Not all punishments are administered immediately, as one girl discovers. Based on a true story.
By Julie Baker
I was born in early December 1955 and I was christened ‘Helen’ after my maternal grandmother who had died the week before I came into the world. I have always liked the name I was given. I then acquired a brother, Simon, who is two years younger than me. We were bought up in Primrose Hill in London where my father worked as a corporate lawyer. Both my brother and I were academically bright and loved all sports. We initially went to day schools in London but when we were 13 we were both sent away to boarding schools. My brother went to my father’s old school in Leicestershire and I was sent to a well known girls school in Surrey.
I had just started in the year of my O Level exams when I received a letter from my father. His old school had decided to go co-educational and were going to admit 12 girls into the sixth form in the autumn of 1972. Did I fancy going? I jumped at the chance! I had made strong friendships with many of the girls in my school but the thought of entering that male dominated environment really excited me. We applied and I got a place.
I loved the location of my new school as the buildings were integrated into the town itself. This gave all pupils quite a bit of freedom to come and go as they wished. The school had built a new boarding house specifically for the girls and the facilities were superb. We each had our own rooms and we also had a lovely common room for socialising. There was a resident house matron, who also doubled as a young geography teacher, and then we had our House Mistress, Mrs Jones, who lived with her family on the other side of town. Mrs Jones was also new to the school having been previously employed at a girls boarding school in the West Country.
Boys were allowed to visit us during the evenings but, predictably, weren’t allowed to go into the bedrooms and had to leave by 9.30pm. The school was clearly paranoid about the dangers of one of their new girl pupils getting pregnant. We had to sign into the register, supervised by matron, at 8.00am every morning and at 10.00pm each evening. We were not allowed to be off the premises at night between these hours without permission.
My brother Simon had started at the school one year before me and took great delight in informing me that there was still a regime of corporal punishment in place. We didn’t have this form of punishment at my previous school and he kept on telling me that I was bound to be caned at some stage. I ignored him and in reality the cane was used infrequently. In fact, on our first evening at the school Mrs Jones told us that we would not be caned under any circumstances although in exceptional situations she did have the power to slipper us. In the whole of that first year this never happened.
It’s hard to describe how much fun I had during my first year at my new school. We girls were the centre of attention and revelled in the role of being a bit special. Team sports were difficult with so few fellow girls but I managed to keep active and really thrived in my studies. I took Geography, English and History for A level. Mrs Jones was Head of History as well as looking after the girls house so I saw plenty of her. She was an excellent teacher and I got on really well with her. The only problem was that she was inclined to be a bit moody. Occasionally she would be on the war path and we all knew then to keep out of her way.
At the beginning of the summer term in that first year, I started going out with a boy called John who was also in the lower sixth. His parents were Lincolnshire farmers and I was head over heals in love! We saw each other as much as possible but more intimate relations were, as you can imagine, more difficult to enjoy. We had plenty of free time at the weekends and during that summer we had many long walks into the Leicestershire countryside. We made love in meadows, under hedges and in the meadows. It was an idyllic time in our lives. The summer holidays came and went but we resumed our lovely routines at the start of the autumn term. Then winter arrived and the weather deteriorated. We were left burning with desire but had few opportunities to be private and on our own.
The school had taken in a further 12 girls in my second year so our boarding house was considerably busier. John and I were both being given very generous allowances by our parents and we hatched a plan to spend a night in a local B&B. This was not so much of a difficulty for John as there wasn’t much supervision of the boy’s movements but it was more difficult for me. However Matron had become less zealous about the signing in procedure and the extra girls created more confusion during that twice daily process. My best friend agreed to sign me in and out by going to the book twice and forging my signature. It was hoped that in the confusion matron would not notice anything amiss. It worked a treat. We found a small B&B and the lady who ran it was just pleased to get the business. She must have guessed we were from the school but asked no questions. We enjoyed ourselves so much we decided to do it again in mid December a couple of days before the holidays and to coincide with my birthday. We again had a terrific night but when I arrived back Mrs Jones was waiting for me in the Common Room. I instantly knew that I was in trouble as she was not normally in the house at that time.
She had come to tell me that my Grandfather was in hospital following a heart attack and that I was to phone home. She had discovered a few minutes before that I wasn’t there and suspected that my bed hadn’t been slept in. She asked me where I had been. I told her, truthfully, that I had spent the night in a B&B. She asked me who I had been with. I told her that I was on my own. She asked me why and I just said that I ‘needed some space’. She clearly didn’t believe me and her mood darkened when I refused to tell her who had signed the register on my behalf. She then told me to go to my lessons and to report to her study at 2.00 pm for a further interview.
I really didn’t know what was going to happen to me and I was also concerned for John. In the event he did the sensible thing. He was bound to be questioned as everyone knew that he was my boyfriend but he denied all knowledge of where I was on that night. Nothing could be proved and actually I think the school realised that me being seen to be away over night on my own was a better outcome for them. No punishment for John therefore!
I had a stressful morning of lessons, a light lunch and then I was at Mrs Jones’ study at 2.00pm as requested. She was actually in quite a good mood considering the circumstances. Maybe it was the prospect of the Christmas holidays. However she told me that my behaviour was totally unacceptable and that I had let her, the school and myself down badly. She told me that she didn’t believe my story of what happened and that I had been deceitful in the way that I had tried to cover my tracks. She told me that by the school rules she only had two options for punishment. One was to expel me. She didn’t want to go down this route because of the impact it would have on my studies and the knock-on effect on the rest of my life. She would rule this out so long as I gave her an absolute undertaking that there would be no repeat episode. This I did. Having ruled out this option on my behalf she then said that I would have to accept corporal punishment in the form of a slippering.
I was a bit stunned by this but it looked like I had no choice. She explained that corporal punishment was widely used in her previous school but she had not had to resort to it so far in her new post. She said she would normally administer the punishment immediately so that I didn’t have it hanging over me for days but she hadn’t anticipated the need to have a implement readily to hand. She said that she would need to go home to find a suitable shoe to use on me that would be up to the task.
The following day was the last day of term and she asked me to see her in her study at 11.00 am when the matter would be concluded. She said that I would be required to wear my normal school uniform but to put on my regulation school gym knickers instead of my own. I would be required to remove my skirt and I would then be slippered six times over my gym knickers. She warned me that if I didn’t wear the right knickers then I would be slippered on my bare bottom. Finally she said that I would have the choice of touching my toes or bending over the end of her desk.
I thanked her but left feeling that I had got far too much information! Plenty to think about and a horrible ordeal was in prospect. I got through the rest of the day and had a pretty poor night’s sleep. John was clearly feeling guilty that he had got away with it but this didn’t stop him asking to see me before we all went home so that he could see the marks on my bottom. What a cheek! At the time I was too ashamed and humiliated to agree to this. I was an eighteen year old adult having to bend over and get my bottom smacked. That was nothing to be proud of.
The following morning I got up and dressed as normal but with my gym knickers in place. However Matron gave me a note as I left for breakfast. It was from Mrs Jones. A crisis had arisen and she wouldn’t be able to see me that morning. She said that she would see me at the start of the following term and meantime to have a good Christmas. My heart sank. I wasn’t looking forward to getting the slipper from Mrs Jones but I had thought that the matter would be dealt with before Christmas. Now I had four weeks to look forward to my punishment.
My parents were actually fine with my situation and said that I had been a bit unlucky to be caught. We had a really good Christmas and we went skiing in the Swiss Alps over New Year. However what awaited me on my return to school was never far from my thoughts. How hard would she hit me? How long would there be marks on my bottom for? Should I touch my toes or go over her desk? Would all the school know that I had been slippered? Would anyone hear the noises while it was happening? Will I cry out with the pain? What sort of shoe will she use on me? Will I be crying at the end and will my eyes be red when I see anyone afterwards? Should I let John or my friends see my bottom after the punishment? The questions were endless.
Also, my brother Simon teased me about the slippering endlessly. Any time that I had managed to push it to the back of my mind he seemed to make a comment to remind me of what was heading my way. He had not been caned so he thought it was highly amusing that his older sister was about to be punished. This was harder to take on the skiing holiday when I was trying to be at my most sophisticated amongst the two other families who traditionally joined us. He would say things like ‘are you looking forward to going back to school?’ or ‘your bottom looks good is those salopettes’ and I would be terrified that he would let my secret out of the bag in front of my friends.
I also wondered if Mrs Jones was having a good Christmas and whether she would be thinking about me and the task that she had to perform on her return to work. I got my answer to that one when I returned to school after the Christmas holidays. She had gone down with pneumonia just before Christmas and had spent the next two weeks in hospital. She was still confined to bed but would be unlikely to be back at school before the half term break. I knew that she was the only one who could administer this punishment so I was ‘off the hook’ for another six weeks. This was a mixed blessing as it still played on my mind although I would have to say that I was getting used to it hanging over me. The half term holiday came and went and once again I spent a nervous first night back at school wondering if tomorrow would be the big day.
Mrs Jones was back but in fact I didn’t hear from her or see her for the first few days. I concluded that she had plenty of things to catch up with and she would get round to dealing with me when she was settled back in. This was a critical time in the run up to our A Level exams and Mrs Jones, my history teacher also, was making a big effort on her return to work to make sure that all her pupils were up to speed. I was studying the American Civil War as my elective special subject and she asked to see me in her study after our double lesson on the second Friday after half term. I thought she was bound to raise the subject of the slippering. However she was in an extremely good mood and we simply talked about my studies and plans for getting the best possible grade in my exam.
The same happened the following Friday. I was beginning to relax, thinking that she had passed up two opportunities to discuss my punishment and I concluded that she must have thought that so much time had lapsed that it was better for all concerned if the matter was consigned to the past. For the first time since the original day of the incident I began to relax. So much so that when I got a note from her asking me to see her in her study after my history lesson with her the next Tuesday, I thought nothing more about it other than it was for a further catch-up session on my history studies.
I could not have been more wrong. I knocked on her door the following Tuesday afternoon and, when called, went into her study. I immediately could tell that this was not going to be a good experience. The first thing I noticed was that the top of her desk had been entirely cleared except for one object; a Greek style summer sandal. There could only be one reason for that shoe being on Mrs Jones’ desk. The sole was made of thick brown leather and there were thin whispy leather straps visible for fastening purposes. I discovered that the sole was smooth but it was quite heavy and stiff. It was presumably one of hers; she was reasonably tall and I imagined that she would have taken a size 7 or 8 shoe. It could have been worse, Mr Jones was a huge man and one of his shoes on the desk that day would have been seriously bad news! I was quite a slim girl with a small bottom so a man’s shoe crashing into me was not what I was looking for.
The other thing I quickly noticed was that Mrs Jones was not in such a good mood that day. No pleasant greeting this time and she spoke with a distinct edge to her voice.
“We both know why you are here and we will not waste any more time on this matter. You know my views on your behaviour last term. Please remove your tights and your skirt and place them on the chair in front of my desk. Then please raise your blouse and tuck it into your bra so that it is held up and entirely clear of your bottom.”
With this, she turned to the side and started to rearrange some books on her bookshelf which covered one wall of her study. At least she is not going to watch me get undressed, I thought, but the lack of my gym knickers were my main preoccupation at that time. I decided that I would say nothing and hope she wouldn’t make an issue of this particular detail. I took off my shoes and placed them under the chair. I unzipped the back of my skirt and allowed it to fall to the floor. Finally I removed my tights and folded my clothes before placing them on the seat of the chair. I then tucked my blouse into the bottom of my bra as instructed leaving my tummy and lower back exposed. My thin white cotton panties were plain for anyone to see.
Mrs Jones then turned round to see if I was ready. When she saw my underwear she went absolutely ballistic. She accused me of being arrogant, prepared to disregard school rules as I wished and felt able to disobey a specific instruction that she had given me. I tried to protest that I had no way of knowing that this meeting was for me to get my punishment, given that we had been meeting previously to discuss my studies. She responded by saying that this meeting was different and that the other meetings had been on Fridays and were prearranged to discuss my work. She stated that it would be obvious to anyone else what was planned to happen during this particular meeting. I begged her to give me 20 minutes and I would run back to my room and change into my gym knickers. I’m ashamed to say that I was crying by this stage but my tears had no effect on Mrs Jones.
“I haven’t got time for that, young girl,” she said. “You will just have to accept the consequences. Have you decided whether you want to touch your toes or go over the end of my desk?”
“I’ll go over the end of your desk, please,” I sobbed.
“OK. Remove your panties and get in position.”
My heart sank. She was clearly going to enforce her threat and I was about to suffer the ultimate humiliation. I lowered my panties, stepped out of them and placed them with my other clothes. I was then entirely naked from my breasts downwards. I went round to the end of her desk. Bending over, I gently lowered my upper body onto the cold surface, keeping my feet on the floor and my long legs together. I was ready for the process to begin.
Mrs Jones took a book out of the top drawer of her desk and opened it in front of her.
“You will wait there, Helen, while I enter your details into the Punishment Book.” She might have done that in advance, I thought. It’s taken her over three months to deliver this punishment and here I am, bent over the end of her desk, with my bare bottom exposed, waiting for yet another five minutes. The tension and sense of anticipation were unbearable. The room was cold and I could feel chilly draughts playing over my bare skin as I waited. Finally she finished writing, stood up, removed her jacket and picked up the shoe.
“You will be getting six strokes and it will be on your bare bottom as a result of your foolishness. You will remain in position until I say and you must not try to protect your bottom with your hands during your punishment. If you feel that you might not manage this then please grip onto the sides of the desk. Failure to obey this instruction will result in the punishment being extended. Do you understand, Helen?”
“Yes, Miss,” I replied. I left my arms under my head as I felt confident that I would stay in control. I could feel my heart pounding as Mrs Jones rested the shoe on my bottom.
Well, she showed me no mercy. The flat leather sole of the sandal crashed into my bottom time and time again. The slapping noise seemed deafening and the pain increased every time the shoe landed. It rapidly built to a point that I felt that I couldn’t take more, but still the blows kept on coming. I remember a feeling of building heat and pain but I didn’t call out at any stage. Also, I didn’t cry during the slippering and I managed to keep my hands away from my bottom as instructed. Soon it was over and I could see Mrs Jones returning her shoe to her handbag.
“All right, Helen, that’s it over.” Her tone now was much kinder. “Just let’s not have a repeat performance, please. You can get up now and sign the Punishment Book. Then you can put your clothes back on and go.”
I got up and gave my poor bottom a few rubs with my hands to try to get rid of the stinging sensation. I signed the book, which had clearly been borrowed from the boy’s side, and was soon fully clothed again. I wasn’t hanging around, though, and I was soon out of her study and on my way back to my room. On the way back I was conscious that my whole body was glowing quite pleasantly.
An inspection in the mirror in my room revealed a mass of redness and the start of some darker bruising beginning to develop. I knew that in the school world this had been a fairly sensational occurrence. I decided I would hold my head up high and discuss my experience with anyone who was bold enough to ask. I showed the effects of the slippering to any of my fellow girls who asked, Matron and, of course, John. Simon’s interest was refused, however, and none of the other sixth form boys had the courage to ask. I think I would have turned them down anyway.
I was left feeling that I couldn’t argue against the fact I had been wilful and a little arrogant and had suffered the consequences accordingly. However I genuinely did not know that Mrs Jones had called me to her study that day for my punishment and having to remove my panties still feels like a gross injustice. They were thin and wouldn’t have offered much protection but it was the principal that mattered to me. It was on this basis that I did not reveal, until now, that I had to remove my panties that day. This was the final humiliation that, at the time, I wasn’t prepared to share with anyone. Not even John until now. We both did well in our exams. John went to Nottingham to study for an Agricultural degree and I went to Durham to study English. We kept on going out with each other while we were at university and we got married in July 1977. John took over the running of the family farm in Lincolnshire shortly afterwards and we went on to have three marvellous children. They all went to the same school that John and I went to and thrived. Corporal punishment was abolished the year after we left.
© Julie Baker 2015 Email Julie at email@example.com