then it dawned on Seth, he’d recently read a newspaper article that stated that in American homes and schools the paddle was as revered as an implement of punishment as the cane in England. The paddle is shaped much the same way as a cricket bat so he had the perfect instrument to hand.
Fetching his bat from the bag in the under stairs cupboard he started to climb the stairs to his daughter’s room.
Meanwhile Glenda waited nervously in her room. Her beloved father had said he’d be up to deal with her. When most Dalesmen made comments like that they meant their offspring were about to get a good hiding, but he’d never ever so much as tapped her. Unlike her best friend Julie, whose bare bottom was still frequently whipped by her mother or father if she transgressed.
True, Glenda had experienced corporal punishment at school twice. Her Geography teacher, Miss Winstanley, had twice applied the slipper to her knickered bottom for inattentiveness and then on her 18th birthday Mrs Jenkinson the headmistress had caned both her and Julie for visiting the pub at lunchtime.
Glenda had received three strokes across the knickers, but Julie who’d been caned twice before had to lower her baggy navy blues for a full six. Glenda dreaded being punished now by her father, whom she’d never seen so furious, but then of course cricket was so precious to him.
The door opened and Seth entered, bat in hand. Glenda was transfixed and got up off the bed on which she been sitting, while Seth was hardly sure what to do next. Then he remembered the way his sister had spoken to his niece last week when she’d caned her, and so he addressed Glenda accordingly.
“Right girl, lift your skirt, get your drawers down and bend over the bed.”
Glenda, shaking like a leaf, lifted her short skirt, slid the thin pink knickers down to her knees and then bent across the bed.
Seth took aim and delivered a firm shot to Glenda’s rear. She groaned and quickly her bottom reddened. The second was harder. Glenda yelled and tears started to form in her eyes. The third caused Glenda to shriek, and the tears were accompanied by sobs which grew louder as Seth brought the bat down for a fourth time on what was now a crimson bottom. The fourth elicited a scream from Glenda who was suffering pain and upset and sobbing loudly.
Seth, meanwhile, was warmed to the task. The fifth stroke clattered the 20 year old’s bottom which bounced for seconds as Glenda yelled even louder. As Seth prepared to deliver the sixth and last whack he mused on the number six.
Six of the best has long been a much feared punishment for English schoolboys and schoolgirls. But there are also six balls in an over, and six is the maximum score a cricketer can make in one shot. He intended this last stroke to be a six run shot.
Seth’s bat sounded like a rifle shot as it struck Glenda’s bottom and she screamed so loudly the whole village surely heard.
Seth took a glance at the girl’s bottom, as red as a brand new cricket ball, and departed, leaving Glenda sobbing over the bed where she remained for several minutes before recovering some composure. She stood and positioned herself so she could view her branded bottom in the dressing table mirror. This punishment had been far worse than the three she’d suffered at school.
Finally she pulled her panties back up, wincing as the thin cotton contacted her bum, let her skirt fall back into place and then lay face down on the bed and cried solidly for five minutes. Unbeknown to her, downstairs her father is berating himself for over reacting to a minor incident.
He climbed the stairs again, knocked his daughter’s bedroom door and entered. He handed Glenda two pounds and told her to enjoy herself in town, and that he’ll cook his own dinner.
An hour later Glenda had recovered sufficiently from her ordeal to get ready to hit the town. She struck a pose in her black mini-skirt, red blouse and black stilettos but her eyes were still red and she walked cautiously and uncomfortably as her bottom still throbbed.
She had arranged to rendezvous with Julie at the bus stop. Waiting for several minutes, she fretted that her best friend would be too late for the bus but finally Julie, who comes into view, appeared to be limping. As she arrived Glenda noticed that Julie is also red eyed.
“What’s happened to you?” Asked Glenda.
“I cheeked my mum and it was a choice of being grounded tonight or the cane, so of course I chose the cane and yet again it was a case of down with my knicks for six!”
“That’s both of us then,” replied Glenda.
“What?” queried an astounded Julie. “Your dad caned you? He’s never ever whacked you.”
“Well not with the cane but with a cricket bat,” came the reply, with Glenda explaining what happened.
At that point the bus arrived and the two friends recognised the driver, who was famous for bumpy rides.
“I think we should stand like the boys do when they’ve been caned,” commented Julie.
And for the first time in several hours both girls smiled.
© Dick Templemeads 2014